Built in 1821 as the official residence of the British Resident Political Officer of Rajputan, and occupied in 1958 by His Highness Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II of Jaipur, the Raj Mahal is a palace that regular folk, like you and I, can stay in if we’d like to feel like royalty. As we approached the entry porte cochere, the first thing I noticed was the 1950’s Ford Thunderbird with the “Jaipur” personalized license plates. The vehicle was custom made for the royal family and only driven by the men. (After witnessing the chaotic driving style in India, I can appreciate the skill it must have taken to keep this car in pristine condition.)
Standing next to the Thunderbird, men in pink turbans ushered us into the grand hallway where jewel tone velvet lounge chairs floated atop an art deco checkered floor. Where marble bowls of rose petals and gilt-framed photographs of royalty lead us into the multiple whimsical dining rooms. The scent of tuberose wafted throughout the hallways as I made my way towards what could only be described as rooms I had seen before in doll houses. The first room was called the 51 Shades of Pink Dining Room, and it featured flamingo-pink moghul-themed wallpaper. (Indian interior designer Adil Ahmad made use of 37 different styles of wallpaper throughout the hotel.) This room was originally designed as an homage to the famous 1952 Vogue magazine cover photographed in India by Norman Parkinson.
Exploring the 14 guest suites at the palace was like sampling the best treats in a French bakery. The Queen Elizabeth II Suite, built for Her Highness and the Duke of Edinburgh for their state visit in 1961; The Kennedy Suite, where First Lady Jackie stayed for three months in 1962; and the hotel’s grandest accommodation, The Maharaja Royal Apartment were among the most stunning. The suites and apartments had guest rooms, offices, and dining rooms. Our gang got a personalized tour.
A visit to the Raj Mahal Palace would not be complete without a stop for afternoon tea in The Colonnade verandah, surrounded by crystal chandeliers, wainscoting, colonial columns, several fireplaces, and turquoise-colored equestrian-themed wallpaper as an homage to polo, the sport of royalty in Jaipur. And the best part? My hair matched the room!
Although Christmas isn’t typically celebrated in India, the Raj Mahal had a gorgeous Christmas tree in their lobby. It was clear that guests of all religions were made to feel welcome, and were definitely treated to “royal” service. What is inside the gifts?
One of the things I particularly liked about the Raj Mahal is their mission to help clean India. They are committed to eradicating litter, to efficient waste disposal, and to planting fast growing trees. After visiting India, I felt this was something that was sorely needed.
Life as a royal at the Raj Mahal Hotel Palace comes complete with a cashmere shop on the premises Kashmir Loom so you can feel luxurious as well. I learned that the Indian hand embroidery on a cashmere shawl is like a meditation for the seamstress, and can take years to complete. Scott purchased a scarf and I purchased a shawl. They are both gorgeous and so soft! (I am wearing mine in the tea party photo.) A little bit of “Royal” India to bring home with us.
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