Ten Famous Palaces You Can Actually Stay In

If you will never receive an invitation from royalty, you can at least check into these veritable palaces for a taste of royal life.

SCHONBRUNN PALACE, VIENNA, AUSTRIA

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Photo: Austria Trend

Although the adjacent Imperial Guest House was long a hotel, you can now stay in the east wing of Schönbrunn, the gilded and cherubim-laden summer palace of Austrian emperors. The Single Suite has a living room, lounge, and two bedrooms, and offers magnificent views of sprawling Baroque gardens and splashing fountains. With a horse-drawn carriage ride you will feel like a happy Habsburg. See schoenbrunn.at

CIRAGAN PALACE, ISTANBUL, TURKEY

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Photo: Kempinsky

The Ottoman sultans knew a thing or three about living in luxury, though you can top them by arriving at Çırağan Kempinski Palace by helicopter. The hotel is fabulously located on the Bosphorus and flanked by swimming pools and lush lawns. Savor Ottoman cuisine at Tuğra Restaurant, soak in the OTT marble hammam, and relax at the gazebo over Turkish coffee and pastries. See kempinski.com

THE GREAT CONTROL, VERSAILLES, FRANCE

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Photo: Palace of Versailles

Granted, it’s not the current palace, but you can stay on the Versailles estate in a mansion built around the same time that once housed Jacques Necker, Louis XVI’s finance minister. It has just 14 historic-style rooms (but luckily with modern plumbing) plus a spa and gourmet Alain Ducasse restaurant. Guests enjoy exclusive backstage access to the palace. See airelles.com

ROYAL MANSOUR, MARRAKECH, MOROCCO

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Photo: Royal Mansour

Finally, a hotel owned by a king (Mohammed VI) still on a throne, although you won’t find it at reception. Wedged within the old walls of the medina, the property looks towards the snow-capped Atlas Mountains and is hauntingly beautiful with its traditional tiling, stucco work and opulence. We don’t have a room, but a whole house with a private butler, and the service is impeccable. See royalmansour.com

RAMBAGH PALACE, JAIPUR, INDIA

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Photo: Taj Hotels

The Maharajas of Jaipur once called this vast, elegant, turreted palace, and today you could still rub shoulders with true Bollywood royalty at the Polo Bar. VIPs are greeted by a couple of elephants. Mughal architecture combines with French chandeliers, gigantic four-poster beds, polo memorabilia and British-era trinkets; a Victorian train carriage is now a bar. Peacocks strut their way through gardens that stretch for acres. See tajhotels.com

GRITTI PALACE, VENICE, ITALY

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Photo: Gritti Palace

A doge is not quite a king, although the doges may not have agreed. Yet this 15th century palace on the Grand Canal treats you as such. The go-to choice for celebrities and aristocrats is, as you’d expect in Venice, encrusted with chandeliers, Murano glass, painted ceilings, artwork, and period furniture. It’s so plush that if you sink into a couch, you might never get up again. See marriott.com

AMAN SUMMER PALACE, BEIJING, CHINA

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Photo: Aman Hotels

This former guest house of the 19th-century Imperial family is tucked away in a corner of the sprawling Summer Palace and consists of a series of courtyards and walled gardens filled with Ming Dynasty furniture and latticework screens Of wood. You also benefit from high-end restaurants, a contemporary spa and impeccable service. Indulge your inner princess with tea at the Water Pavilion while traditional Chinese musicians soothe you. See aman.com

ROSERSBERG PALACE, ROSERSBERG, SWEDEN

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Pphoto: Rosersberg Palace

This elegant palace on the outskirts of Stockholm once belonged to Karl XIII. Rooms occupy several wings, including the old theatre, and pull off the trick of being stylishly contemporary while still having an echo of the past. You can dine at a chic French restaurant and make the most of the beautiful Baroque-style historic gardens and parks, filled with lilac blossoms in late spring. See rosersbergsslott.se

UMAID BHAWAN PALACE, JODHPUR, INDIA

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Photo: Taj Hotels

The colossal Umaid Bhawan, built in the 1930s in a striking Art Deco style, is one of the largest private residences in the world, still partially occupied by the royal family of Jodhpur. The Rest is a chic hotel whose lobby sits under a 32-meter-high dome and whose retro suites are plush with antique furniture and artwork. Enjoy the Maharaja lifestyle over afternoon tea and croquet in the manicured gardens. See tajhotels.com

BUSSACO PALACE HOTEL, LUSO, PORTUGAL

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Photo: Almeida Hotels

You’d think a fairy queen designed this little palace with neo-Gothic arches, gorgeous plasterwork and absurd romance, set amid formal gardens and reflected in a pond paddled by swans. It was actually built in 1885 as a hunting lodge for the Portuguese royal family, complete with gargoyles and anachronistic armour. You can always dine like a king on the suckling pig in the banquet hall. See almeidahotels.pt

Brian Johnston has traveled as a guest of many tourist boards and travel agencies.

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