The private hall is located off the central courtyard and terminates in the Mughal Suite. It is comprised of two distinct spaces: an initial enclosed hallway with doors leading to various storage rooms, and a second arcaded lanai facing a private garden and ending with a mobile jali (perforated marble screen) leading into the suite.
To complement the Indian aesthetics of the Mughal Suite commissioned by Doris Duke (1912–93) and her husband James Cromwell in 1935, the arcade was originally comprised of Mughal-style cusped arches supported by baluster columns. In 1941, Duke purchased a number of Spanish Islamic works of art from the collection of William Randolph Hearst, including a group of six marble columns (41.62.1–6) made during the Nasrid period (1232–1492). Soon thereafter, these columns replaced the Indian-style ones, the arches above were transformed to look more Spanish, and the roof was covered in green roof tiles made in Morocco. The installation of a medieval Spanish door (64.41) and a c. 1921 Spanish tile panel (48.78) inscribed “Ave Maria Gracia Plena Dominus Tecum” completed the transformation from Indian to Spanish Mediterranean.
Standing within the arcade looking out, a beautiful small garden with a waterfall and koi pond is visible. The waterfall creates a soothing bubbling sound that can be heard from within the bathroom of the Mughal Suite. Looking back at the arcade from within the garden, one is reminded of the arcades found throughout medieval Spanish palaces, such as the Alhambra (mainly c. 1350–1400) in Granada.
The enclosed hallway as it appears today is predominately a product of the late 1970s. During this time, Doris Duke purchased a number of late-Ottoman (c. 1800) Syrian architectural elements from New York University’s Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies. While the majority of this painted and gilded wood, carved stonework, marble paneling, and inlaid pastework was installed in the Syrian Room to recreate an elite reception room known as a qa‘a (Arabic: hall), space constraints resulted in the dispersal of other elements throughout the property. The most cohesive installation is in the enclosed section of the private hall, where pastework and stonework arches (78.8), spandrels, and roundels frame a total of five doorways, and marble tiles comprise the floor (41.60). The three wood doors (64.40) on the left and right sides of the space are also likely Syrian. Their geometric surfaces of stars, pentagons, diamonds and rectangles inlaid with bone—and often framed by calligraphy (beautiful writing) above and below—are typical of late-Ottoman Syrian elite homes.