In the midst of negotiating the hectic roads of Jaipur, the bustling capital of Rajasthan, our driver suddenly swings the car into a discreet driveway. We pass through a turreted “elephant gate” painted a pretty pale pink and follow the gravelled route flanked by verdant gardens before pulling up outside a palace painted in the same pink as the regal entranceway. Half a dozen smiling and smartly dressed men each wearing a distinctive candy pink turban wait to welcome us. We are greeted – rather fittingly for The Pink City – with a glass of rose sparkling wine.
So far, so Jaipur perhaps but inside is a complete surprise. Sujan Rajmahal Palace, now a luxury boutique hotel, may be approaching 300 years old but its interior has been decorated in a refreshingly contemporary way. Each of the public spaces is adorned with fantastically striking, custom made wallpaper from bright pinks and turquoise blues to sultry Art Deco Chinoiserie and Indian inspired designs. The chandeliers, antiques and paintings remind you however that you are staying in a royal residence.
As palaces go Rajmahal is on the petite side rather than a mammoth mausoleum with just 14 guest rooms – it was commissioned by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II for his wife. Society interior designer Adil Ahmad, recently commissioned to spruce the place up, has achieved a sumptuous cosiness that feels like a private home albeit a very grand one. Jaipur’s royal family still own Rajmahal (it is run by Sujan, the renowned company behind three luxury tented camps in Rajasthan) and the princess has an office in the grounds though they reside in the far larger City Palace in old Jaipur (the hotel can arrange a private tour of this palace as well as secure you a set in the royal box at the polo).
© This article was first published in Aug-Sept 2017 edition of World Travel Magazine.