On The Road

Where To Sleep Like A King In 2019

Common or garden not doing it for you? Book these royal retreats now

  • Royal Mansour, Marrakech. Photograph courtesy of the Royal Mansour Marrakech

“In the past, people were born royal. Nowadays, royalty comes from what you do,” said the late, great Mr Gianni Versace. As ever, he was on to something. Now, a handful of industrious hoteliers and hospitality groups are preserving and reopening some new and former noble abodes for the enjoyment of us commoners – albeit at a price. So, while most of us can’t live like a royal on a daily basis, at least we can holiday like one. The regal roll call reads thus.

01. For royally shy types

  • The Maharaja's Suite at the Suján Rajmahal Palace. Photograph courtesy of Suján Luxury

Suján Rajmahal Palace, Jaipur, India

Modern maximalists will delight in the more-is-more, candy-eyed mood of the Pink City’s Rajmahal Palace. Exquisitely refurbished and redesigned by society interior designer and friend to the royals Mr Adil Ahmed, every inch of this city retreat is Instagram-worthy. With only 14 lavishly appointed rooms, this former royal pleasure garden is also as exclusive as it gets. The current heir to the throne, the dashing 20-year-old Maharaja Padmanabh Singh, still stays there from time to time, entertaining his polo-playing friends in the palace’s expansive apartments.

Take tea… in the extraordinary 51 Shades Of Pink breakfast room, which takes its inspiration from a 1952 Vogue cover by Mr Norman Parkinson. Around the corner you can tickle the ivories of the white marble piano, a gift from the Queen (our queen, Elizabeth II), who stayed at the palace during her Indian tour in 1961.

Pass the time… If you’d like to take a piece of the palace home with you (no, not the bathrobe), be sure to swing by Good Earth boutique next door, where you’ll find a tasteful and affordable edit of Jaipur interior crafts, from pop-coloured Suzani cushions and embroidered quilts to boldly patterned crockery and sweet-smelling Ayurveda oils.

What to pack

  • TOM FORD Slim-Fit Suede Trucker Jacket

02. For luxury scholars

  • The lobby at The University Arms. Photograph by Mr Simon Brown, courtesy of The University Arms

The University Arms, Cambridge, UK

Turreted and handsome, The University Arms, situated on one corner of Parker’s Piece, was always something of a landmark. Opened in 1834 as the university town’s only hotel, it recently underwent an £80m refurbishment. The hotel’s architect, Mr John Simpson, is famed for his classical approach, which he has deployed during refurbisments of both Kensington and Buckingham Palaces in recent years. Inside, the decor is contemporary, the work of interior designer of the moment Mr Martin Brudnizki, who aimed to echo the style of the city’s colleges. He’s done particularly well in the 192 bedrooms, which have the air of a beautifully designed common room about them.

Take tea… as you recline in the claw-footed bathtub of one of the turreted bedrooms, which enjoy 180-degree views over Parker’s Piece and beyond.

Pass the time… in the historic hotel bar, known as Parker’s Tavern, where you can indulge in a cocktail (or five) and leaf through a book from the well-stocked library, curated by Mayfair bookseller Heywood Hill.

What to pack

  • J.M. Weston 180 The Moccasin Grained-Leather Loafers

03. For accidental Mr Wes Anderson-ists

  •  View from the library terrace at Amanbagh. Photograph courtesy of Aman

Amanbagh, Rajasthan, India

This exquisite traditional-meets-modern, pinky-hued compound, a five-hour drive south of New Delhi, offers a dose of serenity away from the smog and incessant horn honking of Rajasthan’s gateway city. A former hunting campsite for Maharaja Jai Singh, it now comprises 37 domed private villas (many with private pools) and a grand pavilion restaurant designed in quintessentially dramatic Moghul style. Surrounded by hills and temples, a guided stroll into nearby villages allows for more off-the-beaten-track-type interactions with locals, many of whom either work or whose relatives work in the resort (unlike a lot of destination hotels, Amanbagh prides itself on its local staffing and community spirit). Do nothing or do it all – there’s plenty to keep you regally occupied on a short stay, including a half-day Indian cookery class where you get to source your ingredients from the on-site kitchen garden and cook them in a traditional mud hut.

Take tea… on the pavilion after the Abhyanga massage, where two strong-armed therapists massage in unison. It’s basically a two-hour treatment rolled into one.

Pass the time… scouring nearby Sariska Tiger Reserve for big cats. Tip: your chances of seeing a tiger are higher when ground foliage is sparse during the months of March and April, so plan accordingly. While there are only about 18 tigers left in this 330sq mile park, there are also leopards, antelope, deer and lots of monkeys to keep you on the edge of your seat as you make your way around by Jeep. It’s peaceful, beautiful and well worth the trip.

What to pack

04. For forward planners

  • Exterior view of The Pendry Natirar. Photograph courtesy of Pendry Hotels

The Pendry Natirar, Somerset County, New Jersey, US

New Jersey isn’t the first place you think of when you ponder the word “royal”, but for the late King of Morocco, Hassan II, this quiet country estate just an hour’s drive from New York City offered up a very royal luxury indeed – peace and quiet. His former home (purchased because of its proximity to Princeton, where his sons were students) is due to reopen in early 2020 as a luxury retreat, offering a slice of unexpected Tudor-style opulence on the East Coast. With 66 bedrooms, a handful of exclusive residences, as well as a private sports club and extensive spa, it’s the ideal place to while away a weekend off from the bustle of New York.

Take tea… in the historic mansion’s grand room, now a lavish drawing room. Originally built as an estate home for wealthy heiress Ms Kate Macy Ladd and her husband, the property has handsome proportions that deserve to be lounged in.

Pass the time… on horseback and tour the mansion’s 400 acres of rolling hills. A sustainable estate farm supplies the Ninety Acres Restaurant & Cooking School.

What to pack

  • R.M.Williams Gardener Whole-Cut Leather Chelsea Boots

05. For modern-day Mr Ernest Hemingways

  • Royal Mansour, Marrakech. Photograph courtesy of the Royal Mansour Marrakech

Royal Mansour, Marrakech, Morocco

While this royally lavish retreat, right in the heart of Marrakech, isn’t, technically, a former royal household, it was commissioned by Morocco’s current King Mohammed VI to solve what he perceived to be a gap in the city’s luxury market. Now, “luxury” is a word used too often in the travel industry, but never has it found a truer home than within the walls of this hotel. Quietly and confidently opulent, all 53 of the villas are of palatial proportion with private patios and plunge pools, too. Each also has a personal butler and league of smiling staff. A network of subterranean passageways allows your “team” to appear and disappear in a flash, usually armed with a fragrant cooling towel. Disconcerting for some. Indulgent for others.

Take tea… in the main riad and ogle the utterly breathtaking attention to Moroccan design detail, from the creamy tadelakt surfaces and intricately carved rosewood doors to the meticulous tiled inlay floors. It took 1,200 craftsmen to complete this hotel, and boy, does it show.

Pass the time… at the Yves Saint Laurent Museum. The late designer found a muse in the Red City of Marrakech and this new museum is a noble tribute to his lifetime’s work.

What to pack

  • Gucci Horsebit Fringed Leather Sandals