The amazing India as we know it is famous for its rich and varied culture and heritage. Part of this rich heritage includes the magnificent royal palaces and forts that dot the landscape across the country. Have you ever wondered how the kings and queens of our rich past lived in these gigantic structures? And how luxurious was their life?
Read on to learn more about some of the best heritage hotels in India:
A short brief
Heritage hotels typically operate from establishments such as forts, castles, palaces, hunting lodges, havelis, bungalows, and period buildings. To be classified as “heritage”, these establishments must have been built before 1935 and have a unique and distinctive architectural style, history and atmosphere. Size doesn’t matter.
There are about 140 Heritage Hotels in India. They are all part of the Indian Heritage Hotels Association (IHHA), which was established in 1990 and charged with looking after them, maintaining them and turning them into productive buildings.
The Government of India recognized heritage hotels as a separate category of Indian tourism in 1991. The term heritage tourism was thus coined. These Heritage hotels in India today are classified as – Heritage, Heritage Classic and Heritage Grand.
Top 7 Historic Hotels in India
Jagat Niwas Palace, Udaipur
Owned by Thakur Devraj Singh Jagat, a former Rajput royal, is an early 17th century mansion (haveli), located on the eastern shore of Lake Pichola in Udaipur.
The Jagat Niwas Palace is a historic boutique hotel built in marble. It boasts of majestic architecture, convenient location and stunning views. The hotel is surrounded by ancient temples and havelis and takes you back in time to a bygone era. Every nook and cranny of this hotel is filled with traditional artifacts and remnants of a rich past.
Each room at Jagat Niwas Palace is sumptuous with vintage decor and antique furnishings and offers panoramic views of Lake Pichola and the Aravalli Mountains. Don’t miss the royal dining experience on the lake at the hotel, accompanied by traditional music and a perfect setting fit for a king!
Ratan Vilas, Jodhpur
Ratan Vilas, a heritage mansion built in 1920, was once the residence of Maharaj Ratan Singhji of Raoti. Today, the Maharaj’s great-grandson, Brijraj Singh and his family continue to reside in a part of the building which was once the Zenana (ladies quarter). They continue to ensure that all guests of Ratan Vilas have a comfortable and memorable stay.
The hotel only has 21 rooms because it believes in improving the guest experience rather than adding more rooms. The architecture of the hotel is typical of the Jodhpur region and is also made of the famous red Jodhpur sandstone.
Learn about India’s royal past and the valor of the Rajputs through the old royal family portraits that fill the hall, and if you’re lucky you might meet Maharaj Brijraj Singh himself, who would be more than happy to talk to you about his family history, his legacy and his plans for the future.
MG’s house, Ahmedabad
La Maison de MG is a mansion with impressive colonial heritage architecture. It was built in the early 20th century by one of the founders of the city, Shri Mangaldas. La Maison de MG offers 37 beautifully restored rooms and two popular restaurants. The highlight of this hotel is its gallery which displays traditional textiles, jewelry and silverware from the Mangaldas family collection and even has a special section dedicated to children.
The hotel is also famous for hosting the Father of the Nation – Mahatma Gandhi, in 1915 when he was returning from South Africa.
Maison MG celebrates and sponsors local craftsmanship. Every piece of furniture and upholstery in the hotel is handmade! If you want to experience Gujarati hospitality in an ambience that makes you feel at home, book a stay at this haveli for a truly memorable experience.
Fort Jadhavgadh, Pune
Step into a world of 300 years of royal Maratha heritage at Fort Jadhavgadh. The fort was built in 1710 by Shri Pilaji Jadhavrao, a Maratha general in the army of Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj, as a residence. Located on the outskirts of Pune (14 km), the fort has been converted into a hotel and is currently operated by the Orchid hotel group.
Fort Jadhavgadh has wonderfully preserved its cultural heritage and legacy and offers a plethora of secret passages, dungeons, cannons, green lawns and the endless interesting stories of Maratha valor and bravery. The hotel offers 58 rooms including suites, tents and cottages, giving you the perfect blend of old-world charm and contemporary luxury. Be sure to experience a culinary ambience unique to the resort and taste the best of traditional Maharashtrian cuisine while staying here.
Fernhills Royal Palace, Ooty
Originally built by Captain F. Cotton in 1844 as a club hotel, Fernhills Royale Palace became the Maharaja of Mysore’s summer palace when His Highness Chamarajendra Wadiyar X purchased it from the British in 1873. The The hotel is currently managed by His Highness Pramoda Devi of The Wadiyar Dynasty of Mysore in collaboration with Welcome Heritage Hotels by ITC Ltd.
Spread over 50 acres of lush lawns and surrounded by cardamom and tea plantations and eucalyptus forests, the hotel offers panoramic views of tea gardens and valleys. The Palace Hotel looks like a Swiss chalet and is simply breathtaking. It is constructed with Burmese teak and ornamental papier-mâché ceilings.
Fernhills offers 19 suites that are majestically decorated and equipped with world-class amenities. Dine at the award-winning Curry and Rice restaurant, which serves delicious Italian, Continental, Chinese and Nilgiri cuisines.
The Rajbari Bawali, Kolkata
Located 1.5 hours from Kolkata, the Rajbari Bawali is a 300-year-old heritage property that looks straight out of a movie set with its sprawling hallways, lawns and old colonial-style architecture.
The mansion was built by the Zamindars of the Mondal dynasty in Bawali. It has now been restored and converted into a hotel to give us a taste of the luxury, style and Bengal heritage of the Zamindars.
Rooms at the Rajbari offer a signature heritage style that includes antique carved four-poster beds, vintage furniture, marble floors and state-of-the-art amenities.
Dine at the Piano Room restaurant which serves many dishes from Mughal, British, Portuguese, Armenian, Jewish and Bangladeshi cuisine.
The Judge’s Court, Kangra
The Judge’s Court is a country mansion located in Pragpur village, Kangra district, Himachal Pradesh. It is located at an elevation of 2,000 feet above sea level in the Kangra Valley.
The Judge’s Court was built by Jai Lal, a 7th generation resident of Pragpur whose ancestors had migrated from Amarkot (now in Pakistan) and Sirhind. Judge’s Court offers an ambience of a bygone era along with contemporary amenities and conveniences. Find yourself transported to cities like Lahore and Shimla from the days of the Raj, and have a relaxed and experiential vacation that is much needed in these stressful modern times.
So if you fancy living the life of a royal or former noble, choose one of these top Heritage hotels for your next vacation and live the life of a king!