Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur, Rajasthan $$$$
Concierge.com's insider take:
If your invitation to overnight at Buckingham Palace has not been forthcoming, take solace that the welcome mat is always out at this equally royal residence. (Well, not quite equally, as royal titles were officially done away with in India in the 1970s.) While 64 of the Umaid Bhawan Palace's 347 rooms are now given over to hotel guests, it is still home to the Maharaja of Jodhpur, who, it seems useful to know, has dogs named Gimlet, Tia Maria, and Pepsi yipping about the property. The largest and most recently constructed of Rajasthan's palaces, the Umaid Bhawan was completed in 1944, with a golden sandstone exterior in a style sometimes called Indo Deco. It's been a hotel since 1972 and recently became part of the Taj Group, which added an outdoor pool (there was already one indoors), and upgraded the rooms with new fabrics and furnishings, including the requisite flat-screen televisions, while retaining the bold patterns and colors of the Art Deco style. Among the grander rooms is the Maharaja Suite, with murals depicting leopards, tigers, and the Jodhpur sport of pigsticking. This does raise the question, "Where does the Maharaja sleep?" For an answer, follow the sound of the dogs.
From the editors of Condé Nast Traveler:Even the most jaded traveler will be pleasantly surprised by this Art Deco royal residence cum hotel, now expertly run by the Taj Group. Today, the royal family lives in one wing, while guests pretend to the throne along endless marble corridors and in expansive gardens clipped to perfection. All 75 sizable rooms have Wi-Fi access and around-the-clock butler service. Dine in the pavilion for views of the palace and Mehrangarh Fort"the work of angels and giants," according to Rudyard Kipling. The hotel arranges exclusive safaris that whisk guests into the desert, where camels and peacocks roam free. 2006 Hot List
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