Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Umaid Bhawan Palace

The Million Dollar Decorators (that would be Mary, Nathan, Martyn, Jeffrey, and Kathryn) came to ADAC this month, and I have never seen such a turnout at ADAC before! I think that almost everybody in the Atlanta design community was there, and the consensus is that all five of the designers cum reality stars came across as the witty and vivacious people that they are.

During the panel discussion (which was led, by the way, by Veranda editor-in-chief Dara Caponigro), the designers were asked about what inspires them, and the topic of travel came up. I for one am quite envious because they all seem to be jetting hither and yon to all kinds of exotic places- and often. Mary McDonald mentioned a hotel in India that she found particularly inspiring because of its Art Deco interiors that were in pristine condition. It sounded like she called it the Umaid Bhawan, but I can't be sure because I didn't write it down.

Over the weekend, I was reading
Architectural Digest Chateaux and Villas, a book that was loaned to me by my friend Will Merrill. In it, there was a chapter on the Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur, one of the last great palaces of the maharajas. Built in the 1930s by Maharaja Sir Umaid Singh, the vast palace boasts a hybrid design of both Eastern and Western architecture of which the British architectural firm Lanchester and Lodge was responsible. What caught my eye more than the impressive size of the palace, though, are the Art Deco and Streamline Moderne interiors. And the murals by Polish designer Stefan Norblin just add to the appeal.

Unfortunately, a finished palace never completely came to fruition as World War II hindered the completion of the palace's interiors. Today, the palace is a hotel run by the Taj group, although the current Maharaja still retains residence in another part of the palace. In addition to the AD photos, I also found a few intriguing ones from the
hotel's website. I don't know if this is the hotel that Mary spoke so highly of, but even if it isn't, I'm going to add it to my list of places that I want to visit- hopefully someday soon.

(By the way, I have to congratulate Will Merrill. One of his designs for Currey & Co.- a small drinks table that is so charming- made the cover of the new Charlotte Moss book. Yay, Will!)

The Central Hall is a circular wonder.

The oval grand staircase adjoins the Central Hall. Look closely to the left of the staircase and you'll see some type of tented curtain.

A Guest Suite was inspired by the great luxury ocean liners. The mural was painted by Stefan Norblin, as were the murals in the photo below.

The Throne Room.

A Guest Bath sheathed in onyx and marble. According to the book, the wall sconces were a "recent innovation at that time."

A Guest Room featured a chrome-banded bed on a platform. The acid-etched black glass panel above the bed was executed by Norblin.

I found this photo of a Deco room on the hotel's website.

And, ending the post with a splash, the hotel's photo of the Zodiac Pool. Again, the murals were by Norblin. Is this pool amazing or what?

All photos with the exception of the last two from Architectural Digest Chateaux and Villas; bottom two courtesy of the Umaid Bhawan website.


  1. I am very familiar with Umaid Bhawan but I had never heard of "The Million Dollar Decorators"!

  2. This palace conjures one of my favorite lyrics:

    I dreamt I dwelt in marble halls
    With vassals and serfs at my side,
    And of all who assembled within those walls
    That I was the hope and the pride.
    I had riches all too great to count
    And a high ancestral name.

    But I also dreamt which pleased me most
    That you loved me still the same.


  3. Liz- That is really lovely. Truly!

  4. i HIGHLY recommend adding this book to your library -i refer to it often!
    A friend of mine had been living in India for the past 2 years witha lot of weekend travel and she stayed here right before she left. She's not a designer, or even particularly interested in design,but she said the hotel changed her life. It's amazing.

  5. Yes, this is the same palace that Ms. McDonald referred to. Although I wasn't in the audience for the talk I can say that with a fair amount of confidence as there is only one such palace in India. Unfortunately I wasn't able to visit it (when I was in Rajasthan it was not yet a hotel) but the dome is so incredible--you can see it miles off from landing!

    I wish that you had shared a photo of the bar--one of my favorites!

  6. Jennifer!
    Aren't you nice ---- so very, very nice! I just came home after a long tiring day down in Charlotte,
    and sunk into my lounge chair, turned on Am. Idol, and opend my
    Ipad to check todays blogs (of course yours is always the first to check0, and what did I see but my own name!
    You are so nice to to give me credit for the loan of the book (as you know Umaid Bhawan Palace was not the reason that it was sent), but don't you just love the Art Deco interiors, and especially that bath!
    And then the double whammy was your mention of my table on the cover of Charlotte Mosses book!
    I couldn't believe it when I got the book. I an so honored that she liked it enough to use in her lovely room, and then to so promently show it on the cover!
    Wow! I guess that it is the simple little things, like that little table, that can be most appreciated.
    My client in Charlotte had gotten one a year ago, and then because she liked it so much, just recently got the matching console table.
    Many thanks agian. Will

  7. Jennifer Uhmad Bhavan is as glorious as you describe and show, having stayed at the palace for a week it is my favourite Hotel in the world The Art Deco suites the black marble bathroom, and the Zodiac swimming pool are sublime, and so are the Art Deco guest rooms . I was fortunate to attend one of the maharajahs evening parties in the magically lit white pavilion in the garden with floating sheer draperies , musicians playing sitars under moon and stars and magnificent food served guests all in sari and turbans of brilliant color one of the great magical nights of my life I have some great photos to show if you wish to share them Lemeau Decorators Insider

  8. The hotel is fabulous, as well as the book! I would love to stay there someday.

    Also, so happy you mentioned Will! He was at my home today looking at the new furniture I ordered from his Currey Collection for my living room. He is going to be so thrilled.

    Love your blog!

  9. Lost in Provence- I don't think that I ever found a photo of the bar. Perhaps I didn't look hard enough!

    Lemeau- I would love to see your photos!

  10. Will- You deserve the heap of praise!

    Kristen- Lucky you to be getting pieces from Will's collection!

  11. Hello again,

    Well, now I can't find any photos of the bar, which is driving me crazy! But as a fellow cocktail lover, I know that you would appreciate it. I'll send it along if I can turn something up.

    Best Wishes,


  12. Nice blog post. The Umaid Bhawan Palace was the last palace built in Jodhpur and happens to be one of the largest royal residence in the world. Also, there are so many other irresistible places to visit in Jodhpur such as Kheechan Bird Sanctuary, Umaid Bhawan Palace, Udai Mandir, and Jaswant Thada.