Palace Hotels Around the World for Your Royal Pampering

Staying in a modern 5-star hotel is nice, but what if you could stay in a true palace instead? In some countries you can sleep where royalty slept, palace hotels that were once filled with kings and queens, dukes and countesses, or maharajas–and their army of servants. 

Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest

While the palace hotels of the world could fill a whole coffee table book, here are some destinations to consider that are filled with them, along with some castle hotels we have stayed at in other locations. Get your royalty experience going at these palatial properties. 

Palace Hotels of India

The kings of India, the maharajas, ruled princely states big and small, some of these Indian rulers retaining power of some kind even during British rule. so there are palaces scattered around different parts of the country. You can ride one of the luxury trains that includes a few of them on a set itinerary or take a Spicejet flight between the host cities and pick your own palaces. 

Some of India’s palace hotels have appeared in movies, like the first one below, which was in a James Bond movie in the Roger Moore era and many more since. 

Udaipur Lake Palace Hotel

Taj Udaipur Lake Palace – You’ve surely seen this image in photos, movies, and TV shows, in multiple languages even. The Taj Lake Palace is one of the world’s most unique converted palaces, seemingly floating like a mirage in the middle of Lake Udaipur. From the swimming pool you look back at the historic city of Udaipur and another palace where royalty spent most of their time, on the mainland. 

Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur – This one looks older than it is thanks to the building style and skilled stone carving, but this palace on the highest point in the city is less than a century old. You can truly feel like you’re in a ruler’s home though: The Maharaja of Jodhpur retains his title and property, with his family still living in part of the sprawling structure. 

Rambagh Palace, Jaipur – The popular Rajasthan city of Jaipur has several palace hotels, but the one with the most history is Rambagh Palace, the former residence of the Maharaja of the local kingdom. You can swim in the original indoor pool or dine where the royal family did. Now part of the Taj Hotels group. 

Gajner Palace, Bikaner – The Gajner Palace Hotel is a destination on its own in Rajasthan, on 6,000 acres of land that once hosted royal hunting parties. Now that area is a wildlife reserve you can explore and the setting of the palace on a lake is gorgeous. 

Neemrana Fort-Palace Hotel – Close enough to Delhi to host grand Indian weddings, this palace hotel has a longer history than most, with some of the buildings dating back to the 15th century. See our review of Neemrana Hotel

The Pousadas of Portugal

Portugal has one of the largest collections of palaces you can stay in among the countries of Europe, with many of them belonging to a formal one-stop booking collection: Pousadas of Portugal. Some of them that are not in prime tourist areas are surprisingly affordable too, giving you the chance to live like royalty without heaps of family money in the vault. Here are a few to consider: 

Tivoli Palacio de Seteais, Sintra – This may not technically be a palace since it was a very fancy diplomat’s residence, for the Dutch consul back in the days of colonial riches, but it’s one of the most opulent estates in Portugal where you can check in for the night. 

Alentejo castle hotel

Castelo Estremoz Hotel – This imposing palace in the Alentejo region, formerly known as Rainha Santa Isabel, sits on a hilltop surrounded by a stone wall. It’s Portugal’s version of a fortified castle. That means it has great views from almost every room and the public spaces will really take you back in time. See our review of Castelo Estremoz Hotel

Pousada Castelo Óbidos Hotel – If you want a palace hotel with a good backstory, stay at this one near the coast and striking distance to Lisbon. The castle was a wedding present to Queen Santa Isabel by King D. Dinis. They even got married here at this site. Soak up history going back 1,000 years in this medieval village. 

Lapa Palace Hotel of Lisbon – This opulent palace from the 18th century has beautiful gardens and stunning public areas, with a view of the Tagus River. See our review of Ollissipo Lapa Palace in Portugal

Lapa Palace hotel Lisbon

Castle Hotels of Ireland

What’s the difference between a palace and a castle? Well, perhaps the latter was fortified and colder, but either will let you relax in style in the modern age. Few places have as many castles turned into hotels as Ireland and our contributors have been fortunate enough to stay in some of them. Sleep in a turret or have your breakfast in the great hall at one of these beauties.

Ashford Castle –  Set on 26,000 acres on the shores of Lough Corrib, this may be the most famous castle hotel in Ireland and it is associated with one of the country’s most famous exports: it belonged to the Guinness family. It has hosted a long list of celebrities and made appearances in multiple movies and TV shows. See our full Ashford Castle review here. 

Ashford Castle Hotel in Ireland on Hotel

Dromoland Castle – on Ireland’s famous Wild Atlantic Way, Dromoland Castle is a grand estate that was the family palace of Dromoland O’Brien’s, Kings of Thomond. You’ll be enthralled with the setting, the food, and the service, plus there’s a golf course here as well. See our review of Dromoland Castle.  

Castle Leslie – This is one of the most accessible castle hotels in Ireland since it’s an easy drive from the Dublin airport. This is part of a 1,000-acre estate though, so it’s not hemmed in by urban development. It faces a lake and has its own equestrian center for exploring on horseback. See our Castle Leslie review here

Kilkea Castle  – If you want to really go back in time, this is the longest continually inhabited castle in Ireland, with a history going back to the 12th century. See our Kilkea Castle review here

Other Palace Hotels of Europe

Some countries only have one or two palaces that have been converted into hotels, but they’re spectacular places to spend the night if you’re in that city. 

Gresham Palace Budapest 

You get the combination of Four Seasons service and a grand royal building at Gresham Palace Hotel, right on the Danube by the most-photographed bridge in Hungary. This was actually a capitalist’s palace and not a house for royalty, but plenty of aristocrats slept here in the late 1800s. See our detailed review of Gresham Palace Hotel

Ciragan Palace Kempinski in Istanbul

Built in 1871 as the Ottoman empire was taking some design cues from the rest of Europe, Ciragan Palace has been a hotel since 1992. You can soak up the history in the original palace building or sit by the pool that faces the Bosphorus and be looking at Europe and Asia at the same time. See our review of Ciragan Palace Kempinski Hotel

Ciragan Palace Hotel Istanbul

Culzean Castle, Ayrshire, Scotland

Picture a grand castle on a cliff, with waves crashing below, and perfectly tended green gardens on the other side. Culzean Castle is around 100 miles from Edinburgh and is worth the trip to get your royal experience. There are only six bedrooms here, so if you book it as a family or small group you can act like you own the place. 

Peckforton Castle, Cheshire, UK

You may have seen this castle on TV since it has been in episodes of Doctor Who and movies such as Sherlock Holmes and Robin Hood. It dates back to the 18th century and was a family estate for two centuries. A hotel since 1988, it now has 48 rooms and 4,800 acres of forest to explore. 

Hotel Danieli, Venice

This Luxury Collection hotel is just a block from St. Mark’s Square in Venice, Italy. This place has quite the historic pedigree. Comprising three palaces along the Bacino San Marco, the hotel’s main building was commissioned by the noble Venetian family Dandolo in the 14th century. Four Dandolos have served as Doges (the senior-most elected official) of Venice. See our review of Hotel Danieli here

Hotel Danieli Venice

Badrutt’s Palace Hotel St. Moritz

This one in Switzerland is kind of a cheat since it was actually built as a hotel to start with, in the late 1800s. It was built to last on a grand scale though and certainly feels like a residence of kings–rather appropriate since it has hosted plenty of modern-age heads of state. See our review of Badrutt’s Palace

Have you stayed in one of these palace hotels or is there another one you’ve experienced? Tell us about it in the comments! 

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