India’s charming heritage hotels

A list of hotels that marry a rich, cultural heritage with world-class hospitality

Neemrana Fort Palace

Equidistant from Jaipur and Delhi, this one is what they call a complete package. History? This is a 15- century palace with seven wings built over 12 tiers with six acres of gardens. Luxury? Each room is well-designed and kitted with all mod cons. Adventure? The hotel organises zip-lining tours across the surrounding ridges. And in case you do manage to tear yourself away, hop into one of their vintage cars for a tour of the town.

Hotel Diggi Palace

If you’re looking for a classic romantic stay, head to Hotel Diggi Palace. The 18th-century palace was converted into a hotel in 1991, but has retained its royal grandeur. The 70 rooms all exude vintage charm. In the 80s, rooms 501 and 108 served as pilots’ quarters, when the palace lawns served as the launch pad for hot-air balloons. Today, the garden has peacocks and parrots darting around while you have your breakfast. The hotel also hosts the annual Jaipur Literature Festival.

Windamere Hotel

This is good choice if you want to relive the days of the Raj. After checking in, enjoy the high tea at the Windamere–complete with cucumber sandwiches and cakes. Indulge further by booking a room in the Anandale House, done up like an English cottage right down to the chintz-and-toile patterned upholstery, comforting fireplaces and Victorian bathtubs. There’s a ‘sun deck’ to take in warm afternoons, and candle-lit dinners to look forward to as afters.

The Malabar House Fort

Ever wondered what it’s like to stay in a museum? Malabar House, in Fort Cochin, is where you can find out. Your room will likely be an ornate affair with brass and wood-cut statues flanking gorgeous expanses of contemporary art. Fort Kochi is seeped in history, and the hotel’s location allows you good access to the city’s heritage. When you’re not soaking in hotel’s elegant plunge pool, you can enjoy the dance performances hosted in-house or even take an elephant ride.

Devi Garh by Lebua

Why should the Devi Garh be on your list? Because this is the hotel Arun Nayar and Liz Hurley chose for their extravagant wedding. Because the Devi Garh Suite and Palace Suite are hypnotic, thanks largely to the black marble swimming pool, jacuzzi, and the semi-precious stones adorning the walls. Because location is important. Because it was picked as the Best Boutique Hotel in India by readers of Conde Nast Traveller India. Because all this opulence comes with a conscience: the hotel recycles its water and paper and funds dams that supply water to the Delwara village.