January 2024 | 732 words | 3-minute read
He’s the first thing you notice when you enter the suite — standing at the threshold, welcoming you with his signature smile and folded hands. The two-feet tall Maharaja is the inspiration behind the recently launched Maharaja suite at the Taj Mahal, New Delhi.
“This was a spectacular opportunity to create a vibrant space that matches the Maharaja’s colourful personality,” says architect and designer Bobby Mukherji who has designed the sprawling 132sq mt suite as the Maharaja’s home and not just a hotel room. “This place belongs to the modern-day Maharaja. We see him as the original Maharaja’s grandson who is now a king in his own right — a jet-setter who travels around the world, parties hard and works harder. That is why there is a study where he can get to work, a larger than usual bar and dining area so that he can entertain guests and a lavish bed and bath where he can relax after a long day.”
A modern interpretation
At first glance, it is this larger-than-life design language that stands out — be it the use of bold colours, like the canary yellow suede couch, which is at once retro and modern (Mr Mukherji tells us these 1960s-style sofas are the latest trend); specially commissioned silk cushions; the lacquered red doors that bring the Maharaja’s signature colour to life; the custom wallpapers depicting iconic scenes from north India (the Ashoka Pillar, Varanasi temples and key Delhi monuments all find a mention); and specially commissioned upholstery that takes off from the colours of his outfit and, of course, his signature moustache.
A closer look reveals the finer details that borrow from Air India’s rich past — the suede and rivet panelling on the ceiling harks back to the silk and leather ceilings of old aircrafts; the wallpaper in the powder room reflects the carrier’s traditional window designs; the leather side table is inspired by vintage trunks; and the rounded windows and doorways mimic an airplane’s interiors. The colours and patterns will also remind you of the iconic 1960s Air India 747s, known for their flamboyant design, bold colour schemes, and India-inspired wall patterns. The theme carries on in the well-appointed study with photographs of JRD Tata from some of the carrier’s early flights, and a vintage poster featuring the Maharaja. All elements that tell tales of a proud past.
“The Maharaja Suite pays homage to Air India, the pioneer of Indian aviation,” says Puneet Chhatwal, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Indian Hotels Company Ltd. “Its design reflects the characteristic style, wit and warmth of the much-loved icon — the Maharaja. We are proud to partner with Air India with the introduction of the Maharaja suite at Taj Mahal, New Delhi, which will be followed by one in Taj Lands End, Mumbai.”
With so many colours, patterns and elements, it could be easy to look overbearingly kitschy, but to the design team’s credit, the suite is tastefully done, giving you the feeling of being inside a glamorous 1960s Hollywood classic. “Many design elements that were in fashion in the 1960s, a period when both Air India and the Maharaja were at their peak, are making a comeback — like curved edges, the use of gold and mirror accents in furniture, and rattan on the walls,” explains Mr Mukherji. Modern technology, like voice-controlled lights and appliances, a state-of-the-art home theatre and music system, and video conferencing, address the needs of the modern traveller.
Wide windows run almost the length of the suite, looking out to the lush greenery of Lutyens’ Delhi and its grand bungalows, with the bedroom having a view of the hotel pool. The focal point of the bedroom is a specially commissioned island bed with rattan side tables, placed over a custom hand-tufted carpet, with red lacquered cupboards adding a pop of colour.
It is, however, the expansive walk-in bath that takes your breath away. With a Venetian cut glass mirror wall, Italian marble floor and walls, gilded faucets, and a gold-accented tub, the bath is truly opulent — something the Maharaja would approve of.
The Maharaja suite is priced at Rs 7 lakh per night.