Five Best: Palace hotels
Live like a king in the world's most palatial hotels, where luxury comes as standard
Saturday 25 September 2004
Lapa Palace, Portugal
Lapa Palace, Portugal
Lisbon's Lapa Palace dates back to 1870, although it wasn't until 1883 that its lavish interior was commissioned. The Count of Valencas employed renowned local artists and ceramists to adorn this sugary pink confection above the Tagus river. Columbano Bordalo Pinheiro painted contemporary scenes featuring Lisbon high society on the walls and ceilings while his brother, Rafael, added unique pieces of furniture and decorative tiles. The palace was converted into a hotel in 1992; rooms offer panoramic views of the city or the hotel gardens.
Lapa Palace, Rua do Pau de Bandiera, 4-1249-021, Lisbon, Portugal (00 351 21 394 9494; www.orient-expresshotels.com). Doubles from €325 (£251) including breakfast Lucy Gillmore
Schlosshotel Kronberg, Germany
Designed by Empress Frederick, the widow of Emperor Frederick III and daughter of Queen Victoria, Friedrichshof, the Schlosshotel Kronberg, comprises 51 rooms and seven suites. The palace was conceived with the Emperor in mind, in the same way that her mother commissioned buildings in memory of Prince Albert. Empress Frederick took comfort from the palace's English-style gardens and sizeable library, and died at Friedrichshof in 1901. Today the building is one of the Leading Hotels of the World and retains most of its original features, including tiled floors, stone staircases, antiques and paintings commissioned by the Empress. Its bedrooms also contain her personal furniture.
Schlosshotel Kronberg (00 49 617 370101; www.schlosshotel-kronberg.de), Hainstrasse 25, Kronberg, Germany. Doubles from €245 (£175), room only Sophie Lam
Ciragan Palace, Turkey
One of the last residences of Sultan Murat V of the Ottoman Empire, who was held prisoner here between 1876 and 1904, the palace has been both a royal summer residence and has housed the Turkish parliament. The palace was rebuilt several times by resident sultans between the 16th century and its final refurbishment in 1910, when it was restored after a fire. Today, guests can enjoy sumptuous interiors with accommodation divided between suites in the original palace and modern rooms in the adjacent hotel. Renovations to the palace have been sympathetic and feature intricate mosaic ceilings in the banqueting room, chandeliers and Turkish rugs in the foyer. The luxurious Sultan Suite boasts floor to ceiling windows overlooking the Bosphorus.
The Ciragan Palace Hotel, (00 90 212 326 4646; www.ciragan-palace.com), Ciragan Caddesi 32 Besiktas, Istanbul, Turkey. Doubles from $453 (£266) including breakfast SL
Rambagh Palace, India
The Rambagh Palace was built in 1835 as a hunting lodge and converted into a palace in 1925 by the Maharaja Jai Singh of Jaipur, who used it as his summer residence. His widow, the Rajmata Gayatri Devi, still lives in one of its wings. The palace became a hotel in 1957 and today guests can delight in its regal four-poster beds, walk-in wardrobes and opulent marble bathrooms. The Maharaja's bedroom is now the royal suite overlooking the gardens. Butlers breeze through the palace dressed in traditional Jaipur Shermanis, while elephant polo takes place regularly on the palace's polo fields, with the Maharaja's trophies adorning the cabinets of the hotel's Polo Bar. The original Renaissance-style banquet hall, the Suvarna Mahal, is now the Rambagh's dining room.
The Rambagh Palace, Bhawani Singh Road, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India (00 91 141 2211 919; www.tajhotels.com). Doubles from $346 (£204) room only SL
Palazzo Arzaga, Italy
Deep in the Lombardy countryside, between Lake Garda and the Alps, is Palazzo Arzaga, an elegant 15th-century palace that has recently been transformed into a luxury spa and golf resort. The palazzo's cobbled courtyard is overflowing with climbing roses, and next to the Renaissance villa is the tiny 12th-century private chapel of San Martino. In the rooms and corridors, you can see many of the palazzo's original frescoes.
Palazzo Arzaga 25080 Carzago di Calvagese della Riviera, Italy (00 39 030 680 600; www.palazzoarzaga.com). Double rooms from €236.50 (£169). Rooms with frescoes cost from €450 (£321) including breakfast LG
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