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Last updated: 20 July, 2023

We’ve all fantasised as kids (and possibly adults) about being a prince or princess. The closest most of us will ever get is a ‘palace stay’.

A Sultan’s palace in Istanbul, a royal palace in Vienna, a Mughal fort-palace in India – there are some superb options out there to experience. Most are now luxury hotels, and will treat you like a king or queen.

Pampering aside, authentic palace stays also offer a taste of royal and aristocratic life from bygone eras. Here’s our round-up of 15 of the best.

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Ciragan Palace [sultan's palace]

Istanbul, Marmara Region, Turkey

Dating back to the 1860s, this was the last palace to be built in Istanbul for the Ottoman royals.

It’s now an opulent five-star hotel and celeb favourite, set on the banks of the Bosphorous, away from the cacophony of central Istanbul.

Official star rating:


Four Seasons Hotel Florence [Renaissance palazzo]

Florence, Tuscany, Italy

Live life like a Medici at this superb heritage hotel, occupying a beautiful, frescoed Renaissance palazzo.

Set in a majestic 11-acre park just outside Florence’s historic centre, it’s an oasis with typically impeccable Four Seasons facilities and services.

Official star rating:


Four Seasons Lion Palace [Russian imperial palace]

St. Petersburg, Northwestern Region, Russia

Step back into the atmosphere of Imperial Russia with a stay at this grand 19th-century palace, just steps away from the State Hermitage in St Petersburg, built as a residence for Princess Lobanova-Rostovskaya.

Here, you’ll experience life as a Tsar, with opulent décor, sumptuous interiors, a luxurious spa for maximum pampering, and caviar and champagne served in the classic, wood-panelled lounge.

Official star rating:


Gritti Palace [doge palace]

Venice, Veneto, Italy

The grandest dame of Venice’s classic hotels, the Gritti lords it over the Grand Canal from a superb spot just 10 minutes’ walk from Piazza San Marco.

This 15th-century palazzo was once home of Doge Andrea Gritti; expect opulent interiors stuffed with antiques and grand master paintings, glittering Murano glass chandeliers and lots of polished wood and marble.

Official star rating:


Lapa Palace [viscount's palace]

Lisbon, Portugal

History blends with romance at this gorgeous, 19th-century Viscount’s palace – now a sumptuous 5-star hotel – set in sub-tropical gardens just outside Lisbon.

Thoughtfully renovated to retain the palace’s original style, it combines original Portuguese 19th-century style with art deco, colonial and native Pombaline styles.

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Neemrana Fort-Palace [indian palace]

Alwar, Rajasthan, India

Originally built in the 1460s, this wonderfully restored and enhanced fort-palace hotel captures all of the romance of regal Rajasthan.

Built into the Aravalli Hills outside of Delhi, with views and sunsets galore, it’s a sublime confection of medieval fortress and fairy-tale palace.

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Palacio de los Duques [Spanish duke's palace]

Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain

On a quiet street near Madrid’s Royal Palace, this elegant 19th-century duke’s palace is now one of Madrid’s most luxurious hotels.

Set in manicured gardens, with Michelin-starred food and personal bulters, guests are treated like dukes who retire to the private lounge for day-long champagne, dip in the rooftop plunge pool.

Official star rating:


Palacio de Villapanes [Spanish aristocratic palace]

Seville, Andalusia, Spain

Just outside Seville’s Santa Cruz district, this 5-star design hotel occupies an 18th-century palace from the city’s glory days.

The roof terrace and pool have enchanting views over the Cathedral and La Giralda, and the fine restaurant offers a gourmet take on Andalusian dishes and the occasional flamenco show.

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Palacio Solecio Hotel [Spanish aristocratic palace]

Malaga, Andalusia, Spain

This handsome Malaga palace was built in 1776 for Felix Solecio, a wealthy city nobleman. It was designed by Jose Maria de Aldehuela, who also created the spectacular bridge over the river gorge in Ronda.

An elegant restaurant fills the glassed-in patio courtyard, bathed in natural light, where breakfast and Michelin-starred, gastronomic Andalusian cuisine is served to lucky guests.

Official star rating:


Palais Faraj [Moroccan nobleman's palace]

Fes, Fes-Meknes, Morocco

Built in the early 20th century, this glorious bourgeoisie palace is a cultural, historic and architectural gem.

Decorated throughout in traditional Moorish style with zelliges (mosaics), zouaks (paintings on wood) and stuccos, it’s a showcase of Morocco’s famed artisan craftsmanship. Berber carpets and old photos of Fez’s medina evoke an atmosphere of authentic Arab-Andalusian tradition.

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Pousada Palacio de Estoi [viscount's palace]

Faro, Algarve, Portugal

This Neoclassical / Art Nouveau beauty – known as the Algarve’s Pink Palace – was built in the 1840s by the Viscount of Estoi.

Now a luxury 5-star hotel, with all mod-cons, it’s famed for its pink rococo facade, Versailles-style gardens and an elaborate rococo-style interior of frescoes, panelling, ornate stucco ceilings, and gilded furniture.

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Samode Haveli [Indian nobleman's mansion]

Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

Tucked away in Jaipur Old City, this 200-hundred-year-old haveli (nobleman’s mansion) offers a romantic and atmospheric window into the lives and style of an aristocratic Rajput family.

Intimate rather than palatial in scale, its elegant and traditional decor includes fluted arches, frescoed walls and period furniture. The gorgeous dining hall offers traditional Rajasthani cuisine – fit for the aristocracy.

Official star rating:

Exterior view of the whole palace from the front

Schonbrunn Palace [Austrian imperial palace]

Vienna, Austria

Bucket List Experience

The Baroque Schonbrunn Palace – Vienna’s top attraction – was for centuries the summer home of the Habsburgs. And you can check in.

The 2-bed ‘Schloss Schonbrunn Grand Suite’, set within the complex, offers a uniquely authentic taste of the life of the imperial family that ruled Austria from 1282 until 1918 .

Best for ages: 13+ | £21

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Taj Lake Palace [maharana palace]

Udaipur, Rajasthan, India

Bucket List Experience

Built by the Maharana of Mewar in 1746, and the home of Octopussy‘s all-female cult, this achingly-beautiful lake palace is now a 5-star, 83 room hotel.

White marble walls hide an evocative world of interiors bedecked in semi-precious stones, peacock- and fountain- filled gardens, royal butlers and romantic sunsets.

Best for ages: 18+ | £700