The World Travel Awards are often referred to as the Oscars of the travel industry. On 19 December, The Raj Palace hotel in Jaipur won the World’s Leading Heritage Hotel award beating competition from the likes of Raffles Hotel, Singapore; Hotel Ritz, Paris; The Ritz, London and Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur. “Not only is it the only Indian hotel to win the award, it is also the only hotel in the world to win three times in a row,” says Ankur Rara, general manager, The Raj Palace.
“It was originally built in 1727, a couple of years before Jaipur was built. The renovation of the palace and its conversion to a heritage hotel began in 1995,” says Rara. The Durbar Mahal Suite, part of the presidential suite of the hotel, won Asia’s Leading Suite award. The suite has been restored with gold leafed-painted walls and mirror work. The furniture is in gold and silver. The suite also has a private museum that displays the old throne and bolsters of the original builder of the palace, Thakur Mohan Singh, the ruler of Chaumoo. “We have had the first family of Indian politics, the Princess of Monaco, the royal families of Saudi Arabia among others as our guests in the presidential suite,” says Rara. One night at the suite will set you back by Rs7.5 lakh.
Golden facade: The 18th century palace is now fully renovated. Photo Courtesy The Raj Palace
The World Travel Awards, conceived in 1993, are given out on the basis of votes cast by travel professionals from 183,000 travel agencies, tour and transport companies and tourism organizations in more than 160 countries.