Ever wondered how modern royalty lives? Now you can experience it yourself with Airbnb.
The sprawling 300-year-old City Palace complex located in Jaipur, the capital of India’s Rajasthan state, is home to its royal family. As of November 23, a room in the palace will be available to book on Airbnb. It’s the first royal residence ever to be listed on the platform and also the first listing to be hosted by a member of a royal family.
Guests of the $8,000 USD (approximately $10,000 Canadian) Gudliya Suite, located within a section of the palace off limits to the public, will be looked after by a private butler and provided with a guide to arrange curated cultural experiences in Jaipur, also known as the Pink City, which was recently deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The newly redecorated suite was once used as the maharajah’s private hammam and now features its own indoor swimming pool, sitting rooms and private outdoor courtyard. The design of the room was influenced by other floors in the palace and is an amalgamation of its decor.
Previously, this portion of the palace was only available to royal family members and their guests, which have included Jackie Kennedy, Prince Charles and Bill Clinton.
The host of the Airbnb is His Highness Maharaja Sawai Padmanabh Singh, the affable 21-year-old monarch of Jaipur, known by his friends and family as “Pacho.”
“I never thought we would ever do this,” admits Padmanabh, who spoke with us at City Palace ahead of the official launch of the listing. “Most palaces in touristic cities are hotels. When Airbnb came about, I saw something different there.”
The goal of the partnership says Padmanabh is to promote Jaipur as a tourist destination.
“My forefathers have all been progressive men and made decisions unlike all the other families of India,” he adds. “We can relate a lot to the brand: I’m young and I travel a lot and I like to call myself modern and forward thinking. We obviously had our reservations [as a family], but Airbnb offered to support our foundation and they saw what I see in Jaipur, the potential our city has.”
One hundred percent of the revenue from the Airbnb bookings will go to Princess Diya Kumari’s namesake foundation, a nonprofit that supports and empowers underprivileged women in Rajasthan by teaching them artisanal skills and providing jobs. (Kumari is Padmanabh’s mother.)
Rajasthan has one of the lowest female literacy rates in India. Airbnb will work with the Princess Diya Kumari Foundation (PDKF) to educate and improve the digital literacy of women supported by the foundation. One goal is to help them market their skills as craft makers so they are able to host what Airbnb brands as “Airbnb experiences,” i.e. cultural activities organized and led by locals for tourists, offered on the platform.
For the rest of 2019, the Gudliya Suite will be available for the (comparatively low) price of $1,000 USD per night. Airbnb will offset this discount by donating the remainder of the regular room rate to the foundation itself.
“A lot of my friends come to India, and especially Jaipur, for the first time and tell me they will never see the world with the same eyes again,” says Padmanabh. “There’s so much to experience here. It takes you back into a dream world that you could never imagine until you see it for yourself. From the architecture to the people, the food and the rituals…the way it all comes together I find so romantic. If I don’t come to Jaipur for a month, I miss it.”
Below, get a look inside City Palace and the Gudliya Suite available on Airbnb.
The exterior of City Palace.
A hallway in City Palace overlooking the sprawling private gardens.
Within the walls of City Palace.
The Blue Room in City Palace.
The entrance to the Gudliya suite available on Airbnb.
The Gudliya suite.
One part of the bathroom in the Gudliya suite.
The makeup/powder room in the Gudliya suite.