After having expressed a deep desire (innumerable times) to spend a night in a real palace, one day my husband finally surprised me by booking the Royal Suite at The Rambagh Palace in Jaipur, Rajasthan — his one-night anniversary gift to me. Wow! Was I excited! The Rambagh Palace was built in 1835 for the Royal family of Jaipur, and was later converted into a 5-star hotel after the Royal family moved out in 1957. The palace is located almost 8 kms outside the walls of the city.
We had been to Jaipur quite a few times before, and this time we decided to stay on the Palace premises instead of exploring the city. We had planned a rough itinerary, which mainly included ‘activities’ such as enjoying a nice massage, going for a swim in the clear, blue, indoor pool, and take the Heritage Walk around the huge Palace gardens.
Greeted with peacocks
We reached Rambagh in the afternoon. The place is so huge that the palace comes into view after quite a while after one drives past the palace gates. The double staircase entry to the lobby reminded me of Princess Diaries and I fely very much like Princess Mia, being welcomed by the staff, though there were Indian touches like ‘Khamagani’- the Rajasthani equivalent to ‘Welcome’– the ‘tikkas’ and flower garlands.
The Badal Mahal Suite at Rambagh Palace
My husband had booked the Badal Mahal Suite, (Literal translation -‘a palace among the clouds’), which overlooked one of the gardens of the palace and had a city view. It was absolutely exquisite. The soft mattress of the 2 queen-sized beds could get even an adult to go bounce, bounce, bounce. In a corner was a daybed which had a 180° view of the garden below. I would’ve spent an entire day on it just reading my book, but we were booked for just a day.
The bathroom, too, was elegantly done up. It had stairs that led to a white marbled Jacuzzi, with a private view of the garden! Pure bliss! During my 30-minute relaxing bath, I spent the first 10 wondering why the Royal Family moved out of the Palace. The bathroom was full of the most luxurious amenities. I could swear the bathrobe was made of clouds.
The Verandah Cafe at Rambagh Palace
After my husband and I freshened up, we decided to eat at The Verandah Cafe in the palace since it was drizzling slightly. The Verandah Cafe overlooked the Palace courtyard and the vast garden beyond. The entire view was so scenic and serene. Couple that with the beautiful weather and the mouth-watering food, and it was what heaven must be like! We ordered roasted salmon for starters, grilled chicken and lamb seekh for our main course and the chocolate mud pie served with cheese-cake and vanilla ice cream for dessert. It was simply divine. We were told that there were Rajasthani folk-music and dance performances held in the courtyard.
By the time we finished our lovely lunch, it had stopped drizzling, so we decided to get on with our itinerary and go for a walk around the palace. The gardens looked even more beautiful after the rain and there were peacocks dancing all around the place.
We were accompanied by one of the staff members for the Heritage walk through the palace grounds, and told about the history of the palace and the royal families. To entertain us alongside, we were told about the many celebrities who had visited the Palace, and about some of the most expensive destination weddings at the Palace.
The Palace Walk
The Palace walk took us more than an hour, mainly because the palace grounds are vast and also because we wanted to capture everything. In the process, I think we ended up taking nearly a thousand photos. We were quite spent after our walk, so we moved on to the relaxing part of our itinerary, namely the Spa!
We decided to relax with a swim in the indoor pool before getting one of the best body-massages ever. We wished our masseuse’s hands just wouldn’t stop moving -– the kind of magic they were working on us! Our bodies were more relaxed than ever before. I’m pretty sure I dozed off during the massage and had the best nap ever. And if I snored, the masseuse made no comment.
We went back to our room to be alone and spend sometime together since it technically was our anniversary. We ended up playing ‘Shatranj’, (‘Chess’ for the commoners), wine in hand with the view of the sunset from our little nook on the ‘Diwan’. Maybe it was the palace walk or the wine, but we felt hungry for some snacks so we ended up ordering some food in our room. The service was excellent, the aroma of the pasta almost had me drooling and the chicken Caesar sandwiches was simple yet delicious.
The Polo Bar at Rambagh Palace
We took a quick nap before getting dressed to go to the Polo Bar — (it’s where the Royal Family would go for drinks after a game of polo) — for drinks before heading to the Rajput Room for dinner. Since the sun had set, the entire palace was beautifully illuminated with lights, and there were beautiful decorated candles lit in the corridors to give it an ethnic feel.
The exquisite Rajput Room had the ultimate feel of Royalty and Luxury, with its beautiful arches, the high ceiling with a beautiful chandelier, and a huge portrait of Maharani Gayatri Devi, the late Maharani of Jaipur.
We felt like Indian cuisine that evening and so, ended up ordering Tandoori Chicken Tikka, Laal Maas, and some Paneer Khatta Pyaz to eat along with some flat wheat breads (‘rotis‘ in Hindi). The chocolate was bypassed for dessert and we each ordered Malai Kulfi! No question about the service; it was exemplary. The staff was so courteous and polite, it was hard not to feel overwhelmed. We managed to make it back to our rooms, even though we were too full to move.
The thought of vacating the room at 12 the next day was disappointing, but we swore to be back again.
Even just one day of royal living was exhilarating. Our stay was absolutely delightful. We enjoyed ourselves to the fullest. My husband has managed to score some brownie points! I looked back to get a last glimpse of my fairy tale destination.