India has no shortage of luxury hotels to review – but only a select few fall into the super luxury category. The kind of place that takes your breath away – not just with its unrivalled beauty, but with the eye-watering price tag that naturally goes along with it.
At hotels like this, you can expect to drop hundreds of dollars a night for an entry-level room, though rates have generally fallen since Covid, and there’s definitely a window right now to book a once-in-a-lifetime stay that might not be affordable in “normal” times.
I’m talking about properties like Rambagh Palace in Jaipur, the majestic Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur and the sprawling Taj Falaknuma Palace in Hyderabad – which has even been called the only “seven-star” hotel in India.
On a recent trip to Hyderabad, I made time to visit Falaknuma Palace (though I didn’t get a chance to stay the night). After taking a high tea experience, I got an access-all-areas tour of the property, including parts of the hotel not normally accessible to non-residents.
In part 1 of this article I’m looking at one of the rooms at the hotel, dining and other amenities, while in part 2 I cover the palace tour and high tea experience at Gol Bungalow.
Read on to find out more about this very special property in the City of Nizams…
About Taj Falaknuma Palace
Taj Falaknuma Palace was built in 1894 and is spread over 32 acres, with 60 bedrooms and suites. There are three dining venues at the property and a Hookah Lounge, where you can take drinks.
The palace is located 2,000 feet above the city of Hyderabad, which makes the views even better from here. This used to be the residence of the Nizam – the ruler of the city of Hyderabad.
The palace has undergone restoration work, and Taj is operating the property after agreeing a lease with the original owners – the Nizam. The grandeur of this place, along with the priceless decor and the belongings of the palace have been kept in tact.
Nizam’s study, a 101-seat dining table, Jade room and queen’s bedroom are all part of the palace tour, which is open to non-resident guests (for a fee).
Note that non-resident guests are not allowed to do any photography inside the palace, though I was granted permission under special circumstances.
Arriving at Taj Falaknuma Palace
I decided to make a quick stop in Jubilee Hills before leaving for this marvellous property, and I took an Uber from there which took approximately half an hour.
After arriving at the main gate, which is the limit for outside cars, you are taken to the palace on either a golf cart or horse chariot (which comes at an extra cost). I was taken to the palace on a golf cart and, as I waited for my ride, I was asked to fill in a self declaration form with questions about Covid symptoms, etc.
Taj Falaknuma Palace Room with Garden View
The entry level rooms at the property are generously sized at 56 sq.m but will cost you at least INR 25,000 (USD 340) per night. It’s worth knowing that this property is bookable via Virtuoso, which will entitle you to a number of extra benefits, including a room upgrade, free breakfast, one free lunch or dinner, and early check in/ late check out.
While touring the property I was able to check out an entry-level Palace Room, which was spacious and had all the in-room amenities you would expect. The interiors looked stylish, and the furniture gave a real sense of luxury.
The bathroom had a separate shower area and a tub, which was surrounded by glass on three sides and exuded elegance.
Other amenities at Taj Falaknuma Palace
There’s an outdoor swimming pool with a beautiful backdrop of the palace building. It is surrounded by greenery and seemed like the perfect setting to sit back and relax after a nice swim.
I managed to catch the sunset at the lawns, which are not being given out for functions at the moment, due to Covid. The lawns are accessible by the resident guests, and I would have liked to come out here with my book and sandwiches and enjoy a mini-picnic.
The spa facility over here was quite big and has three spa suites, including a couple’s therapy room. Then there are other facilities like the Vishram room for relaxing, and the wet areas for taking a hot or cold shower.
The gym, even though not the largest, was well equipped and is open 24 hours for resident guests.
Dining at Taj Falaknuma Palace
There are three restaurants and a bar at the property. Celeste is a multicuisine restaurant, while Adaa specialises in Hyderabadi cuisine. Gol Bungalow is a unique dining destination and you can opt to have food here from either of the restaurant’s kitchens, this is where I received my high tea experience. Hookah Lounge is the bar at the property.
Barring a couple of things, the high tea experience at Gol Bungalow was really good, and I will be covering it in much detail in part 2.
The Hookah Lounge is part of the palace tour, but only the resident guests are permitted to use it (though I was granted permission to enjoy a drink and a snack at the bar).
During my visit, the bar was manned by young Pranav who provided a nice service, although I had to wait quite some time for my order as the bar was out of some of the ingredients required, and they had to be brought from the pantry.
Due to this delay, I spent more time at the lounge than I originally intended to. During this entire time, I witnessed two palace tours being carried out, and since Hookah Lounge is part of the tour, I began to feel like one of the museum exhibits myself!
This place was like no other I have seen – the elegance and beauty of the palace just left me speechless. The breathtaking views of the city from all sides of the palace are something that you wouldn’t want to miss – there’s a different feel when you see the views during the day, sunset and at night.
Expect to be blown away by the lavish lifestyle of the Nizam. This property does justice to the hefty price tag it carries.
Check out part 2 of this article to read about the palace tour and the high tea experience at Gol Bungalow, with a beautiful view of the city from the balcony…