Taj Falaknuma Palace: one of the Best Hotels and Resorts in the World in 2020 according to Condé Nast Traveler Magazine
At this palatial 32-acre hilltop estate in Falaknuma (India), there's an art to the first impression: Because cars aren’t permitted beyond the front gate, visitors arrive at reception in a golf cart or, for VIPs, a horse-drawn carriage. In lieu of a formal check-in desk, a standard bearer greets guests by militarily clicking his heels before leading them under a shower of rose petals and into the former ruler of Hyderabad’s neo-Palladian palace. The rest of the experience is no less impressive, with museum-quality reception rooms furnished in late-Victorian style, gleaming with burnished wood and leather, and a gracious garden courtyard with trees and fountains is flanked by two wings housing most of the 60 rooms. Just beyond one of the wings, the suites faithfully decorated in a grand Edwardian manner surround a smaller, star-shaped courtyard. Two accomplished restaurants sit at the other end of the main courtyard, one the Mediterranean Celeste, the other Adá, whose forte is highly refined Hyderabadi slow-cooking. Between these, on a terrace under the colored-glass canopy of the belvedere, guests take cocktails as the sun sets, appreciating the subtly shifting colors of the palace and sky – witness the meaning of falaknuma ("mirror in the sky" in Urdu).