Brijrama Palace, Varanasi
Our rating: Premium | Property style: Boutique Hotel
Located on the banks of the Ganga River, the Brijrama Palace and the Darbanga Ghat are one of the oldest landmarks of the city. The palace was commissioned in 1812 and features the first ever lift in India and South Asia. The Brijrama experience starts before you arrive, as guests are escorted across the Ganges in a Bajra (a traditional, wooden, Indian boat) to arrive at the hotel. All 32 rooms are spacious and well-appointed with standard 5-star amenities. The building is truly a historical piece of work, with Maratha dynasty architecture and sandstone walls and pillars, resulting in a wonderful old-world feel. Maratha art and a signature, ancient betel leaf runner adorns the palace walls, ceilings and corners and 19th century, European-style furniture and original artworks can be found throughout. Bansari touches also elegantly decorate the rooms, such as traditional lamps and silk furnishings. This luxury heritage hotel also enjoys a spa and a plethora of dining options including a Maharaja style dining experience at the Chota Angan (small courtyard), a wonderful Banarasi menu at the vegetarian Darbhanga restaurant and hi-tea at the Kamalya Cafc with the Ganges as a backdrop. The hotel can also arrange for a river boat trip so that guests can dine to the sound of temple bells and chirping birds.
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