In Travel

The Royal Treatment: The World’s Riziest Palatial Stays

Why stay in any old hotel when you can check into a palace?

From converted manors to lavish royal residences and modern complexes adorned in gold leaf, these are the world’s most luxe palatial stays.

And forget the minibar – the amenities at these places take things up a notch with butlers, private entrances and even VIP beaches, making a stay at any of these palace hotels well worth the splurge.

Four Seasons Lion Palace, St. Petersburg

It’s hard to miss the grand entrance of Four Seasons Lion Palace, which, as the name suggests, is flanked by two marble lions. This 19th century palace was designed by French architect Auguste de Montferrand for Prince Lobanov-Rostovsk. The iconic canary yellow palace and its two lions were even immortalised in Alexander Pushkin’s poem, The Bronze Horseman.

It’s no wonder Pushkin felt so inspired: inside, the grand lobby is a celebration of Imperial Russia with high ceilings, granite columns and intricate plasterwork – it’s hard not feeling regal as you walk through.

After a vodka and caviar degustation in the Tea Room (when in Russia), the Lobanov Presidential Suite awaits. Its elegantly furnished living room complete with fireplace, as well as plush bedroom, marble bathroom, dining room and private terrace makes up a space fit for a tsar.

Mandarin Oriental, Lago di Como

palace hotels

Image: supplied

It’s not hard to see why George Clooney loves Lake Como so much – total seclusion, water views and laidback Italian living. In the Blevio commune, across the water from Villa Oleandra (AKA Clooney Manor), is Mandarin Oriental Lago di Como. The resort comprises 76 rooms and suites, a bar, restaurant and spa within a 19th-century complex formerly known as Villa Roccabruna.

The $10,500-a-night Villa del Lago is about as close to the Clooney lifestyle as it gets. The three-bedroom villa features a private garden overlooking Como, as well as a private lift, outdoor jacuzzi and dock – for the watercraft that you arrived on, of course.

Taj Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur

High on a hill overlooking the city is Umaid Bhawan Palace. Once upon a time, it was the largest private residence in the world and part of the complex still serves as a residence for the family of the late Maharaja Umaid Singh. The remainder of the palace complex is divided into a luxury resort and museum.

The resort takes full advantage of its royal Rajasthani backdrop – it’s not unusual to look out over your hotel room to see peacocks sauntering across the gardens.

You’re welcome to explore the palace at your leisure, but it’s definitely worth joining one of the daily tours to get a full history lesson. Afterwards, unwind with an ancient Indian healing massage at the on-site Jiva Grande Spa before a private dinner in Umaid Bhawan’s former quarters, the Maharaja Suite, which will set you back just under $8,000 a night.

Kempinski Emerald Palace, Dubai

Sitting on the sprawling man-made Palm Jumeirah is what could be considered one of the world’s newest palace hotels.

What it lacks in any history, Emerald Palace more than makes up for in decor: we’re talking an atrium handpainted in 24-carat gold leaf and a chandelier that shimmers with 40,000 Swarovski crystals. The custom-made furnishings and neoclassical decorations throughout the hotel certainly leave you feeling like you’re anywhere but the shores of the Arabian Gulf.

The $4,000-per-night Presidential Suites are impressive, but if you’re here for the full royal treatment, check into one of the Imperial Villas. At $18,000 a night, these villas offer complete beachside privacy, with four bedrooms, private spa, garden pool and a butler to heed your call 24 hours a day. Essentially, you never have to leave the villa, but if you’re itching to explore the hotel also boasts a private cinema, the Alain Ducasse restaurant offering, MIX, and a 500-metre-long beach.

Palais Coburg Hotel Residenz, Vienna

palace hotels

Image: supplied

In 1840 Prince Ferdinand ordered the construction of a palace on the site of Vienna’s former fort. Since then, Palais Coburg has stood in all its neoclassical splendour right in the heart of the city. Converted into all-suite hotel in 2003, Palais Coburg has lost none of its regal charm. The three Coburg Suites are top places to rest your head, decorated in antique furniture and with views across the hotel’s ‘secret’ garden.

Wine aficionados will love the official Palais Coburg Wine Archive, comprising some 60,000 bottles with some dating back four centuries. Might need to book in an extra night for a wine tasting session or two.

(Lead image: Four Seasons Lion Palace, St. Petersburg / Peter Vitale)

Published 31 May, 2019