Everywhere you turn in the Pink City of Rajasthan – so named after it was repainted in 1876 to welcome Queen Victoria – you’ll find sights and sounds evocative of the city’s yesteryear rulers. With its rich royal history, gilded landmarks and imposing clifftop forts, the best way to truly experience Jaipur is to live like a king, if only for a few days – and these five hotels have luxury and history in spades.
What Suján Rajmahal is one of the oldest palaces in Jaipur, built in 1729, and although it has been refurbished into a stunning 13-room hotel, it continues to operate as the flashy bachelor pad of Jaipur royal Padmanabh Singh. The interior design artfully blends Indian, Art Deco and contemporary elements to give the pastel-washed hotel a nostalgic, almost Wes Anderson-style charm.
Go for The full-blown royal experience. Take afternoon tea on the terrace overlooking the manicured lawn, and follow it up by watching a VIP polo match from the royal family’s private box, available October to February.
The USP Each of its 13 rooms and suites (including two royal apartments that were once private residences of the ruling family) have their own distinct themes. And don’t miss the famous 51 Shades of Pink dining room, which was inspired by a now-iconic Norman Parkinson Vogue cover, shot in 1952.
Sardar Patel Marg, Shivaji Nagar; +91 11 4617 2700
What This idyllic retreat on the fringes of the Pink City sits within a walled enclosure reminiscent of an 18th-century fort. With luxe villas and tents spread across 32 acres of lush, green gardens, it’s a getaway fit for a queen.
Go for The ultimate in R&R. Book yourself in for a visit to the Oberoi Spa and choose from treatments including a Himalayan Rice body scrub and Indian Sandalwood masque. Don’t forget to soak up the surroundings, too – the spa is housed in a beautifully restored 280-year-old Rajasthani haveli (mansion).
The USP This was the first of Oberoi Hotels & Resorts’ now-famous range of Vilās properties, which pride themselves on their sumptuous extravagance (the dedicated butlers that come as part of the experience don’t disappoint).
Goner Road, Jaipur; +91 141 268 0101
What Now a glorious 78-room hotel, Rambagh Palace Jaipur originally dates back to 1835. It has witnessed more than its fair share of royal transitions over the decades but hasn’t lost its old-world charm, with traces of the palace’s opulent past everywhere you look. Don’t miss the royal Indian feast in the gilded Suvarna Mahal restaurant, formerly the palace ballroom; insiders swear by it as the place to sample authentic cuisine from India’s former princely states.
Go for The visuals. Every turn is an aesthetic delight, from the strutting peacocks in the hotel’s green expanses to the decorative arched hallways – a mix of Rajput and Mughal architecture – that drip with regal splendour.
The USP The fame factor. Rambagh Palace’s most prominent resident was the celebrated beauty Maharani Gayatri Devi, who hosted esteemed guests such as Prince Charles, Jackie Kennedy and Lord Louis Mountbatten.
Bhawani Singh Rd, Jaipur; +91 141 238 5700
What This newly opened fort-turned-hotel, a 90-minute drive from Jaipur, was originally built by the royal Shahpura clan 230 years ago. Alila Fort Bishangarh opened its doors in 2017 after an extensive 10-year makeover. Today, its carefully restored residences are juxtaposed against plenty of the building’s original features.
Go for The overarching sense of tranquillity, from the organic garden and fruit orchard, to the secluded pool bar in the courtyard, and the spa carved out between granite rocks in what was once the fort’s dungeon.
The USP Sustainability is at the heart of everything Alila Fort Bishangarh does. The fortress is solar-friendly and committed to reducing its environmental footprint while supporting the local community.
Off NH-8 at Manoharpur, Bishangarh; +91 72 3005 8058
What Inside the doors of the iconic 300-year-old City Palace, you’ll find the Royal Gudliya Suite, which is the official home of Jaipur’s royal family. Not technically a hotel, this one-of-a-kind homestay experience is as royally immersive as it gets. True to form, the suite is located in one of the palace’s private sections, which until now was reserved exclusively for royalty, and comes with its own lounge, kitchen and personal indoor pool.
Go for A totally unique taste of royal living, hosted by the Maharaja himself.
The USP You’ll be making history as one of the first commoners to ever stay in the City Palace. Plus, all proceeds from bookings are to be donated to local social outreach initiative the Princess Diya Kumari Foundation.
Tulsi Marg, Gangori Bazaar, JDA Market, Jaipur