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8 October 2011 - CNN International

Asia's best suite and world's first in-suite museum

The Rajasthan palace called Raj Palace in Jaipur was awarded this year's World Travel Award for "Asia's leading suite" for its Maharajah's Pavilion presidential suite.

The Pavilion also won the same award last year, and the Palace's Durbar Mahal suite won the award in 2009.

How spectacular are these hotels? We find out.

For starters the palace is 300 years old -- even older than the city of Jaipur itself. Built in 1727 the royal family of Jaipur still owns the heritage property of 40 rooms and Princess Jayendra Kumari helped with its revamp in 1995.

Raj Palace hotel
This second-floor of the Maharajah's Pavilion has gold leaf painted ceilings, crystal chandeliers, stucco mirrors, and a separate staff quarters.

The Maharajah's Pavilion suite, in which 16 generations of royal family have stayed, is its own majestic block measuring nearly 5,000 square meters, and with an elevator connecting all four floors.

In this Rajasthan palace guests are greeted by two ranks of butlers holding Champagne, garlands, cold towels and snacks.

On the first floor is a lounge, extra luggage storage area, and another private sitting area with a bar.

The second floor has a double-height reception room with garden views, and two bedrooms -- all furniture is in gold and silver.

Probably one of the most exciting parts about this suite's floor is its private passageways connecting different pavilions -- it also has the world's first in-suite museum.

“Having a museum helps people get a feeling of how the royal family used to live -- for example we’ve displayed the original Chanel No.5 from the 1930s and an old throne of the Thakur sahib," says 31-year old Ankur Rara, general manager, Raj Palace.

Raj Palace hotel
The central courtyard is said to be Raj Palace's most powerful point, and the suite offers views of four out of the seven courtyards.

The third floor has a library, dining room with a butler entrance, kitchen, and another bedroom. The fourth floor has a master bedroom, rooftop pool, whirlpool spa and terrace with panoramic views of Jaipur city.

The palace is designed in line with architectural guides described in ancient Indian texts known as the Vastushastras. For example, the multiple tiers of the suite are supposed to represent the ascending realms of heaven.

“Being a large suite doesn’t necessarily matter, the suite stands out because of the guests' satisfaction who voted for this suite," says Rara.

The Maharajah Pavilion costs Rs 700,200 or just over US$14,000 plus 15.5 percent in taxes, and accommodates up to 10 guests.

"We obviously don't want to spoil the surprise, however we can mention that we're looking into having a helipad, fountains and private gardens," says Rara.

It can be even booked one day prior to arrival -- however, there is a 100 per cent charge for cancellations within 20 days.

It may be safer to stick to an average nightly rate of Rs 22,000, plus taxes.

The hotel is now building a brand new suite that will be entered into the “World’s Leading Presidential Suite" category of the World Travel Awards next year.

"It will be the world’s most expensive suite," says Rara.

The Raj Palace is an experience of living like Indian royalty and there's no doubt it deserves the award, but we've also chosen four other Rajasthan palaces and recommended their grandest hotel suites, in the slightly less princely price range.

Source: CNN International


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