Besides being a place of great historical and cultural significance, India is the perfect destination for those who want to lose themselves in the glorious splendour of the kings and royalty of the ancient India, and the heritage hotels in India are ideal.
From the Mughals to the Rajputs, each era is distinctly marked in the cultural heritage of India by the beautiful fortresses, palaces and the temples that have been bestowed upon the country by the great kings and rulers of yore.
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Each historical monument is an architectural masterpiece that showcases exemplary craftsmanship and skill. From the style of architecture to those used to carve out sculptures and idols, each monument is an incredible example of the excellent skill of the artisans of the country.
India was a congregation of as many as 565 kingdoms hundreds of years ago. These kingdoms were ruled by kings and princes of reputed dynasties. Beautiful palaces and forts were built in different parts of the country by these rulers.
During the British Raj, the British set up several mansions and outhouses which were used as residences and summer retreats. Post-Independence in 1947, all the princely kingdoms were merged with the Republic of India.
The British mansions and outhouses were purchased by the Indian royalty for their personal use. Later in 1971, the Constitution of India abolished royalty and withdrew all royal privileges. Following this, some royal families sold their palaces and forts, others leased them out, and a very few retained their properties.
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Another reason for leasing out these palatial monuments was to ensure their sustenance. With changing times and increasing expenses, maintenance work of palaces wasn’t an easy job anymore. Hence, several palaces were taken over by the leading hotel groups in the country and converted into Heritage Hotels in India.
Although renovations and contemporary additions were made, care was taken to ensure that the ancient ambience of the palaces was kept intact. In this way the most exquisite Heritage Hotels of India came into existence, which attract hundreds and thousands of tourists from all around the world throughout the year.
Here’s a comprehensive list of the top heritage hotels in India:
Rajasthan is the undisputed leader in heritage tourism. Out of the top 25 heritage hotels in the country, Rajasthan is home to 18 of them.
The state of Rajasthan was awarded at the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards for offering heritage hotels that tender the best of contemporary facilities to its guests, while also preserving the history and heritage of the palaces in the best form.
1. Basant Vihar Palace
Bikaner is one of the most colourful places in Rajasthan. Beyond the golden sands of the Thar, the city of Bikaner holds within it some of the best Heritage Hotels in India.
The landscape of the city, dotted with little houses built in the traditional style, and the colourful turbans and ghagra cholis of the people, is an enticement in itself.
The Basant Vihar Palace is one of the grand heritage hotels in Bikaner and is a reservoir of the arts and culture of the region. The beautiful palace was built by His Highness Maharaj Sri Ganga Singhji and renovated by the House of Bikaji and turned into a heritage hotel.
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The Basant Vihar Palace boasts of beautiful architecture, splendid gardens with fragrant flower beds and spectacular lily ponds. The hotel has about 31 rooms, of which 24 are Royal Deluxe rooms and seven are suites.
Although contemporary additions have been made to each room to make them comfortable and unique, great care has been taken to retain the original character of the rooms and the palace as a whole.
The restaurant at the Basant Vihar Palace dishes out art on a platter. The chefs at the royal restaurant at the Basant Vihar Palace are experts at Mughlai, Chinese and Continental delicacies. For those who are keen on trying out authentic Rajasthani cuisine, the chefs offer recipes that have been handed down the generations.
2. Lalgarh Palace
The Lalgarh Palace is another grand heritage hotel that is the pride of Bikaner. The palace was built by His Highness Maharaj Shri Ganga Singhji in memory of his father Maharaj Lall Singhji in 1902 AD. The palace was designed by Col. Sir Swinton Jacob who used an extremely innovative blend of Mughal, Rajpur and European architectural styles.
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The blatant Rajput style of the exterior stands in stark contrast to the European and American interiors. The palace is made of beautiful red sandstone and showcases intricately carved jharokhas.
The palace is surrounded by expansive lawns where you can occasionally find peacocks strutting about. The galleries and alleyways of the palace are decorated with rare copies of old prints and vintage etchings.
The palace has about 56 rooms, which comprise of superior and standard rooms. All rooms are fitted with modern amenities and facilities to ensure that all guests have a comfortable stay.
The hotel has hosted some very important personalities from all over the world such as Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan, politician Amar Singh, actor Dharmendra, Ambassador of USA Robert Black.
3. Narayan Niwas Palace Hotel
The Narayan Niwas Palace Hotel is a 19th century heritage building situated in the beautiful city of Jaisalmer. The palace was restored and renovated in 1982 and has ever since been the first choice of travellers interested in the history and heritage of Jaisalmer.
The palace is made of red sandstone and has intricate carvings that speak volumes of the skill and craftsmanship of its creators.
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The palace hotel has about 50 air-conditioned rooms, fancy restaurants that serve the best of Indian, Chinese and Continental cuisines, and more.
The most attractive offerings of the palace hotel include the roof top restaurant and bar that proffer a splendid view of the Thar desert and its all-weather swimming pool or bawri, which comes attached with a sauna and gymnasium.
Visitors can explore the sandy secrets of the region on camel or jeep safaris which are conducted from Bikaner to Jaisalmer. For those who are fans of folk arts, local artists present culture music and dance performances in the evening.
4. Jagat Niwas Palace
The Jagat Niwas Palace is a 17th century haveli situated in the city of Udaipur in Rajasthan. Nestled on the Eastern banks of the Lake Pichola, the palace exhibits the intricacies of the Mewar style of architecture.
The location of the Niwas Palace makes it a vantage point to view all the other palaces of Udaipur such as the Monsoon Palace, the City Palace and the Lake Palace. The haveli was made at the same time as the Badi Mahal in the City Palace.
Photo credit: Zen Skillircorn - flickr
The Jagat Niwas Palace is one of the best grand Heritage Hotels in India. It has 29 beautiful and cosy rooms which are unique in design and interiors, situated in a central courtyard. The rooms are classified as standard, haveli, raj and pichola, heritage and suites.
The heritage, raj and pichola rooms face the Pichola Lake. All rooms have traditional furniture and elegant furnishings. One of the most attractive features of the Jagat Niwas Palace is that it has a lake side restaurant that serves Indian, Chinese and Continental cuisines.
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For the entertainment of its guests, the Jagat Niwas Palace arranges folk music and dance performances on request. The haveli is equipped with all modern facilities and amenities for the comfort of its guests.
In addition, there is an Ayurvedic massage centre, a shopping arcade and arrangements for horse safaris at this grand heritage hotel.
5. Bhanwar Niwas Palace
In the sandy stretches of Bikaner, lies one of the grandest Heritage Hotels of India. The Bhanwar Niwas Palace was commissioned by Seth Bhanwarlalji Rampuria in 1927 and was built using a fabulous blend of Indian and European styles of architecture.
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Although contemporary touches have been made to the palace while transforming it into a heritage hotel, the flamboyant and regal spirit of the palace has been kept intact.
The beautiful galleries, alleyways, jharokhas and halls speak volumes about the skill and craftsmanship of the artisans who toiled in creating this wonderful monument.
Kerala is best known for its picturesque beauty, thick coconut groves, placid backwaters, lovely beaches and cosy houseboats. But very few know about the splendid Heritage Hotels in the state. Heritage Hotels in Kerala are usually situated near the backwaters and offer a great view of the scenic beauty of the region.
The most attractive feature about the Heritage Hotels in Kerala is that they are often clubbed with Ayurvedic rejuvenation and massage centres and the Yoga centres which offer great remedies for holistic healing.
The beautiful surroundings and the goodness of Yoga and Ayurveda make the Heritage Hotels in Kerala very popular among tourists from all over the country and the world.
6. Hotel Lake Palace Resort
The Lake Palace Resort is situated in the Alleppey district of Kerala. Alleppey is best known for its backwaters, houseboats and delectable cuisine. The Hotel Lake Palace is situated on the banks of the Vembanad Lake and is located very close to the venue of the Nehru Trophy Boat Race which is a great attraction for both domestic and international tourists.
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The hotel was the recipient of the TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice Award in 2012. The hotel has some very beautiful premium lake view cottages, standard lake view cottages, water villas and Kerala cottages which are fitted with all modern facilities and amenities.
The hotel also has a renowned Ayurvedic massage and treatment centre which offers packages such as anti-obesity, slimming therapy, panchakarma, purification and de-stress therapies.
Apart from relaxing at the Ayurvedic rejuvenation centre, visitors can also enjoy houseboat and backwater cruises in the beautiful waters of Allepey.
7. Coconut Lagoon Resort
Photo credit: tourismkerala.com
Located on the banks of the Vembanad Lake, the Coconut Lagoon Resort has been rated as one of the best hotels in India and one of the top 25 getaways in the world by Conde Nast Traveller magazine. Presenting the best of natural beauty of Kerala, the Coconut Lagoon Resort offers peace and tranquillity that is hard to find these days.
The chirping of birds in the nearby bird sanctuary constantly reminds you of the company of nature and the expansive stretch of the lake is dotted with the tourist boats. The design of the resort is such that it will transport you to a completely different era.
The timber used is around 200 years old, the brass detailing and the woodwork in the verandah and ceilings are reminiscent of the glory of the ancient tharavads of Kerala.
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The resort has heritage bungalows, heritage mansions and pool villas which are fitted with all modern amenities and facilities to cater to the requirements of its guests. The resort also has a beautiful swimming pool, a library and a sea food specialty restaurant called Fort Cochin.
Guests can also enjoy sunset cruises, backwater cruises, undertake farm visits or drop by at the Kumarakom bird sanctuary during their stay at the Coconut Lagoon Resort.
8. Keraleeyam Heritage Home and Ayurvedic Resort
The Keraleeyam Heritage Home and Ayurvedic Resort has been developed in a Kerala home that was built 70 years ago. This beautiful resort which stands facing the beautiful backwaters of Alleppey, has a very well-known Ayurvedic rejuvenation, massage and treatment centre. The Ayurvedic rejuvenation massage centre uses 3000 year old techniques to provide treatments and massages to tourists.
Photo credit: Adams Homestay Cochin
The most attractive feature of the Keraleeyam Heritage Home and Ayurvedic Resort is that it has several heritage styled luxury rooms that are furnished with traditional chairs, cots and tables. The resort also has an open ‘Kalithattu’ or open air theatre where folk art performances are organised for the entertainment of guests.
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The resort also organises different entertainment activities for its guests. Visitors can enjoy boat cruises along the backwaters and lagoons or try Yoga. You can enjoy riding an elephant or dress up like a Kerala bride and groom and get yourself photographed.
9. Hotel Kayaloram Lake Resort
Another one of the grand heritage hotels located by the banks of the Vembanad Lake, the Kayaloram Lake Resort is one of the architectural wonders of Kerala. Nestled in the picturesque beauty of the backwater paradise called Alleppey, the Kayaloram Lake Resort boasts of coconut palms, well-mowed lawns, orchid gardens and a beautiful building which is a splendid blend of contemporary and traditional styles.
Guests at the Kayaloram heritage resort can choose from Lake View and Pool View rooms. The rooms use traditional furniture and furnishings in muted colours and natural fabrics.
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All rooms are fitted with the best of modern amenities and facilities to cater to the requirements of the guests. The resort also has a Kerala Ayurveda Centre and Steam Room that offers the best of Ayurvedic treatments, therapies and massages to the guests.
10. Hotel Punnamada Back Water Resort
The Punnamada Back Water Resort is one of the most popular grand Heritage Hotels in India. Situated by the Vembanad Lake in the Allepey district of Kerala, the Punnamada Back Water Resort offers the best of the natural beauty of Kerala.
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Placid backwaters, lush greenery, delectable Kerala cuisine and the lovely houseboats cruise - the resort is the best place to relax your tired body and nerves. The resort has lake view villas, garden view villas, duplex villas and disabled-friendly rooms. It also has a fully equipped Ayurvedic treatment centre where guests can avail of age old Ayurvedic massages and therapies.
Guests can also enjoy houseboat and backwater cruises during their stay at the Punnamada Back Water Resort. The resort offers houseboats that have two luxurious rooms, professional staff and a full-fledged kitchen to cater to all the gastronomic requirements of its guests.
11. Sheesh Mahal
Swathed in an intriguing colour scheme, the Sheesh Mahal hotel in Orchcha, Madhya Pradesh is one of the best heritage hotels in India, if you are looking for a culturally and historically enriching experience.
The Sheesh Mahal offers the best of both worlds – the facilities of the contemporary world on the one hand, and the opulence and old world charm on the other. The palace is still reminiscent of the grandeur of the medieval style of Indian architecture and still retains the charming architectural nuances of the 16th and 17th centuries.
12. Usha Kiran Palace
The Usha Kiran Palace is situated in the city of Gwalior and is located very close to the Jai Vilas Palace and the Captain Roop Singh Stadium. The hotel has about 38 guestrooms fitted with all modern facilities and amenities. All the rooms have been remodelled to make them comfortable in terms of contemporary standards but care has been taken to keep the originality of the rooms intact.
The hotel also offers facilities such as a full-service spa, an outdoor pool and a fitness facility. The hotel also has a full-fledged dining space, a bar and a lounge.
13. Jehan Numa Palace
Photo credit: Stefan Krasowski - flickr
The Jehan Numa Palace is a 19th century palace located on the foothills of the Shamla Hill in Madhya Pradesh. The most notable feature about the palace is the architectural style which is a unique amalgamation of Classic Greek, Italian Renaissance and British Colonial styles.
The palace was built by General Obaidullah Khan, son of ruler Jehan Begum. After the death of the General, the palace went through many hands. His grandsons Nadir and Yawar Rashid were the first to plan to make the palace a world class hotel. However, their plans were realised only in 1983 and in the year 2000, the palace became the first of its kind, a grand heritage hotel in Central India.
14. Ahilya Fort Maheshwar
The Ahilya Fort is a family owned fortress which has been transformed into a heritage hotel. The hotel is situated in Maheshwar in Madhya Pradesh. Maheshwar is a riverside pilgrimage site and is also known for its handloom industry.
Hotel has all modern facilities such as meeting, conference, convention and banquet halls. It also has beauty, health, fitness and wellness centres.
15. Balaram Palace Resort
The Balaram Palace Resort was once used as a hunting retreat by the Lohani Nawab of Palanpur and was built between 1922 and 1936. The most notable feature of the palace resort is the unique style of architecture which is an amalgamation of neo-classical and baroque architectural styles. The palace is built on 13 acres of terraced land and is surrounded by lush greenery.
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The hotel has about 22 air-conditioned rooms fitted with all modern amenities to cater to the requirements of all guests. The hotel has a restaurant called the Chitrasani which offers the choicest delicacies from Indian, Chinese and Continental cuisines. Apart from facilitating sightseeing, nature walks and indoor and outdoor activities, the hotel also has a helipad for receiving guests.
16. Nilambagh Palace Hotel
The Nilambagh Palace Hotel was built by the Gohil Rajputs in 1859 AD. The palace hotel has all the modern amenities to cater to the requirements of its guests. The dining hall of the hotel has beautiful Czechoslovakian chandeliers which are reminiscent of the past glory of the palace.
It also has a small coffee shop, a sprawling conference hall and a garden restaurant to help guests spend their leisure time in comfort.
17. Riverside Palace and Orchard Palace
The Riverside Palace was the official residence of the Crown Prince of the Gondal princely state. The palace was built in the 1800s and the architecture of the building is predominantly colonial. The palace still retains the four post beds, colonial furniture and antique dressers from the family’s heirlooms.
The Orchard Palace was a part of the Huzoor Palace belonging to the Maharaja of Gondal and served as the guest annex of the main palace. The palace was built in the late 19th century. The property gets its name from the mango, chikoo and lime orchards the palace faces.
Both palaces are now being run by the royal families as heritage hotels. These hotels have beautiful lobbies and halls and high ceilings and antique-furnished rooms.
18. Taj Savoy Hotel
The Taj Savoy Hotel in Ooty has been developed around the colonial cottages which were built in 1834 to 1865. Despite the renovation and the refurbishment, the heritage value of these cottages has been kept intact.
All rooms at the Taj Savoy Hotel have been decked using natural fabrics in understated colours so as to give all rooms a natural look. Very few additions have been made to the rooms so as to retain the originality of the rooms.
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All rooms face the well-manicured lawns of the hotel. The suites at the Taj Savoy Hotel have a huge fireplace which provides the rooms a warm ambience during winters.
Guests can indulge in sightseeing, backwater cruises, nature walks, Ayurveda treatments and massages, Yoga and meditation, trekking and more. The hotel also has the well-furnished Canterbury Bar which offers the classic English ambience. The restaurant offers the choicest delicacies from Indian and Continental cuisines.
19. The Gateway Hotel
The Gateway Hotel is situated in the Pasumalai Hill in Tamil Nadu. The hotel boasts of a unique combination of architectural styles and offers a comfortable and peaceful atmosphere for a completely relaxing holiday. The ideal location of the hotel makes it a perfect place to get a picturesque view of the Temple City and the Kodai Hills.
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The hotel has standard, superior and executive rooms that overlook the beautiful city and offer the best in terms of services and quality. The hotel has some great getaway offers for its guests and presents some fabulous facilities such as a fitness centre, badminton court, swimming pool, nature trail, Ayurvedic rejuvenation and intensive treatment centre, and more.
20. The Bangala Karaikudi
The Bangala was earlier known as the ‘Senjai Bangala’, the origin of this beautiful building dates back to around 1910. The reception and verandah of the present Bangala hotel were built around the same time.
The Bangala hotel witnessed a very gradual yet commendable growth rate into one of the most sought after heritage hotels in the country. Around two or three guest rooms were added to the first building in the 1930s.
Earlier, the hotel which served as a guest house then was used to host important guests. However, in 1998, the owners – the Chettiar family – decided to restore the building and after a year of renovation, the Senjai Bangala was re-launched as The Bangala.
The hotel today offers 25 comfortable rooms, a dining facility, a beautiful swimming pool and a spa.
21. INDeco Hotels Swamimalai
One of the best heritage hotels in India, if your choice is to explore the rich cultural and historical background of Tamil Nadu, the INDeco hotel in Swamimalai is the perfect pit-stop for you.
The hotel has been developed in a beautiful home which was built in the late 1800s. The most unique feature of the hotel and its surroundings is that an entire village of the period has been reconstructed around the hotel to lend authenticity and a feel of the era to the place.
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The hotel is also the only Indian recipient of the Global Eco Tourism Award. The hotel offers about 30 suites which are decked in unique styles so that no two rooms look alike. The INDeco Hotel of Swamimalai is without doubt one of the best heritage hotels that you can find the whole of Tanjore.