In the late 17th and 18th centuries, a distinguished family in India was known for producing a lineage of men who served as generals and commanders in the Sikh army. But then, one hundred and thirty years ago, one family member broke with the long tradition of his ancestors; following the sudden death of his father, Sujan Singh decided to steer away from a martial career and forge a new path in the world of commerce. SUJAN Enterprises was founded, and after multi-generational forays in the trade, oil, cotton, real estate, and construction industries — with one family member, Sir Sobha Singh, playing an integral role in the infrastructure of New Delhi — the family name is now emblazoned upon one of the finest hotels in the world.
The Sujan Rajmahal Palace has a long and colourful history, its grand rooms having been presided over by royalty and elite political figures. According to Conde Nast, it was built in the 1720s for the Maharaja and went on to house Indian royalty for centuries. More recently, it has hosted Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, Lord and Lady Mountbatten, the Shah of Iran, and the icon of style herself, Jackie Onassis. As one of the oldest and most treasured palaces in Jaipur — or, as it’s commonly known, the “pink city” — the Rajmahal is a vestige of Indian heritage and culture.
In recent years, the Sujan hotel group has transformed this splendid oasis in the bustling city centre into a world-class, luxurious hotel with accommodations fit for — well, royalty, of course.
Interior designer Adil Ahmad was tasked with the recent restoration of the palace, the challenge being to resurrect, and perhaps even exceed, its former glory. He cites style and symmetry as being key design elements of this classic-meets-contemporary structure. Once a pleasure garden conceived for a beloved queen, the property passed through the hands of British officials under colonial rule, and today has been rightfully restored as the private residence of His Highness Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II of Jaipur. “Theirs was a family of unparalleled riches and power, indelible truths that mark the history of the Kachwaha clan, from the grand City Palace complex to the majestic Amber Fort and much more,” explains Ahmad. The hotel within the palace must reflect the complex history of that bloodline. “For me,” he says, “Rajmahal Palace epitomizes the power and sensibility of a ruling family that actively contributed and participated in the layered history of India. It is an extraordinary ‘home’ set in an extraordinary city that is a living museum without boundaries, embracing one and all, a celebration of a vibrant diversity. The painstakingly restored palace, a sparkling gem, embodies that ethos of Jaipur and its royal family, its glittering past and is now entering its gilded future.”
Extensively refurbished, each room and suite of the Rajmahal features wallpaper and fabrics that have been carefully designed by Ahmad. Each room is entirely unique, with details that pay homage to the vibrant city and its rulers; motifs include the buta, cypress, floral patterns, and geometric shapes, inspired by the stone carvings that adorn the forts, palaces, and havelis of India.
Much like the Ritz Hotel in Paris, the suites and rooms here have been named for the palace’s distinguished former guests. Each intricately decorated, maximalist interior features details honouring these famous figures. Accommodations include the Mountbatten Suite, the Queen Elizabeth II Suite, the Kennedy Suite (where Jackie infamously stayed for three months in 1962), the Prince of Wales Suite, and the Princess of Wales Suite.
And, of course, the distinguished hotel also honours its more local residents with the grandest rooms of all: the Ram Niwas (the Maharaja’s Apartment) and the Maharani’s Apartment.
Guests of the Rajmahal have several options when it comes to fine dining and cocktails. The Colonnade is a twenty-four-hour restaurant with views of the surrounding palace lawns and gardens. The menu here is comprised of freshly prepared comfort food.
51 Shades of Pink, a bright restaurant that celebrates the beloved nickname of Jaipur, is a popular breakfast spot; “morning lights floods into its mirrored spaces,” explains the hotel, making for a decadent, rosy first meal of the day.
The Orient Occident offers a more formal dining experience, serving up rarely-found traditional dishes of the Jaipur region.
The Polo Bar celebrates the royal family’s history of triumph on the polo field, its walls decorated with trophies and memorabilia.
Guests of the prestigious Rajmahal Palace can also make use of a beautiful art déco pool, spa, and curated experiences, including polo matches, private city palace tours, and more.
“Rest assured,” writes Mayfair Magazine, “you will be staying in a palace fit for a king!”