There's something romantic about staying in a heritage abode - we can dream up intrigue, love stories, wars and more with the building as the setting. It is like being part of living history! Heritage stays also take luxury to the next level. Any hotel can fill its structure with all the modern luxuries that a tourist can want, but only a truly historic property can offer that luxury of character and lived heritage. Can anything make a heritage stay even better? Yes, if it is far from the madding crowds. Here we bring you six such properties, for feeling like royalty on vacation:
1. Ramathra Fort, Sapotra, Rajasthan
Set deep in the interiors of Eastern Rajasthan, the Ramathra Fort is rural Rajasthan at its most luxurious. Set atop a hill, the well-preserved fort looks straight out of a children’s storybook. This is wild and rough country. The four-hour drive from Jaipur acts as an introduction to the region—as you get closer to the Fort, the scrublands increase and human habitats recede. But once you are within the fort’s ramparts, you are ensconced in the warm hospitality and the luxuriousness of old-world aristocracy. Inside the wide ramparts of the fort is a multi-storeyed palace, offering suites and deluxe rooms. The grounds also feature six luxury Swiss tents that will make you feel like you are part of a shikar retinue of a maharaja of old. Exploring the Fort, dining on the ramparts or enjoying the jacuzzi on the rampart are all outstanding experiences. The three-hour walking tour of the nearby Ramathara village is a rewarding experience. This is bang in the heart of Daang country and exploring this wild land, interspered with rural hamlets and farmland, is a unique experience, especially rewarding for wildlife enthusiasts as this region is home to many species of birds and also animals like deer, blue bulls, wolves, sloth bears, and panthers.
2. Maison Perumal, Puducherry
Puducherry is quite well entrenched on tourist maps, but it is the Fresh Quarter that tourists typically throng to. The Tamil Quarter, while bustling and more full of regular life, is not really the focus of tourists. Which makes CGH Earth's Maison Perumal, the stunning 18th century Chettiar bungalow turned into a heritage hotel in the heart of the erstwhile Tamil quarter of Puducherry, a true hidden gem. The building is a work of art, with a beautiful courtyard, wooden pillars, stained glass, carved doorposts and many other such features. A highlight of a stay at the Maison is the truly delicious food. Locally grown traditional produce like yams and drumsticks feature prominently in the menu that leans heavily towards local Tamil and Creole cuisine. Of course, there's much to see and do in Puducherry but do try to schedule a cooking demo with the hotel's in-house chef.
3. The Postcard Cuelim, Goa
Cuelim is one of the quieter villages of Goa that many tourists bypass on their way to the fair beaches of South Goa. In this village is a beautifully restored heritage home turned hotel that once the home of Dr T B Cunha, the Father of Goan Liberation. The spacious 350-year-old mansion is fine example of vintage Portuguese-Goan architecture. The arched entrance, the antique-filled high-ceilinged ballrooms, the sweeping wooden staircase, the tall French windows and the light-filled interiors all make this a well-restored heritage stay. The grounds, filled with many different varieties of plants and trees including numerous coconut trees, open up to acres of lush paddy fields—a view that is precious in Goa. What sets the Postcard Cuelim apart is the chance it offers to guests to enjoy a quiet vacation in Goa!
4. Bharatgarh Fort, Ropar, Punjab
This stunning over-230-year-old heritage fort turned hotel is located not too far from historic Anandpur Sahib. The fort is set in seven acres of land with around 100-acres of surrounding forests amidst the Shivalik Ranges and close to the Sutlej canal and is a great setting for a relaxed holiday in Punjab’s heartland. The Fort's history is closely intertwined with that of Sikh history and a stay here is a good way of understanding the Sikh religion and heritage. The two famous Gurudwaras, Thakat Shri Kesh Garh Sahib and Shri Qila Anandgarh Sahib, in nearby Anandpur Sahib are must visits. So also is the Virasat-e-Khalsa, a museum located in Anandpur Sahib that details the birth of Sikhism and the Khalsa. There's much to do at the Fort too, where travellers can enjoy the best of rural Punjab life. A morning walk through the farms to the nearby Canal, a walk through the private forest, a spot of fishing at the in-house fish pond or spending a few hours birdwatching here and exploring the Bharatgarh village and the delights of the local sweet shop all keep you occupied through the day. You can enjoy the rich and delicious local Punjabi cuisine, dripping in ghee and butter of course, made with ingredients mostly grown on the farms of the Fort. A picnic on the grounds or near the farms is a memorable experience.
5. Chettinadu Mansion Heritage Resort, Kanadukathan, Tamil Nadu
The Chettinadu Mansion Heritage Resort is one of the finest examples of the stunning and sprawling 'palaces' built by the mercantile Chettiyars at the turn of the 20th century. The maginficent mansion-turned-homestay in Kanadukathan, one of the main villages in the region, was built in 1902 and has been carefully restored. Spread over 80,000 sq ft, the mansion offers just 12 rooms for guests, all on the first floor. The beautiful pillared courtyards, the traditional Athangudi tiles, the spacious rooms, the carved antique wood furniture—all ensure an authentic experience. Here you can taste the best of the famous Cettinad cuisine, like the Chettinadu Chicken, Mutton Kolambu, Kola Urundai, Kuli Paniyaram, Vella Paniyaram, Kandarappam and Kavanarisi.
6. The Lal Kothi, Raison, Himachal Pradesh
The Lal Kothi, nestled in the Kullu Valley amidst fruit orchards with views of soaring mountains and tree covered valleys, is that quintessential retreat that those in love with mountains dream of. Lal Kothi, built in 1941, is a great example of the ‘kat-kooni’ Himachali style of architecture, with its 20-inch thich stone and mud walls and heavy use of the wood. The building is wonderfully preserved. The homestay offers just four rooms, all comfortable and offering great views of the surrounding orchards. The idea of a stay here is to be far from the crowds and enjoy being in the lap of nature. The fruit orchards are, of course, close at hand and they are filled with birds and butterflies. The River Beas is a five minute walk away and there are waterfalls and scenic spots a plenty to be explored! Guests can go hiking, trekking, camping, paragliding, trout river fishing or white water rafting. If you are looking for a slower holiday, there is picnicing in the orchards or by the river and fruit picking and curling up by the fireplace in the drawing room or watching the mountains from the verandah. Or just follow the butterflies as they make their way around the gardens and orchards.