In the early 1960s, Queen Elizabeth II and Jacqueline Kennedy both rested their heads here, at the former palace of the Jaipur royal family. Today, the newly restored Sujan Rajmahal Palace Hotel in Jaipur, part of Sujan Luxury Camps & Palaces, exudes a retro and regal mix of 1960s glamour – with Palm Springs fringing over into Jaipur.
1950s Ford Thunderbird | Katrina Holden
Creating the scene at the hotel’s entrance, set back from the main road is a parked white Ford Thunderbird with the red number plates ‘Jaipur’. The car was custom-made for the royal family in the 1950s and was only driven by the family. Men in musk pink-coloured turbans open the door, ushering me to the magnificent sitting room and lounge, where fuschia pink and peacock green velvet lounge chairs are surrounded by large and solid silver candle sticks, marble bowls of rose petals and large, gilt-framed artworks. The property was first built in 1821 as the official residence of the British Resident Political Officer of Rajputana. In 1958 His Highness Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II of Jaipur selected the home as his personal private residence.
If you like wallpaper, you are in for a treat – acclaimed Indian interior designer Adil Ahmad has featured no fewer than 37 styles of wallpaper throughout the hotel, with varying themes in the hotel’s 14 rooms that include the Queen Elizabeth II Suite; The Kennedy Suite; and the hotel’s grandest accommodation, the Maharaja Royal Apartment. The wallpaper sample that most captured my heart was the flamingo-pink moghul-themed wallpaper used in the 51 Shades of Pink Dining Room, designed as an homage to a famous Vogue magazine cover photographed by Norman Parkinson in 1952.
Tea in the Madho Niwas palace room | Katrina Holden
Walking throughout the hotel, there are beautiful art works, grand marble staircases, curved walkways with surprises at every turn, including a marble Collard & Collard grand piano. I enjoyed a dip in the hotel’s pool – afterwards showering under fresh hot water with clean towels underneath the pink turret where pigeons gathered. For the ultimate pre-dinner drink, settle yourself into the aqua upholstered chairs beneath the chandelier in the Polo Bar and choose from the extensive cocktail list – the signature Basil Martini is not to be missed. Afternoon tea on the green lawns with lily ponds and vintage wrought iron table settings with plush, pink velvet cushions is a highlight: or enjoy the lawns from the overlooking The Colonnade verandah, flanked with columns and decorated with teal-coloured equestrian-themed wallpaper as a nod to the strong polo culture in Jaipur.
I stayed in the Madho Niwas I Palace Room. The full-marble bathroom contained marble canister jars in the shower holding creamy and luxurious shampoo, conditioner and body wash, fragrant with Indian spice. I requested tea one morning to my room which arrived on a silver tray with a delicious selection of biscuits.
Try and stay at least two nights as there is so much to see and enjoy in the hotel itself, as well as exploring the nearby sites including the fascinating City Palace and old-town markets.
The library | Katrina Holden