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LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER

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The Luxury Hotel Insider: Exclusive luxury hotel deals, features and special rates from the luxury hotel experts at Five Star Alliance.
Named one of Tripbase's Best Luxury Travel Blogs for 2011, below are Five Star Alliance's newest articles featuring exclusive information on luxury hotels worldwide including special offers and deals at the world's best hotels.

| By: Rachael Weir

Taj Lake Palace

Offering a contrast of cultures, religions, and history, India provides a range of experiences for travelers. In this edition of Featured Journeys, we're highlighting royal palace hotels on this multi-destination trip to India. We begin in Hyderabad at the Taj Falaknuma Palace, next we head to a palace in the middle of a lake at the Taj Lake Palace (shown above), and we end our journey in Mumbai, the Gateway to India. 

Hyderabad, India

One of India's former princely states, Hyderabad was once one of the country's largest and wealthiest states. More than 400 years old, the city built its fortune on pearls, gold, steel, fabric, and diamonds. At one time, the city and the Golconda Fort was the most famous dining mining area in the world, as Golconda is where the Koh-i-Noor and Hope diamonds were excavated. Today, the city is the capital of Andhra Pradesh, and it is known for thriving information technology and biotech research industries. There's a vibrant culture here with luxury hotels and regional cuisine. 

Taj Falaknuma Palace

Green palace bedroom at Taj Falaknuma Palae

Formerly the palace of the Nizam, Taj Falaknuma Palace was built in 1894. Perched 2,000 feet above the City of Pearls, the grand palace offers guests a royal experience. Visitors arrive via a horse-drawn carriage, and butlers attend to their needs while staying at the palace. Spread over 32 acres, the palace hotel has 60 guest rooms and suites where opulence, excess, and historical details are honored and revered. Adaa provides a gastronomic experience with fine Indian cuisine, the Jiva Spa has an array of treatments rooted in traditional Indian practices, and afternoon tea is served on the Jade Terrace. 

FIVE STAR ALLIANCE PERK: Guests making reservations through Five Star Alliance receive full breakfast daily and one dinner at Adaa per person, per stay. Also, subject to availability at the time of check-in/departure: a room upgrade, early check-in, and late check-out.

Check rates at Taj Falaknuma Palace

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Udaipur, India

This picturesque area in Rajasthan is set around Lake Pichola with the purple-hued Aravalli Range of mountains in surrounding the city in every direction. Here travelers can visit colorful bazaars to shop for local goods, take in a lively arts scene, go for a boat ride, and explore city's palaces, temples, and traditional decorated residences called havelis

Taj Lake Palace

Spa Boat at Taj Lake Palace

Built as a pleasure palace by the the young prince, Maharana Jagat Singh II of Udaipur in 1746, Taj Lake Palace is a heritage hotel situated in the middle of Lake Pichola. Restored to its pristine and elegant glory, the hotel's 65 luxe guest rooms and 18 grand suites feature views of the lake, Aravalli Hills, Machla Magra Hills, and Jag Mandir. The site of a variety of movies including the Bond film "Octopussy", this regal property is popular for weddings and honeymoons, as well as travelers seeking a royal experience at the Jiva Spa (including the spa boat shown above) or authentic Rajasthani at Neel Kamal. 

FIVE STAR ALLIANCE PERK: Guests booking the "5 Star Signature Package" rate will also receive lunch or dinner for two once during stay, a Heritage Walk of the property followed by a glass of sparkling wine, a 15% discount on spa services, Butler Service, daily a la carte breakfast for two in Jharokha Restaurant, and a traditional welcome amenity. 

Check rates at Taj Lake Palace

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Mumbai, India

Once known as Bombay, Mumbai is a fusion of cultures and time periods. Reminders of its colonial past are never far away, and new malls mix with historic sites like the UNESCO-protected Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. The fast-growing city has been the Gateway to India for centuries due to its strong port location, and it continues to evolve while maintaining its spiritual roots. Babulnath Temple is a serene destination for Hindu pilgrims, and Muslims walk to the white marble Haji Ali shrine via the seafront causeway.

The Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai

The Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai

Within walking distance of the Colaba Causeway, The Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai was recently trademarked. Built in 1903, the property has been a landmark in the city's harbour, welcoming kings, dignitaries, and prominent figures from around the world since its opening. Overlooking the Gateway of India, the hotel is strategically located in the city's historic and commercial hub. Close to the financial hub, parliament, stadium, shopping, and office districts, as well as museums, churches, and synagogues, the palace hotel harkens the glamour of a bygone era. Golden Keys Concierge can assist guests with exclusive experiences, authentic cuisine is served at Masala Kraft, and Golden Dragon offers Chinese specialties. 

FIVE STAR ALLIANCE PERK: Guests booking the "5 Star Signature Package" rate will also receive buffet breakfast for two daily at Sea Lounge and a one way airport to hotel transfer in a Mercedes car on a sharing basis. 

Check rates at The Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai

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| By: Oksana Balytsky

We understand that no one aims to come in second place; there is no recognition for mediocrity. We at Five Star Alliance understand better than anyone the importance of offering the most luxurious resorts in the world, so we notice what’s going on in the industry, and it matters to us, because it matters to you. We work hard to offer you the best in the industry, and we’d like to welcome you to our second blog series where we feature the best and most luxurious resorts in the world. But don’t take our word for it. These resorts have been recognized as the best in the business and have made the prestigious Condé Nast Traveler Gold List 2012.

The Condé Nast Traveler Gold List 2012 is the eighth of their annual lists, and the hotels chosen by their team of editors and experts are the best for service, food, location, rooms, leisure facilities, ambiance and design.

Taj Falaknuma Palace Saisons in Hyderabad, India is featured on the Gold List 2012: Best for ambiance and design. This luxury hotel is 2,000 feet above Hyderabad with 60 beautiful rooms that look out over the clouds and the city. The hotel features Venetian chandeliers, antique furniture, grand marble staircases, intricate fountains, stained-glass windows, a world-class collection of crystal, and Japanese gardens. The Palace Library is a collector’s envy, home to the rarest of manuscripts, books, and one of the most acclaimed collections of the Holy Quran. It’s clear why this luxury hotel has received recognition for its design, and we certainly recommend taking it all in in person by adding this hotel to your bucket list of places to stay.