Taj Lake Palace - Udaipur
This 18th-century white marble palace, located in the middle of Lake Pichola, is classic picture-postcard material. Hovering mysteriously in the glistening waters, over the years it has become an icon of Udaipur and has enjoyed a starring role in both the James Bond action thriller Octopussy and Jewel in the Crown. The Taj Lake Palace is the ultimate base from which to explore, whether in a vintage car, on foot, elephant, camel or horseback, all before heading back for a candlelit feast or to sail into the sunset on the seriously luxurious spa boat.
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Bal Samand - Jodhpur
If you've always wanted to live like a princess, then this is the palace for you. Bal Samand is a cool and cosseting all-suite hideaway, just outside the ‘blue city’ of Jodhpur, offering uniquely decorated guestrooms with heaps of old-style grandeur. Doting staff flit about the manicured gardens, often accompanied by a peacock or two, to ensure your every whim is catered for. Plus, if you really want to up it a notch on feeling like royalty you can always take a ride around the grounds in your very own horse-drawn carriage…
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Samode Palace - Jaipur
Set against a backdrop of the Aravalli Hills, Samode Palace flawlessly combines the splendor of traditional Indian culture with the sumptuousness of a contemporary hotel. A morning dip in the marble-mosaic pool is a must-do, as is a restorative Ayurvedic massage, but best of all is returning from a camel ride in the desert at dusk, to watch the evening light transform the palace into a palatial, candlelit wonderland.
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Devi Garh - Udaipur
Think Rajasthan is all mirrored fabrics and sequined throws? Think again. Devi Garh’s 18th-century exterior of turrets and domes may look traditional, but step inside and it’s minimalism a la mode – all white marble, modern spaces and not a painted peacock in sight. This is one of India’s most bona fide boutique hotels and it deservedly draws a discerning and admiring clientele. With staff that outnumber guests here by four-to-one, the service here is off the scale. Particularly in the seriously luxurious Devi Spa by L'Occitane, where you can get everything from traditional massages to more contemporary treatments. It's palace chic with a twist and we like it.
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Ahilya Fort - Madhya Pradesh
Choc-a-block with charms and high above the sacred Narmada River, this grown-up rustic retreat resembles something from a film set with its copious balconies, verandas and courtyards. Pretty gardens and excellent home-cooked food add to the experience, whilst a focus on responsible tourism makes it even more popular with those in the know who check in here for the location, (and then find it hard to tear themselves away). Owned and run by the Prince Shivaji Rao Holkar (son of the last Maharaja of Indore) you’ll be treated like royalty throughout your stay, and even get the chance to meet his on-site tailor, who will create you your own bespoke outfit overnight. As far as palace hotels in India go, we're sold.
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