India has a rich culture & history, dominated by Kings & Emperors, who built dynasties a part of which were its, Palaces & Forts. Over the Years, many of them have been converted into Luxury Hotels and witness Global High End Travellers. In this Journey, we cover some of the most dignified Whisky Experiences, hosted at the finest “Royal Bars” in India. Some are Original Palaces and some inspired by them, though all are amongst the best Hotel Bars in the World. The first one is the recently acclaimed Umaid Bhawan Palace.
Let`s start the journey with a Royal Dram..
Trophy Bar, Udaipur
Umaid Bhawan Palace is one of the world’s largest private residences, home to the royal family of Jodhpur. Creation of this edifice started in 1928 and was completed 15 years later in 1943 with 347 breathtaking rooms which were erected over a space of 26 acres out of which 15 acres were occupied by lush green gardens.
The Palace oozes grandeur and has been welcoming its prosperous clientele since 1971, when it opened its doors to invite people to experience its scenic beauty. The Palace is divided into three functional parts – The Palace, Hotel & Museum. The hotel which consists of 64 luxurious rooms and is run by The Taj Group of Hotels.
Upon entering the polished black granite floor of the lobby, one is left spellbound in its exuberance. The most distinctive feature of the Palace is its 105 ft high Cupola which has drawn inspiration from the Renaissance. Rajput heritage has also been delicately inculcated in the design which has been done by the architect, Henry Vaughan Lanchester.
The Trophy Bar at the Umaid Bhawan Palace gets one face to face with royalty with the pink sandstone & marble floors, surrounded by exquisite artifacts like Tiger skin cushions, gazelles, bears, large wild boar tusks, binoculars and a collection of fishing gear. The couches are capable of engulfing a person in its velvet like softness. What is truly overwhelming is when a butler walks in with a ‘safa’ on his head & a dram of Johnnie Walker King George V, in a Baccarat Crystal Old Fashioned Glass to offer you, whilst you absorb this dream like reality by pinching yourself.
The Trophy Bar consists of a selection of aperitifs, whiskeys, cognacs, tequilas, liqueurs, martinis and Bellini’s, as well as Cuban cigars other than an original 6-foot elephant tusk, which was hunted way back in 1927.
A truly Maharaja like experience and lifelong memories are the two things what the No. 1 Hotel in the World leaves one with.
Rajwada Bar at The Oberoi Rajvilas, Jaipur:
Designed in a colonial style, Rajwada Library Bar, literally meaning royal residence, is a Library Bar offering an intimate setting to relax and unwind. It is decorated with colonial memorabilia, hung with lithographs of ancient Maharajas and filled with polished wooden dressers holding leather bound classics. Dominated by a white, Italian marble fireplace with fitted, leather, corner stools, dark wooden dressers laden with leather bound classics, rich suede ottoman and black leather chairs sit on its dramatic Burmese teak floor.
Rajwada has an extensive collection of rare books on history and literature, old manuscripts, books on poetry and various coffee table books including on arts and crafts of Rajasthan. The library has a classic collection of books on History of Europe, History of India and French revolution, along with books on Royal India, costumes, and Indian textile and architecture. Rare series – Dictionary of Music and Musicians, international library of famous literature, various volumes of Encyclopaedia Britannica and series on second World War can also be found at the Library Bar.
Guests can enjoy a fine selection of cigars, wines, rare single malts, cognacs and contemporary as well as traditional cocktails as they leaf through books on various topics, or challenge friends to a game of chess, or backgammon.
Twice a week, acclaimed Historian – Ranbir Sinh conducts an interactive session on the adventurous exploits of the Rajput dynasty, the splendours of the Mughal era, the British Raj and events leading to the Independence of India. With an intimate setting, collection of rare books on history and literature, old manuscripts and board games, Rajwada Library Bar is the perfect place to relax and unwind.
Hookah Lounge, Taj Falaknuma Palace, Hyderabad
‘Mirror of the sky’ is the literal meaning a Palace in Hyderabad spread over an area of 32 acres that took 10 years to build & 22 years to perfect. Taj Falaknuma Palace, designed by British architect William Mard Marret, is a rare blend of Italian and Tudor architecture.
The Palace has been home to Sir Vicar-Ul-Umra, PM of the State of Hyderabad, Nizam Mehboob Ali Pasha and Mir Osman Ali Khan Bahadur. It fell silent after the 1950s. Since 1995, The Taj Group of Hotels has sensitively restored the Palace to accommodate the privileged in 60 glamorous rooms and suites.
The luscious Hookah Lounge, with an eternal fragrance of jasmine, mood lighting, instrumental music, sumptuous upholstery, is reminiscent of an era when smoking was an art in itself.
As you enter, you see a wide selection of flavoured Hookahs, served from beautifully handcrafted apparatus. The bar is lined with the finest rare whiskies, hand picked single malts, along with premium cognac.
This place submerges one in the nostalgic allure of Nizam’s lavish hospitality.
The Peacock Bar, ITC Grand Bharat, Haryana
Set amidst a vast expanse of 296 acres, ITC Grand Bharat is an epitome of “Modern Style Palace”. Launched in 2015, the architecture & detailing of this stupendous structure is such, that the moment you set foot in this property, it would take you a 100 years back to an era of royalty.
This is an all-suites luxury property with 104 suites out of which 4 are Presidential Villas & a 27-hole Golf Course designed by the renowned ‘Golden Bear’ Jack Nicklaus.
The Palatial feel of the Peacock Bar makes time stop when jazz echoes in the ears and the vivid blue of the chandeliers & chairs block the eyes. The Mixologist delivers his Signature Cocktail in a stained glass with peacock motif, inspired by the fables of India, like a ball of fire whose theatrics will leave you enchanted. The cocktail is a Cigar Smoked Old Fashioned Chivas Regal 12 Year Old stirred with sweet orange bitters in an Absinthe rinsed glass which leaves a smooth & balanced mouth feel.
ITC Hotels calls this magnificent structure an Oasis of unhurried luxury which it truly is!
Polo Bar, Rambagh Palace, Jaipur
‘The Jewel of Jaipur’, Rambagh Palace built in 1835, has stepped gracefully through many royal transitions—from the home of the queen’s favourite handmaiden, to royal guesthouse and hunting lodge, and later as the residence of the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II and his queen, Maharani Gayatri Devi.
Today, this jewel in the Taj’s crown offers 78 stunningly restored grand luxury rooms and suites which were the chambers of the former Maharaja. Over the years, it has played gracious host to several illustrious guests, such as Lord Louis Mountbatten, Prince Charles and Jacqueline Kennedy.
Rambagh Palace is home to the legendary Polo Bar. The glamour of the princely sport is masterfully captured in every little detail at the royal Polo Bar which is adorned with trophies & memorabilia of yore. The shelves are lined with the finest rare whiskies, signature cocktails inspired by the sport, single malts, cognacs, wines and liqueurs, underlined by a hand-picked selection of Cuban cigars. This is the ideal opulent venue to unwind & soak in some royalty.
Amrit Sagar, Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur
The Palace which became world renowned when the James Bond film ‘Octopussy’ was filmed at, was once the lair of the young prince, Maharana Jagat Singh II of Udaipur. After Maharana Jagat Singh II of Udaipur, was caught frolicking at moonlight picnics with ladies of the ‘zenana (the private chambers of the court)’, he built his own pleasure palace on Lake Pichola in 1746. The Maharana called this palace Jag Niwas.
This heritage hotel has 66 luxurious rooms and 17 grand suites. Its location on an island in the midst of a lake affords every room breathtaking views of the neighbouring City Palace, Aravalli Hills, Machla Magra Hills and Jag Mandir.
The incomparable location provides the perfect backdrop for the exquisite Bar, Amrit Sagar. The name aptly translates to ‘sea of nectar’.
This earthy bar is well renowned for its signature martinis, a selection of vintage wines, premium spirits, smoky single malts, cognacs and cigars which can be relished with sumptuous kebabs, brochettes and antipasti.
Isn’t a 40 YO single malt in a well cultivated bar in a palace in the middle of lake a thing fairytales are made of? Ay, ay!
The Bar at The Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra
The Monument of love has an uninterrupted view over the glowing embers of a 21 YO Single Malt. The Bar, located at the lobby level of The Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra is the only bar in the world which has a direct and uninterrupted view of the splendid Taj Mahal, where the ambience takes you back in time to the grandeur of the Mughal reign. The highlight of the Bar is a selection of Single Malts & Cigars. Indoors, soft Indian instrumental music forms a suitable background to lively conversation, while the bar terrace is an ideal location for an enjoying an evening cup of tea or a post meal drink or cigar while gazing at the monument. The signature cocktails, the Mumtaz and the Blue Mughal, pay tribute to the history of the Taj.
The outdoor terrace area, as well as the Tea lounge at the opposite end of the lobby, offer similar views and act as extensions of the Bar, providing different seating arrangements to complement the various moods of our guests.
The Bar at The Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur
Opulence, Luxury & Fine whiskies.
The Bar at The Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur is located at the lobby level and is spread across an almost labyrinthine layout of interconnecting domes, naturally lit during the daytime and sparkling under glass lamps at night. An intricate geometric pattern of green and white marble, sandstone and black granite ornaments the floor, while the antique finish bar is framed by an intricate Mewar arch.
Luxurious seating arrangements offering uninterrupted views of the Lake Pichola and gardens featuring a sumptuous space for guests to savour a gin, martini, margarita or frozen cocktail. Light snacks are served as part of the menu.