The lives of Maharajas were once a reality, but those eras of pomp and splendour have become just a fantasy. There is, however, a chance to relive the bygone days with age-old palaces being fast turned into heritage hotels.There are several heritage hotels across India, which lure tourists to take a break from their daily rigmarole and spend some days in luxury that is reminiscent of a royal past. These luxury hotels give you the chance to live life king size. It includes the opportunity of making a grand entry on an elephant – the way the rajas and maharajas used to arrive.
Heritage Hotels in North and West India
In Rajasthan, you will come across umpteen number of heritage hotels. The Laxmi Niwas Palace in Bikaner is an example. Maharaja Ganja Singhi had built this palace in 1902 as his private residence. It is located on the banks of Fateh Sagar lake. The palace has 42 rooms which were also used to house guests visiting the Maharaja. Today, this has turned into a hotel giving common people a chance to live the aristocratic life, even if it is for a few days. A slice of history is what we take home, not just facts from a staid history books that many find difficult to connect with.
Gujarat has heritage hotels as well, if not as many as Rajasthan; so do Pune, Mumbai and Mahabaleshwar in Maharashtra. Though they might not belong to the category of big league heritage hotels, yet having them in the vicinity could mean a weekend getaway into history. The regal feel is further accentuated by modern day amenities to make a guest feel comfortable and not entirely cut off from the contemporary world.
Heritage Hotels That Stand Out
Heritage hotels should not necessarily represent the bygone era and the royal lives of the maharajas in India. There are hotels like the Lalit Great Eastern Hotel in Kolkata, which might not have been a palace, but it is a heritage property of immense significance. Built in 1841, the hotel has welcomed royal guests and celebrities such as Queen Elizabeth II and Mark Twain. Known initially as the Auckland Hotel, a once very popular accommodation has reopened its gates to business travellers and tourists in the heart of the city.While the heritage blocks retain the historic touch,the new block gives a contemporary feel.Wining and dining at the age-old eating haunts is an experience. At the ‘Bakery’, a coffee shop serving English breakfast too, the guests would not miss the antique oven.
The century-old Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai is not just another heritage accommodation, but an intrinsic part of city’s history. This landmark hotel was set up even before the Gateway of India was included in the map of Mumbai. For over a century, the Taj has hosted Maharajas, dignitaries and eminent personalities from world over.
New-age hotels have their own charm with state-of-the-art décor accompanied by a modern look and feel.It is luxury of a different level. There are umpteen such hotels springing up in every corner of the country to suit individual tastes and budgets. These hotels are a more contemporary alternatives to heritage hotels.