India has many cities and, each brings with it a glaringly different personality. As the hills roll and streets turn, you’re constantly presented with the juxtaposition of poverty and wealth, history and modernity. On one street, mothers escort their children to school barefoot, while on the other, wealthy businessmen ride backseat in their chauffeur-driven luxury cars.
As the country’s technological capital, Hyderabad is the epitome of this dichotomy – it is known as the “city of pearls”, after all. And if there was one hotel that truly represented the city’s rich heritage and opulent way of living, it’s the Taj Falaknuma Palace.
Location, Location, Location
Set 2,000 feet above the bustling city of Hyderabad, the Taj Falaknuma Palace is a scorpion-shaped building that sits opulently on a hill in the south-west of the city. It was once owned by Osman Ali Khan, the last Nizam (ruler) of Hyderabad and once the richest man in the world. The 1894 structure of the palace serves as the perfect watchtower from which to witness the twinkling lights of one of India’s most cosmopolitan cities.
The hotel sits about 30 minutes from the airport, with each stay offering a complimentary transfer so you can arrive without a hitch to the property. The magic really begins once you drive into the palace. Your driver and host will greet you before you set off on horse-and-cart to the main entrance. From there, a red carpet is rolled out and you’ll experience rose petals scattered from the floors above – just how the royals used to.
The palace’s 60 rooms have been restored with every detail in mind. Expect to be wowed by pompous excess in the form of mirrored bathroom walls, marble finishings, a grand four-poster bed, and ceilings as high as they come. Designed by Princess Esra – the Nizam’s Turkish wife – the rooms were clearly built with celebration, relaxation, and luxury in mind. Period accents and ornate details are the stars of the show here, but the little touches like luxuriously soft robes and complimentary skincare kits don’t go amiss either.
Dining with a Difference
When it comes to fine dining at the palace, expect traditional Hyderabadi dishes, including baghara baingan and lamb biryani, amidst a stunning décor of decadent chandeliers and paintings of princesses at Adaa. Alternatively, Celeste offers cuisine from all around the globe, and its Italian fare is par excellence.
As for adding an extra layer of beauty to your evening? Jade Terrance is the only answer. Here, you can enjoy a beautifully plated à la carte breakfast of the continental variety or a British afternoon tea (with an Indian twist, of course). The most spectacular aspect of this dining space? The one-in-a-million view of the city.
The Rest Is History
Undoubtedly, the most spectacular thing about this property is its history and authenticity. The décor – rife with silk prints, hand-painted French Baroque ceilings, and mind-blowing chandeliers – immediately transports you to an era past. Even more special is the fact that all the artefacts and furniture within the palace are original – and practically none of them out of bounds. You can expect access to everything from vintage books in the gorgeous library (with the exception of some first editions that sit behind glass) to a billiards table in the bar, which was gifted by Queen Victoria and is one of only two in the world. The second resides in Buckingham Palace.
You can even sit at the Nizam’s desk or the world’s longest dining table, which can accommodate a whopping 100 guests. The latter sits in a room with acoustics worthy of bragging rights; you can be heard anywhere in the room, regardless of where you’re seated. All of the pomp and splendor is there for you to admire and experience firsthand – you can even learn the history behind every artefact on the palace’s daily tour with a historian.
For more information or to book a stay at Taj Falaknuma Palace, click here.