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India does a good line in royal palaces converted into opulent hotels, and they don’t get more amazing than the Taj Falaknuma Palace.
Originally the residence of the fabulously wealthy Nizams - the royal family of Hyderabad - the palace underwent a ten-year restoration overseen by the royal family themselves and completed in 2010, making this far and away the best place to stay in Hyderabad.
Correction - when we say in Hyderabad we should really say over the city, because the Taj Falaknuma Palace sits 2,000ft above Hyderabad, looking down imperiously on the city below, a view that can be enjoyed from the gardens (all three of them) and many of the 60 rooms and suites. All the elegant rooms are filled with paintings, Italian marble, valances and vintage furniture to make guests feel regally right at home.
Away from the bedrooms the opulence continues to come thick and fast in the form of collections of rare books and manuscripts, objets d'art and vast Venetian chandeliers, all housed within a building that fuses Tudor and Italian architecture and that's designed in the shape of a scorpion.
When not exploring the hidden gem of Hyderabad, guests can lounge by the pool, wander the Mughal, Rajasthani or Japanese-style gardens, indulge in rejuvenating spa treatments at the spa or learn more about the staggering interiors on a guided tour to see a library that's a replica of the one at Windsor Castle, a bespoke billiard table whose twin resides at Buckingham Palace and the vast dining hall where a mere 100 guests once ate at one ginormous table.
On the subject of dining, the hotel's Indian cooking is excellent, offering dishes created from recipes adapted from the Royal Kitchen, including the famous Hyderabadi biriyani and delectable kebabs. Guests can choose to eat in the main restaurant, enjoy a barbecue in the Rajasthani gardens or a six course meal accompanied by sufi musicians and traditional dancers, have a romantic dinner on the Royal Terrace overlooking the city or dine in a number of other private spots around the palace.
Falak-numa means 'like the sky' in Urdu - an appropriate name for a palace that seemingly sits on a higher plane and looks down at night on to the twinkling lights of Hyderabad far below.
Frances, Original Traveller