This is a review of stay at taj Falaknuma Palace. Restaurants will be reviewed separately.
In a NUtshell:
Priceless experience that we would fondly remember forever – though pricier than some foreign trips, I would say it is worth saving up for months to go for it.
Address & other details: Taj Falaknuma Palace
Meal for 2:
Disclaimer: All restaurants / eateries reviewed by YUMMRAJ were visited by YUMMRAJ himself & he has paid for the full Bill & tips also. http://www.yummraj.com does not have even one featured / sponsored reviews.
We booked thru tajhotels.com and paid for hotel.
YUMMRAJ believes in going to a restaurant in anonymity, as a normal guest, experience everything & give a honest account of the same to you.
I rate all the food items & then give a final overall rating which is a simple average of the individual item ratings. What the ratings stand for: 5 = Excellent, 4 = Very Good, 3 = Good, 2 = Fair, 1 = Disaster
Years back when Falaknuma Palace was converted from a royal palace to a Taj hotel, I remember reading an article where a member of the royal family commented that the current restored version looks more beautiful than her memories of the place when the family left india immediately after independence.
I remembered it and always wanted to visit / stay here one day. So when I was thinking of a surprise gift for my partner on her birthday, a stay at Falaknuma came to mind. Checked out booking sites and chanced upon tajhotels online booking site. The site was pretty good and I booked a city view historical room.
As we reached the hotel, we were stopped at the palace gate and were requested to get off. Expected that a golf cart Wud pick us up from there. What came instead was a beautiful horse drawn 4 wheel coach with two people traditionally dressed operating it. The horses were beautiful dark brown , well built and nicely decorated. Lovely ride, totally unexpected.
As we reached the palace, a gentleman came up and welcomed us. He gave us some refreshing welcome drink and gave us a brief history of the place. He took us to the balcony from where one could see the city of hyderabad from a distance.
As we started walking into the palace, a traditionally dressed man preceded us with a staff in hand (similar to what was the tradition when nizam / his special guests would walk in).
As we walked up the staircase, someone invisible, showered rose petals from the top floor.
Once inside, we were handed over to our host for the stay, Mrinal. He offered to show us the room and said that they had upgraded us already. He also offered another further upgrade to begum suite at an additional amount and we opted for it.
Check in took hardly a minute and was done in the drawing room.
Mrinal told us that there was a palace tour at 5 and a qawalli performance at 6.15. He suggested that we skip the tour and he offered an exclusive tour later.
Qawalli session in the open courtyard garden was great and the troupe sang both traditional and few Bollywood songs. As we spoke to the singers after the show, we realized that they were from the famous musician community of Rajasthan – the manganiyars.
We explored numerous spots in the palace. Some cool ones from where one could get a view of the city lights were the Gol bungalow, a small terrace off the courtyard and a bar upstairs that faces the city.
The palace tour
The palace was built end of 1800s by the prime minister of the nizam by getting artists and architects from Europe. So unlike most of the other palaces in india, this palace is of European architecture.
The palace is built on a hillock and hence the city can be seen on all sides.
The verandah – colourful flooring that has stood the test of time, large ornate pillars, a view of the city on one side and a peep into the numerous rooms inside the palace…
The lobby was vividly colourful. It had beautiful coloured paintings on the ceiling by a French artist who was brought in.
In the center of the Floor was a circular marble seating area with a marble statue in the middle
Stunning ‘Coloured glass windows’ were a feast for the eyes.
This room opens to two important rooms – on the right, the office of the nizam and on the left, a meeting room.
The Nizam’s office is kept in a way as if he sits there every morning. An ink pot and a feather dip-ink pen were also there.
The other room had a historical sofa – the nizam and Dr. Rajendra prasad sat there after India’s independence and signed the papers that made hyderabad state a part of india.
The next hall is where the reception was placed on one side, below the staircase. The staircase to first floor is marvellous – a mammoth structure built on cantilever (no pillar support). The bottom side of the staircase and it’s landing was covered with carved polished wood. The staircase had marble statues holding light in their hands. Large portraits in oil paint adorned the walls. The floor tiles were impeccable.
On one side of this room was a specially designed musical instrument which might appear to be an Almirah from a distance and a mammoth grandfather clock from a lesser distance. Only when in front, I realized it was none. Mrinal told us that it was a specially designed music player designed by machine experts in Europe – it has a key (like old clocks), which when done to the full, the instrument could play music for 1 hour based on pure mechanical machinery. The nizam had ordered this to ensure that ‘the party must never stop’.
Beyond this room was the library – it had books from Nizam’s time. Residents could get books ‘issued’ to them. Among many books, a book that they mentioned was a First account of survivor of the titanic.
On one side of the library was the gossip room – ladies used to come and sit here in the evening ….
Queen’s bedroom had an exquisite wood carved bed and a beautiful teak wood Almirah.
The bathroom had a bathtub with hot and cold water , shower and also steam bath!!!
The wooden screen with coloured glass was beautiful
As we walked out of this building, we reached the massive courtyard with rooms all around it.
On the other end of the courtyard was GOL bungalow that had a stunning balcony.
European Restaurant Celeste and Indian restaurant adaa were also located here.
The coolest spot was the balcony of the gol bungalow
On 1st floor had a stunning guest room with an attached long balcony.
A ballroom where nizam and begum used to host the guests is located next.
The memorable part of the palace is the dining room with a super long table and 101 chairs around it. 101 butlers Wud serve the royal guests. The tradition is still followed by the hotel – the same can be booked by individuals for special occasions.
During the 2 day stay we interacted with a lot of people. I was amazed to see the general quality standard of people. There were goof ups but people were blatantly honest about the reasons and apologised and more than made up ( without us asking for that).
On the way out, Mrinal requested us to go to the Nizam’s office. He took out a feedback book, asked us to write a feedback and describe the experience. Till this was nothing unique. What was unique was that I was asked to sit on the Nizam’s chair and write on the feedback book on Nizam’s table and finally sign the same with a pen from that era – dip in ink and write , the ones with bird feather!!!
Every person we came across treated us like an important guest of the nawab. The gentleman helping us, Mrinal, was Quick in responding any time we pinged him. 100% problem solving approach. The guys also know how to delight , not once, but consistently. At times when we would wander around, the staff members ( from cleaner to managers) offered to click us on our camera.
We were offered traditional designer dresses to get photographed at different parts of the hotel. A gentleman patiently spent 45 minutes at different spots in the palace for the same. Created memories of an unparalleled memory.
We were dropped to the airport in a nice jaguar car….
2 things that cud hv been better, for the price that one pays per night – a twin blade Gillette is given in hotel room shaving kit (I guess most people who stay here r used to 3 or 5 blade and hence might cut their face) – I did. A very ordinary (not related to luxury by a long distance) tea maker was kept at the room, with plastic fittings (does not even feel good, leave apart side effects of plastic and heat).
You pay a high price (I guess it is in top 5 hotel room rents india) but the experience is priceless. The stay was like a dream. It created memories of a lifetime.
There r many expensive properties and money can buy them. However to run the property with such balance of warmth and professionalism is not too common.
YUMMRAJ’s Tip – to njoy the experience, go in small groups , keep away from phone and internet as much as possible, keep away distractions and just njoy the experience full on …….. worth saving up for it (if need be).