Hotel Hari Niwas Palace became is of my favourite hotels to stay in Jammu. Located at one of the most beautiful locations, Hari Niwas Palace is a grand heritage hotel that boasts of its royal past. The royal setting of this art-deco structure features wide hallways, beautiful marble floors, green lawns and antique décor. Spread over an area of 50-acres, the palace complex also houses the splendid Amar Mahal Palace.
Hari Niwas Palace was built in the late 20th century by the last King of Jammu & Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh. He spent the last days of his stay in Jammu in this palace before moving to Mumbai. The estate was converted into a Heritage Hotel in 1990 by his descendants and is named after him. The property still oozes a royal charm and old age traditional vibes.
Location is one of the best-selling points of Hari Niwas Palace. Overlooking the Tawi river on one side and Trikuta Hills on the other, it offers spectacular views of the valley. Moreover, its well-maintained green lawns and manicured gardens with a variety of flowers give you a feel of serene nature without losing the touch of the city.
As you pass by the entrance of the hotel and step in the reception area, you will start feeling the royal vibes around you. The entrance is decorated with brass cannons and the lobby walls are adorned with huge pictures of the Kings and their weapons. The seating area has a Victorian sofa where you can wait for your check-in formalities or if you have arrived way before your check-in time. The staff was courteous enough not to make us wait at the reception for check-in. We were ushered into our Royal Deluxe room after a small entry in their guest register. The check-in form was sent to our room along with the welcome drink and I really loved that gesture. Small things make a big difference at times.
Hari Niwas Palace houses 40 clean and luxurious rooms with high ceilings and amazing views. The rooms are divided into Deluxe and Royal Deluxe category. The Royal Deluxe category include Rajmata, Maharaja, Maharani, Yuvraj and Rajkumari suites. All rooms are spacious and well-ventilated with adequate natural light (which you can block with the curtains of course). Looking at the grandeur of Hari Niwas Palace, you can very well guess that the King never had issues with space – everything here is grand and spacious. Rooms on the first floor have a connected balcony with a panoramic view of the river valley and the mountains. There are garden view and Palace view rooms as well. All these views have a charm of their own, however, opting for valley view room is highly recommended. The rooms on the ground floor have a connected hallway. All rooms are tastefully decorated with Victorian furniture and antiquities on the walls.
They are equipped with all modern amenities – air-condition, satellite flat screen TV, direct dial phone facility, Tea/coffee maker, complimentary bottled water, comfortable bed, complimentary toiletries, shower, hot and cold water facilities etc. There’s a minibar as well that they fill on request.
We made our booking online and opted for the Deluxe room. However, as a gesture of goodwill, the staff upgraded our room to the Royal Deluxe. The room was on the ground floor facing the lush green garden and breathtaking views of the valley. Our spacious room was also connected to an additional small room with one bed. This is beneficial when you are travelling with children or more family members/ friends.
The hotel offers in-room dining service from their Nilaya restaurant. Nilaya is a multi-cuisine restaurant and its menu includes a wide range of Indian, Oriental and Continental cuisines. Jammu is a city native to Dogras and a unique Dogri menu from their royal kitchen is a must-try. You can also walk down to the restaurant and enjoy your meal there.
Another option is Samovar – a coffee shop in the lobby area that serves à-la-carte dishes throughout the day along with the incredible valley views. There is a Garden Restaurant that serves Indian, Western and Arabic barbeques. The Polo Bar located to the North-East Side on the Ground Floor offers a wide range of spirits, fine wine and cigars. Outside liquor is not allowed in the hotel. Watching a sunset and sunrise from the lawn of the hotel is highly recommended.
Dinner with a View
If you are staying in Hari Niwas Palace, or you have just come to visit the historical Amar Mahal Palace which lies within the same premises, relishing a dinner in the lawn of the hotel is highly recommended. Take a seat in the garden overlooking the Tawi river and enjoy the ultimate glittering night view of Mata Vaishno Devi shrine on Trikuta Hills. Snacks, liquor, main course and desserts – everything is served right on your table while you enjoy the amazing views, soft background music and sometimes the cool breeze coming from the valley.
No wonder the king of Jammu & Kashmir selected the best place in the city for his residence. While seated in the garden with my drink in hand, I thought how amazing it must have been for the king to enjoy these views every evening.
We woke up to a beautiful view and after a refreshing shower, we were all set to enjoy their complimentary breakfast. Hotel guests can enjoy a complimentary breakfast every morning with a choice of pre-set and à-la-carte menu. In-room breakfast option was also available, but we preferred walking down to the restaurant. We wanted to explore more of this beautiful hotel and its surroundings. The restaurant Nilaya was delightfully decorated with Victorian dining furniture. Breakfast was average with very limited choices. However, it was enough to suffice our Indian Palate. We opted for some fruits (Papaya and Watermelon), vegetable omelette and aloo paranthas with extra butter (sometimes I prefer not calculating calories on my travels 😉 ) Choices of beverages included tea, coffee, juices, infused water (lemon, mint & Cucumber) and normal water.
The staff of Hari Niwas Palace quite courteous, professional and friendly. We were pampered with excellent service and great hospitality.
Point To Be Considered
Since the lawn and the nearby garden areas are also used for banquet services, you can expect some disturbance during the wedding season. During our stay in the hotel, the lawn was booked for a ring-ceremony lunch. It was filled with people and the DJ was a little loud (not that it pops your ears as there is hallway and the glass windows separating the venue). Although we loved looking at the ceremony from the glass window and we also enjoyed the music played on the DJ, this may not be everyone’s cup of tea. We also saw many other hotel guests, especially the foreigners enjoying these ceremonies – quite a cultural experience for them. But, if you are looking for just serenity and if you’re not the type of person who would enjoy such unexpected experiences, avoid booking the hotel in peak wedding season.
Other amenities at the hotel include huge parking space, free self and valet parking, free wi-fi in rooms and in public areas, 24-hour front desk, 24-hour room service, elevator lift, public restrooms, dry cleaning service for guests, meeting rooms for business, daily housekeeping, free newspapers, free local calls, doctor on call etc. There was an under-construction Spa and Swimming pool as well. Hopefully, on my next visit I’ll be able to avail that facility.
Pets are not allowed in Hari Niwas Palace. The hotel accepts cash, Visa and Mastercards. Liquor from outside is not allowed, however, the hotel serves liquor in room, Polo Bar and dining areas. Check-in Time is 12:30 and checkout is at 12:00 noon. Minimum check-in age is 18 years. A government recognized identity proof is required for check-in.
How to Get There
Hari Niwas Palace is 9.2 Kms from Jammu airport. You can hire a taxi or travel in local matador service and reach here in about 20 to 25 mins from the airport.
Overall, Hotel Hari Niwas Palace is a combination of royalty, luxury, rejuvenation and delectable cuisines. Considering it’s a 5-star property, the hotel is much affordable. We booked it for around 5000 INR per night. I made a last-minute booking, two hours prior to the check-in time. If you book it way in advance, the price may be as low as 3500 INR per night depending upon the season and availability. The hotel shares the same grounds with Amar Mahal Palace, a royal museum you should not miss on your trip to Jammu.