As Indian palaces go, few can match the opulent grandeur of the Taj Falaknuma Palace in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad. Constructed in the late 19th-century at eye-watering cost (its owner went bankrupt), this hilltop folly is a fever-dream of Venetian chandeliers, Tuscan marble, camel-leather upholstery and a 101-seat dining table where visiting royalty supped. Today, mere mortals have the run of the 60 rooms and suites set in 13 hectares of perfumed gardens with free-ranging peacocks. Authentic Hyderabadi cuisine, antique-strewn interiors and a five-to-one staff-guest ratio ensure everyone gets the regal treatment.
Where is Taj Falaknuma?
Hyderabad today blends more than 400 years of history and architecture with its 21st-century role as an IT hub (it’s earned the nickname “Cyberabad”). Taj Falaknuma Palace, with commanding views of the region, is about a 30-minute drive from the airport and 15 minutes from the heart of the old city.
Of the 60 lodgings, more than two-thirds are “palace”-category rooms set over two levels around the jasmine-scented courtyard. Bath-times are a feature – staff can prepare at least half a dozen fragrant bathing options. There are also three Historical Suites rich in antiques and textiles with city-view terraces, eight Royal Suites in the former zenana (women’s quarters) and the grand Nizam Suite with its own pool, garden and personal butler.
Restaurants and bars
The finest kitchen in the palace is Adaa, which channels the history and traditions of royal Hyderabadi cuisine. Flavours, spicing and preparation are authentic, as in the kacchi biryani, a dish of cloud-soft rice layered with meat and spices and cooked overnight under a seal of dough. There’s all-day dining at Celeste, where the generous breakfast menu is a cross-cultural affair of continental standards alongside South Indian, Turkish and Hyderabadi favourites; dinners delve into Mediterranean classics. Afternoon tea – classic English, Indian-accented or champagne and chocolate – is served among the glittering prizes of the Jade Room and Terrace.
Travel for work
Being a palace, there are some exceptional event spaces, such as the Jade Room and Terrace, Durbar Hall and the Dining Hall with its 101-seat table, to suit the ritziest receptions. For more modest gatherings there’s a 17-seat boardroom with projectors, audio and videoconferencing – and French woodwork.
Spa and gym
The Jiva Spa offers an extensive choice of scrubs, wraps and Ayurvedic treatments, as well as the Nawab-e-Khas “the signature treatment of the royals”, involving a foot wash, exfoliation using rose petals, almonds and saffron, a facial scrub and a massage with hand-blended oils. There’s a banyan-shaded pool, yoga and meditation classes and a gym.
What you need to know
Being showered with perfumed rose petals on arrival is hard to beat.
Best for: Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
Number of rooms: 60 rooms and suites
Rates: From INR55,000 per night, plus taxes
Wi-Fi: Free and functional
Parking: Free valet parking at hotel entrance
Address: Engine Bowli, Fatima Nagar, Falaknuma, Hyderabad, India
Telephone: +91 40 6629 8585