Palace In The Sky
The Indian city of Hyderabad—also known as Cyberabad—has staked its fortune on 21st-century technology: It’s one of the country’s biggest IT hubs. But 2,000 feet above its bustling streets, the newly opened Taj Falaknuma Palace hotel is offering travelers an ultraluxe taste of the past. Built over a span of 10 years, starting in 1883, the scorpion-shaped Tudor-Italianate masterpiece served as a guesthouse for the Nizam dynasty, which ruled the region from 1724 to 1948. Eleven years ago Taj Hotels leased the property from the royal family, and after a decade-long restoration, the palace opened to the public in October.
Falaknuma’s 46 rooms and 14 suites are appropriately regal, done up with antique furniture, Turkish carpets, embroidered silk draperies, and Italian marble baths. But it is in the hotel’s common spaces that the atmosphere of old-school glamour truly clicks into overdrive, with carved mahogany ceilings, Venetian chandeliers, and burbling indoor fountains. Guests are welcome to laze about the study—where, in the early 1900s, the Seventh Nizam used one of the world’s largest diamonds as a paperweight—and read in the library, which was inspired by Windsor Castle’s and is stocked with more than 5,900 volumes. The hotel’s banquet facilities are housed in the Nizam’s dining room, distinguished by a teakwood table that seats 101.
If you’re in search of cool understatement—the subcontinent’s answer to, say, André Balazs—best book elsewhere. But such past guests as King George V, Queen Mary, and Czar Nicholas II would surely approve (91.40.2438.8888, tajhotels.com).