From Australia to Africa and beyond, we have picked the world’s most beautiful palace and castle hotels for your regal sojourn. Choose
from erstwhile royal residences and new-age palaces, all promising a luxuriously memorable holiday.
BY SHIBANI BAWA
THORNGROVE MANOR HOTEL, AUSTRALIA
Set in the charming town of Stirling, this beautiful castle-style hotel
sits within a vineyard in South Australia’s oldest wine producing region. Although built as recently as 1994, the Thorngrove Manor Hotel has gathered much acclaim and awards for excellence in their hospitality services in this short period. Presenting an enchanting, romantic ambience, the property provides a picturesque, intimate setting to its guests. Spiral staircases and private, gated entryways ensure that residents do not cross paths with others, lending it an indulgently exclusive appeal.
The interiors are as fascinating as the fairy-tale façade of the building, with rooms such as King’s Chambers and Queen’s Chambers laden with antiques, including French clocks, German pianos, gilded mirrors, Scottish stained-glass windows, oak four-poster beds, and more. Sweeping views of the lush, surrounding countryside add to the mesmerising feel. Tip: The Ultimate Private Afternoon Tea, served picnicstyle, is especially designed for couples. The scene is set with crystal glasses, fine china, tweed blankets, and baskets containing goodies such as smoked salmon, handmade pâté, cheeses from nearby farms, and fresh fruit straight from orchards. thorngrove.com.au
Fly to Adelaide with Vistara’s codeshare partner Singapore Airlines and interline partner Cathay Pacific.
INVERLOCHY CASTLE HOTEL, SCOTLAND
Built in 1863 as a private residence, this property’s plush interiors and gorgeous outdoors, including a personal loch on the castle grounds, were inviting enough for Queen Victoria to spend a week here in 1873. The scenic and serene surroundings of the foothills of the mighty Ben Nevis Mountain, just a couple of miles away from Fort William, inspired her to sketch and paint. And so mesmerised was she by these surreal, verdant environs that they prompted her to pen this famous quote in her diary about Inverlochy: “I never saw a lovelier or more romantic spot.” Each of the 17 gorgeous, regally appointed rooms, including three suites, have been designed with a unique aesthetic, featuring opulent fittings, such as Venetian chandeliers, fine antiques, rich silks, and brocades.
Airport transfers in a Rolls Royce, Michelin-star meals comprising Scottish blue lobster and wild salmon, lavish high-tea spreads, and special tasting sessions of the finest malts from all over Scotland are just a few of the luxurious experiences that guests can savour at this resplendent palace hotel.
Tip: The hotel offers several outdoor activities, including hiking, skiing, and whitewater rafting. There are also options to go mountain biking through the forests. For a taste of some royal sports, try clay pigeon shooting; all required equipment will be provided. inverlochycastlehotel.com
Fly to Inverness with Vistara’s codeshare partner British Airways and interline partner KLM.
UMAID BHAWAN PALACE, INDIA
From a distance, the stunning Umaid Bhawan Palace resembles a sandcastle emerging from the golden dunes of Jodhpur. Up close,
it’s an imposing Art Deco structure, built between 1928 and 1943 for Maharaja Umaid Singh Ji. Even though a major part of Umaid Bhawan is a luxury hotel, the royal family still lives here, in their private section. Regal splendour expresses itself in every aspect of this grand palace, with its domed ceilings and stone-carved pillars, and even extending itself to the guests as soon as they step into the magnificent environs. The red-carpet welcome with ceremonial drums, rose petals, and a glass of champagne under the 105-foot cupola is truly fit for a king
The 26-acre verdant gardens with dancing peacocks are picture perfect, while the Zodiac Pool offers an ideal romantic setting. And from the private balcony of the Royal Suite, guests can view the imposing Mehrangarh Fort in all its glory. A truly royal experience
like none other!
Tip: Guests checking in for a stay get complimentary access to the heritage palace museum and palace tours, an elaborate high tea,
and evening cultural performances. A visit to the Maharaja’s private Marwar horse stable and an exciting tour of his collection of vintage cars are hugely popular, too, for their versatile range.
Nearest Vistara-serviced airport: Vistara offers daily flights to Udaipur from Delhi and Mumbai.
THORNEWOOD CASTLE, USA
Yes. There is a castle in the USA, too! One of the very few genuine
regal properties in the country, this English Tudor Gothic castle,
set in Washington State, was built piece-by-piece almost a century
ago, with pieces from a 400-year-old English castle that were shipped to the USA. Despite its building blocks arriving from another continent,
it has a rich history of its own; it has played host to Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft on separate occasions. Set amid four acres of greenery, surrounded by fir trees, and overlooking the scenic American lake, the charming mansion features a ‘secret’ sunken English garden and a private beach.
The cosy, intimate setting makes it ideal for weddings and romantic getaways. And if the castle looks familiar, it’s because it has featured
in various movies, such as Stephen King’s Rose Red, Ridley Pearson’s The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer, and Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood, among others. The sunset view over the lake is a special not-to-be-missed highlight here.
Tip: The hotel organises professional photo shoots in its exquisitely lovely outdoor and indoor spaces. Booking one is the best way to
mark a special moment and seal memories of a royal stay. thornewoodcastle.com
Fly to Seattle with Vistara’s codeshare partners Air Canada, British Airways, and Japan Airlines.
ROYAL MANSOUR, MOROCCO
A stone’s throw from Marrakesh’s bustling medina, the Royal Mansour is a luxurious hotel owned by the King of Morocco. Built by over 1,500 local artisans, this palace showcases the finest Moroccan craftsmanship and is home to more than 550 paintings flaunting the works of contemporary Moroccan artists. In keeping with traditional and indigenous architecture, Royal Mansour offers 53 riads (traditional cottages) instead of rooms, each connected by shrub-lined pathways and winding alleys—all in a serene setting amidst four acres of charming gardens and several courtyards. The enchanting décor, marked by rich tapestry, glittering lanterns, and intricate carvings, adds to the ‘timeless’ ambience of the property.
The luxurious, multi-storeyed cottages feature interior courtyards, sitting rooms, and bar, while some even have a private dining room. The bedrooms, located on the first floor of each riad, offer breathtaking views of the Atlas Mountains. Guests can even relish the privacy of an exclusive roof terrace, with a plunge pool, fireplace, and tented space for secluded hammam treatments. The experience of this magical setting is enhanced by a private butler service. Here is simple, refined decadence at its best!
Tip: The Spa Royal Mansour offers a unique ‘Rebalance’ programme for three to five days. Ideal to reset and rejuvenate, the holistic routine includes restorative treatments, traditional Takhlita hair wraps and signature hammam, private sport lessons, and Tibetan singing bowls therapy. royalmansour.com
Fly to Marrakesh with Vistara’s codeshare partners British Airways and Swiss, and Interline partners Air France, Arkia, and EL AL.
BADRUTT’S PALACE, SWITZERLAND
Here is luxury at its finest. Located in the gorgeous winter haven that is St. Moritz, this sophisticated, family-owned palace was transformed into a hotel in 1896 by Caspar Badrutt. And over the last 126 years, the fairy-tale castle has evolved into one of the most exclusive, luxe properties in the world. Featuring 157 elegantly appointed rooms and suites with stunning vistas of the snow-covered or verdant slopes (depending on the season), the grand hotel has nine restaurants and three Dolphins sail through the air at a show at the Sea World theme park, Sea World Resort, Gold Coast, Australia. bars, catering to their fashionable clientele, many of which include the rich and famous.
It’s also home to Switzerland’s oldest nightclub, King’s Social House, the place to be with its amazing DJs and eclectic array of cocktails.
Few experiences, however, can match the hotel’s special horse-drawn carriage ride through the snow-covered Engadin Valley, over frozen Lake St. Moritz, as guests wrap themselves in soft blankets and warm skins—sheer bliss!
Tip: A winter wonderland, St. Moritz attracts ski enthusiasts from all over the world. Besides skiing, other must-try winter activities include skijoring (skiing or snowboarding while being pulled by a horse) and ice stock, a sport similar to curling. badruttspalace.com
Nearest Vistara-serviced airport: Fly to Zurich with Vistara’s codeshare partners British Airways, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, and Swiss.
JUMEIRAH AL QASR, DUBAI
The magic of Arabian Nights comes to life at Jumeirah Al Qasr! Magnificent sculptures of Arabian horses, grand staircases, Moroccan fountains, Swarovski crystal chandeliers, and cool-blue Azul Bahia granite from Brazil are some of the treasures that adorn this new-age palace. The larger-than-life setting is made more surreal by the fact that this beautiful hotel is located within 40 hectares of landscaped gardens in a desert! To top it all, a waterway traverses the property, offering traditional abra rides (cruises) within Madinat Jumeirah (a luxurious mini city of which Jumeirah Al Qasr is one part).
The majestic backdrop to all this splendour is the iconic Burj Al Arab Hotel. Ideal for families, the hotel offers several in-house activities, including camel rides on the golden beach, life-size games of snakes and ladders, and a sprawling kids area fitted with a Lego room. Savour authentic Lebanese fare at Al Nafoorah or indulge in Italian delicacies at the award-winning Pierchic, with views of the Persian Gulf. Perfect for a family holiday.
Tip: A booking here includes free entry to the Wild Wadi Waterpark, and an unlimited number of visits to explore more than 30 thrilling rides at the complex.
Vistara offers daily direct flights between Dubai and Mumbai.