Built by the aristocratic Maharajas in 1727, fortified walls protect The Raj Palace from outside fray. Those heading inside receive a warm welcome: a gatekeeper dressed in traditional wares and a red turban greets each guest as they arrive, ushering them through the palace’s opulent entrance to check-in, where soulful piped music plus marigold garland gifting awaits.
An expansive central courtyard is the hotel’s nucleus, with quintessential Indian, multi-foil arched walkways and guestrooms wrapping around its grass terre (come nighttime, a group of local musicians play traditional Rajasthani folklore here). Dispersed gardens and a set of smaller courtyards populate the premises. Grand pillars and ornate wall decorations appear ubiquitously.
The interiors pay homage to the hotel’s royal past. You’ll find gilded furniture, oriental rugs, crystal chandeliers, rich fabrics, hand-painted frescoes, mirror work, and endless antiques that visually help tell the stay’s multi-century story. With a treasure trove of historical vestiges helping play a role in their overall maximalist aesthetic, the 50 spacious rooms & suites here are akin to a museum; each dons a different look than the one beside it.
Serving up tasty Indian dishes, the Swapna Mahal Restaurant is kitted out in ornate leaf work, sumptuous furniture, plus antiquarian trappings.
Onsite also is the Kebab Shop, which offers Mughlai-style cuisine, plus The Shikardabi Bar, a space for indulging in a glass of wine while admiring hand-painted frescoes of hunting scenes slathering walls.
Make sure to get some much-deserved R&R in with a trip to the spa or mosaic-tiled pool.
Location: Jaipur, India
The vibe: A day in the life of the elite Maharajas (but just with modern comforts and conveniences).
Our favorite thing about the hotel: Rooms & suites are chock full of centuries-old Maharaja vestiges, which makes the stay feel like a museum. Treasures can be found everywhere.
Food & Drink: Upscale Indian food can be found at the aesthetically pleasing Swapna Mahal Restaurant. Those seeking something more causal can head over the Kebab Shop for Mughali-style delights. Sip wine at the Shikardabi Bar, alongside its hand-painted frescoes.
Any neighborhood recs? Jaipur is enchanting to its core. Check out the pink Hawa Mahal, the city’s most iconic palace (it definitely made it on your friend who visited Jaipur’s Instagram feed). For a dinner like no other, hire a car to take you to Mohan Mahal: a one-of-a-kind restaurant dressed head to toe in candles and over 3,000 broken mirror pieces, which, in addition to traditional musicians drumming and singing in the background, boasts a top-line menu serving regional delights.
Amenities: Pool, bar, restaurants, gardens, spa, and free Wi-Fi
What’s in town?: Amber Fort, Hawa Mahal, City Palace, and the Nahargharh Fort
Room count: 50
Pricing: Rates start at $162/night
Closest Airport: Jaipur International Airport