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For representation purposes only  Shutterstock
Luxury

From Palaces To Havelis: 10 Hotels In India For A Royal Wedding

Nivedita Jayaram Pawar

For many, marrying in a palace or a fort is a childhood dream. A heritage venue with its ancient corridors and halls where kings and queens once walked, sweeping staircases and elegant interiors offer couples a wonderful opportunity to create memories and a slice of history on their special day. "When palaces were built many years ago, they were created with celebrations in mind. They were designed with large rooms, high ceilings, oversized courtyards, extreme grandeur and exquisite grounds, which make for the ultimate wedding celebration venue," says Ekta Saigal Lulla, founder and partner of Weddings by ESL.

Why choose a historic venue?

Forts, palaces and havelis often sit amongst naturally stunning settings that generally need minimal effort to make them look beautiful for a wedding. Grand entrances, majestic courtyards, and landscaped gardens also provide a wonderful setting for photo opportunities, ceremonies, games, or simply relaxing and soaking up the atmosphere.

A royal wedding venue isn't just limited to antiques, history and grandeur. Most venues come with beautiful pools, games room and spa that you can book for your wedding guests to enjoy. But the most compelling reason is the ease. Most palace hotels offer everything needed for the big day under one roof. You can hold fun mehendi and haldi ceremonies, exchange vows, throw lavish dinners, dance the night away and retire to your bridal suite, all in one place. No travelling between venues to disrupt the flow of the day. In addition, these spaces lend themselves very well to personalisation with colours, flowers and details chosen by you.

Tempted to take your own story to one of them? Here are 10 of the most incredible venues for a memorable royal wedding in India.

Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur

This unrivalled grand dame of palace hotels comes with splendid city views and the magnificent Mehrangarh Fort. Designed by renowned Edwardian architect Henry Lanchester in the fashionable Art Deco style of that time, the place was converted into a luxury hotel in 1997 and is now managed by IHCL. Guests will be wowed by the royal welcome of nagadas (ceremonial drums) and a rose petal shower. The fanfare continues with a ghoomar dance at the central dome and a champagne toast.

Amenities and Services

Elegant artworks, Makrana marble (the same used in the Taj Mahal) and exotic murals dot all the 347 rooms. The lush lawns make for a great venue for wedding rituals or a royal banquet. Additionally, there is a majestic neo-classical ballroom, a choice of lounges and a vintage car museum to keep your guests engaged.

Guest Capacity: Upto 700 guests

Ananta Shah, Co-Founder Of Dreamcatchers

"We were exploring various destinations for our wedding and were almost settled on Thailand, but then the pandemic hit. We had to shelve our overseas wedding plans and look for a property in India. Since my husband’s grandparents are from Varanasi, we chose BrijRama. With only 32 rooms, it was ideal for our intimate wedding. The best part is that it’s already so stunning that you don’t need to do much. Our décor was minimal, with flowers, diyas and a Pichwai painting our families bought for us. The varmala happened in the Bada Angan, a courtyard overlooked by other floors. Our guests placed on various floors showered flower petals on us. The haldi was on the Kamalya terrace, which was decked up with marigold. It felt like we were getting married in our own grand haveli."

Ananta Shah got married in 2020 at BrijRama Palace, Varanasi.

Chunda Palace, Udaipur

A staggeringly beautiful property has all the storybook nods you need with its carved mouldings, ornate glass work and miniature art. At the same time, it's brilliantly modern, boasting a fine dining restaurant for intimate candle-lit dinners, a well-stocked bar with vintage wines, spirits and cigars and a rooftop restaurant with views of Lake Pichola, Jagmandir and the City Palace.

Amenities and Services

Chunda Palace has 50 artfully designed rooms and multiple event venues, such as a beautiful courtyard, terraces, pool and banquets for haldi and mehendi functions. All the venues and the rooms are accessible by lift and wheelchair. You'll be spoilt for spots to stage your wedding pictures: the rooftop flooded with natural light or Mor Kaksh, a hall with exquisite Thikri work. This is not a place of packages: everything is created bespoke. Once the wedding frenzy cools down, guests can indulge in rifle shooting, horse riding and a game of polo.

Guest Capacity: 250 to 300 guests

The Belgadia Palace, Odisha

This 18th-century Victorian palace is the quintessential setting for an exclusive and intimate wedding. As you walk through the grand lobby, past the large bay windows, and up the monogrammed staircase, you'll note that there's history and elegance at every corner.

Amenities and Services

With just 11 guest rooms, this venue is ideal for a small and unbelievably photo-worthy affair. Say your vows in the Narayanhity suite, which used to be the personal room of the princess of Nepal, daughter of King Tribhuvan, followed by a dinner outside in the mango orchards or the beautifully manicured gardens. The palace also houses a billiards room, theatre, spa, pool, and museum.

Guest Capacity: 30 guests for stay-in, upto 700 for functions

Lalit Great Eastern Hotel, Kolkata

If you came to Calcutta, you had to stay at the Great Eastern, whether you were Mark Twain, Rudyard Kipling or Queen Elizabeth. That was the charm and fan following of this hotel built in 1840 by David Wilson. The marble corridors, carefully restored antique tubs and fittings and retro tapestry nod to the past, while the large televisions, JBL speaker systems, and floor-to-ceiling mirrors herald luxury. Interestingly, in 1883, the hotel was electrified and became the first hotel in India to have power.

Amenities and Services

Your guests are bound to feel like they've travelled back in time in the hotel's 215 luxurious rooms and suites. Those looking for an intimate setting will love the picturesque rooftop, while the grand ballroom is apt for a lavish affair such as a cocktail night.

Guest Capacity: 550 guests

Narendra Bhawan, Bikaner

With its enchanting history and memorabilia, this eclectic palace residence is ideal for a relaxed and fun wedding. The best part? The 82 unconventionally curated rooms, each with a slice of history.

Amenities and Services

Take your pick from multiple regal settings, each with its own unique character. The Diwali Chowk, dressed up with canopies, fruit trees and low Indian-style seating, is the most popular venue for pheras and fun sangeet nights. The infinity pool, with its vantage views of the city, is preferred for haldi, while the Gaushala at the entrance is an enchanting setting for welcome lunches and dinner parties. The hotel also has a spacious darbar hall, which is sought after for the mehendi function.

Guest Capacity: 150-200 guests

Brijrama Palace, Varanasi

This 210-year-old palace towering over the Ganges is one of the most spiritual settings to marry at. The glorious experience begins with a boat ride across the Ganges and then a ride in one of South Asia's first elevators to reach the hotel lobby. The 32 well-appointed rooms come with sweeping river views, original artworks from the 18th century, hand-painted frescoes, Thikri artwork and stunning antiques. Flute sessions and live classical dances regale guests every evening.

Amenities and Services

BrijRama has hosted numerous weddings for over a decade, and it shows both in the attention to detail and the flexibility that can be hard to find at some venues. There are 32 spacious rooms and suites and two restaurants with breathtaking views of the gently flowing Ganga. The palace also has numerous picturesque settings for the multiple events marking your big day. Udayan, a lovely terrace, is the perfect setting for the sangeet, whereas Kamalya, a smaller terrace, is suited for haldi. The artistically designed Bada Angan on the ground floor is ideal for the jaimala ceremony. The hotel also arranges for an early morning boat ride across the Ganges and the mesmerising evening Ganga aarti at Dashwamedh ghat.

Guest Capacity: 80 guests

Chittoor Kottaram, CGH Earth, Ernakulam

Nestled on the banks of the quaint backwaters of Kerala, Chittoor Kottaram is perfect for an intimate but luxurious wedding. The single-key mansion comes with loads of privacy, cosy rooms, and a personal service staff. The palace is awash with history, as it's the only palatial private space remaining with the Kochi Royal family. In the evenings, a sunset cruise on the backwaters will take you on a tour past idyllic villages snuggled amidst coconut groves.

Amenities and Services

While the mansion's master suite and two smaller bedrooms are just right for the bride and groom's convenience, guests can stay at CGH Earth's Brunton Boatyard, from where the boat can depart for the celebrations. A pool inspired by temple ponds and a spa are some of the other attractions. Food is the highlight here, ranging from local seafood to Syrian Christian specialities, vegetarian sadya on a banana leaf to international cuisines.

Guest Capacity: Upto 100 guests

Jehan Numa Palace, Bhopal

This 19th-century palace, with its arched walkways, sweeping columns and elaborate ornamentation, makes for a truly jaw-dropping wedding space. The grandeur continues into the interior of the 100 rooms with colonial furniture, ethnic furnishings and deep-soaking bathtubs that add to the charm.

Amenities and Services

Couples can kick off their life-journey in either one of the five banquets or the Queen's lawn overlooking the royal paddock. The fantastic food at this exquisite heritage hotel is a highlight, with centuries-old recipes from the begums' repertoire.

Guest capacity: 500 guests

The Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur

When it comes to a fairytale-like wedding in Rajasthan, the Oberoi Udaivilas is as classic as you can get, with an ample dose of glamour. With domes, courtyards, gentle rippling fountains, reflecting pools and verdant gardens, this iconic spot is one-of-a-kind. The best part? The multiple event spaces within the property make it easy for guests to migrate from one space to the next.

Amenities and Services

All the 87 guest rooms and suites are a study in contemporary-meets-traditional charm. Some feature private terraces, large marble bathrooms and private pools. Rajasthani hospitality, gourmet meals, and a luxurious spa add to the unforgettable experience.

Guest capacity: 200 to 250 guests

The Leela Kovalam, A Raviz hotel, Thiruvananthapuram

Those looking for a dreamy beach wedding should zero in on this property. Most rooms are dramatically perched at the edge of a rocky cliff and designed with rich art and vintage fabrics. This hotel takes detail-orientated to a whole new level, with umbrellas that magically appear on grey days, and a staff that remembers how you like your drink.

Amenities and Services

The hotel can host any size wedding party you care to imagine, with a giddying choice of spaces: the ballroom for a glitzy sangeet, the garden lawns for an intimate haldi or the beach side for memorable pheras. Even the century-old palace within the retreat is a perfect setting for a regal wedding.

Guest Capacity: 950 guests

Checklist For Planning A Wedding At A Heritage Resort by Ekta Saigal Lulla

  • Look for a property with a fairly good occupancy. Conduct a thorough recce before zeroing in on the venue.

  • Consider the venue's sensibilities and use its façade and historical background in your wedding.

  • Watch out for restrictions on alterations like taping, nailing, sound, music, fireworks, etc.

  • Connectivity matters. Ensure that the hotel you pick is easy to reach by air, rail or road.

  • Look for the convenience of elevators, wheelchairs or golf buggies.

  • Don't forget the weather. Make sure the temperature is not too high for your comfort.

  • Ensure to obtain all the necessary permits and licenses for photography or music, as well as liquor licenses.

  • Royal weddings don't necessarily have to be very formal. Dress up, dress down, keep it casual or pull out all the stops—it's upto you.

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