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The Maharaja Suite at the Taj Mahal hotel, Delhi, celebrates Air India’s homecoming


The living room at the Maharaja Suite, with an enclosed balcony lounge
| Photo Credit: Anshuman Sen / Taj Mahal, New Delhi

Plunge pools in the room and hot tubs in the wilderness — the concept of a hotel suite has certainly metamorphosed from being the largest room on offer at the property. Newer properties have pushed the limits with these experiences when designing rooms, while some of the older hotels with space constraints are re-imagining what they can do within their four walls. The newly revamped Maharaja Suite at Taj Mahal Hotel in New Delhi is the latest to join this club. Here, the iconic mascot — the Maharaja of Air India — and the heydays of travel by this pioneering airline have been worked into the design brief. It also celebrates the new future of the airline as it returns to the Tata group after being a government-owned enterprise for 69 years.

Bobby Mukherji, who designed it, says that the entire Maharaja Suite is a modern interpretation of what might have been the boudoir of the ‘Maharaja’. The well-travelled Maharaja with his distinctive handlebar moustache has been depicted in advertising campaigns as someone enjoying the beach with a mermaid in Sydney, visiting museums in London, skiing in Europe and sampling a plate of spaghetti in Rome. The suite that has been designed is a nod to the mascot’s naughty and witty character. Created by the inimitable Bobby Kooka in 1946, this ‘Maharaja’, he had explained, was called “a Maharaja for want of a better description. But his blood isn’t blue. He may look like royalty, but he isn’t royal”.

The master bedroom 

The master bedroom 
| Photo Credit:
Anshuman Sen / Taj Mahal, New Delhi

The study in the Maharaja Suite

The study in the Maharaja Suite
| Photo Credit:
Anshuman Sen / Taj Mahal, New Delhi

Details of the study

Details of the study
| Photo Credit:
Anshuman Sen / Taj Mahal, New Delhi

That’s why what sets this suite (at ₹7 lakh approx. a night) apart is not the opulence that you would associate with a maharaja from the past, but modern luxury informed by an irrepressible sense of adventure. Once you enter the lacquer finish double doors in fire-engine red, the space is a riot of colour and whimsy. An enclosed balcony lounge, a dining area and the master bedroom overlooking the treetops of Lutyen’s Delhi will account for its popularity among the jet set. But it’s the little details — the suede fabric panelling on the ceilings inspired by vintage luxury aircraft, the study with sepia-toned photos of the founder of the airline, JRD Tata, and a vintage Air India poster — that will appeal to aviation buffs.

As seen at another popular Maharaja suite in the capital, at The Leela Palace, Taj’s Maharaja Suite comes with the liberal use of glass, mirrors and polished patterned marble. But the airline-styled windows and the bespoke wallpaper from across the suite that depict scenes from ancient India will leave guests in no doubt of the legacy of the country’s first airline. There is an easy pairing of the old and new in the interiors, where contemporary furniture and a home theatre with a 65-inch television meet retro leather trunk side tables and classic decorative lights.

The Maharaja’s distinctive handlebar moustache is a design element 

The Maharaja’s distinctive handlebar moustache is a design element 
| Photo Credit:
Anshuman Sen / Taj Mahal, New Delhi

Bespoke wallpaper, with a red fabric ceiling

Bespoke wallpaper, with a red fabric ceiling
| Photo Credit:
Anshuman Sen / Taj Mahal, New Delhi

Mukherji says he has strong memories of the advertising campaign leading to the Maharaja becoming the most recognisable mascot in India and abroad and wanted to ensure this came through in the design. “The Maharaja had a distinct personality. He was a hodophile — a high-flier with an extravagant lifestyle, even flirtatious and quirky,” he explains. It is to this designer’s credit that the elements of a colourful personality, with outsized moustache and red and yellow attire, have translated well into luxe suite décor.

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