Rooms Fit For Royalty

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Teja Lele Desai gives you a taste of Gujarati opulence through its heritage hotels

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I have a thing for heritage hotels. Five-stars, for all their swankiness, are old wine in an old bottle. Not so for heritage hotels. High ceilings, colonial furniture, stained glass, marble flooring, brass artefacts – all add up to create an enchanting ambience. For a while now, Rajasthan has had a monopoly when it comes to heritage hotels. Gujarat is now waking up, with more than 25 heritage hotels opening their doors to guests.

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01Taste of the old world

The cramped lanes teeming with traffic don’t prepare you for what you stumble upon: a 100-year-old pristine property set amid a small garden. The colonial facade, with Europeanstyle tiled roofs, springs a surprise: wooden jharokhas. Like all Neemrana properties, there’s stained glass and lovingly restored furniture. It has eight rooms, which include two suites.

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Tariff -Rs 4,500 onwards

Highlight-Book the Siraj Khana Suite, which has the traditional farshi baithak (floor seating). The hidden garden is great for some ‘me time’.

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02A study in pink

This pink hotel is a common sight in Gujarati films and television. Part of the seven-acre Vijayraj Palace complex built for Maharajah Vijay Singhji in 1915, this is European on the outside – with classical columns and turrets, and Venetian doors – and old-world on the inside.

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Tariff -Rs 1,250 onwards

Highlight-There is an in-house museum of trophies, mirrors and royal textiles.

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03Fruity favours

Named for its plantations of lime, chikoo and mango, Orchard Palace in Gondal, Rajkot district, was built in the 19th century as an addition to Huzoor Palace, the royal family residence, only to host personal guests. It is now a seven-room hotel with Art Deco furniture and antiques dating back to the 1930s. The Maharaja’s car collection makes for an interesting display.

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Tariff -Rs 5,000 onwards

Highlight-There is an organic garden; and the grounds have 80 peacocks. The Rail Saloon of the Gondal royal family has been converted into a suite.

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04Sand and splendour

A section of the beach estate of Mandvi has been converted into a luxury hotel. While the Vijay Vilas Palace is a blend of several architectural styles, the hotel also comprises 10 luxury tents, each with its own verandah, intricate furniture, old brica- brac and antique accessories.

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Tariff -Rs 7,500 onwards

Highlight-The grounds include 2 km of private beach and a private sanctuary.

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