Rajasthan is a state in the northwest of India. It is mainly arid and its western border is adjacent to Pakistan. The main attraction for travellers is the vast Thar Desert and one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world, the Aravallis. The Rajput heritage, which is apparent in the forts, temples and palaces established by the Rajput Kings like Bappa Rawal, Rana Kumbha, Rana Sanga and Rana Pratap are starting points before exploring other hidden gems in the region.
One of the best restaurants in India.The prices are a little bit high but that’s worth it. It’s a very charming property with a mix of traditional and contemporary features.The servers are passionate about their hotel and their job. Seating is available inside and outside. Located at the Raas hotel; it’s one of MONTROI’s favorites in India with great views over the ancient fort. By night this is magically illuminated creating a truly memorable evening.
Tunwarji ka Jhalara, Makrana Mohalia, 342001 Jodhpur, +912912636455, send email, view website
Anokhi Café, is a refreshing change from the thousands of Indian restaurants in Rajasthan. They serve light healthy international cuisine and delicious desserts (no Indian food). It’s a breath of fresh air away from the stressful Jaipur environment.
It’s a great place to stop by for lunch or just a snack, with a good selection of teas, fresh juices and coffee. The interiors are calming with the soft natural light peeking through the hut-style roof. Most of their food is organic and locally grown, picked and served the same day so freshness is guaranteed. A slice of their food is a slice of comfort.
KK Square, C-11 Prithviraj Road, Jaipur 302005, +91 141 400 7244, view website
JAGMANDIR ISLAND PALACE
Jagmandir Island Palace is a heritage hotel built on Lake Pichola Island; this property belongs to Udaipur’s Maharaja. The 17th century old structure is frequently rented out for lavish events and celebrations. Its location gives it attractive views of the calm Lake Pichola and the City Palace complex. Their catering service prepares decent Indian food at a reasonable price. Visit the Darikhana restaurant at the Picholi bar, where they serve drinks or chill out in the well-kept gardens.
Jagmandir Island Palace, Udaipur 313001, +91 294 2424186, +91 294 2424188, send email, view website
The restaurant is the highest dining point in Jodhpur.They serve what’s known as a ‘royal’ barbecue and internationals grills . The entire food presentation is very unique as well, and the Palace is just amazing. Guests are taken to an upper deck in a 1940s elevator with carved wood interiors, and the journey continues through the Whispers Gallery, where the walls feature unique and never before seen images of the Royal Family.
Near circuit House, Jodhpur 342006, +91 291 25 10101, send email, view website
Off the normal tourist radar this is an amazing location with a top heritage. As such the historical site creates a special aura for diners and there are some great options of Indian and continental food. The personal touch makes a difference and it’s better to make an advance reservation to avoid disappointment. The owners have different properties in the area each with their own magic. Its walls reveal the history of the place and due to the revamp it not only features a restaurant but also a hotel and spa.
Samode Village, Tehsil Chomu, Jaipur, 303806, +911423240 014, send email, view website
Nestled in the Aravalli mountain region, this resort is identified by its brick red buildings juxtaposed against stretches of green grass. Upon entering guests are confronted by an eccentrically presented lobby, which is a vision in red. Its architecture is a blend of modern contemporary styles and traditional Indian design. The color scheme and furnishings have borrowed inspiration from Jantar Mantar, which is a collection of astronomical devices.
The key concept of the Lebua Resort was to implement the philosophy of Navaratna or ‘Nine Gems’; quite fitting since Jaipur is a gem-centric city. This is a more modest way of representing the city as a whole. Navaratna believes that the Nine Gems which are ruby, pearl, emerald, yellow sapphire, diamond, dessonite and Cat’s Eye, represent different planets and lunar nodes. All of which carry a significant meaning in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism, the four most predominant religions in India.
For traveling groups or families, the Lebua Resort villas are perfect; they have the much needed extra room and a private pool. Moreover, the service and is impeccable.
Jamdoli, Agra Rd, Tehsil Ballupura, Jaipur, 303012, +91 141 3050211, send email, view website
Thirty minutes away from Udaipur is the humble village of Delwara, a quaint little town where Muslims and Hindus live peacefully and Indian tradition flourishes. In the midst of this community is one of the best hotels in India, Devigarh Palace. It is a renovated palatial home of Delwara’s old royalty, thus the name ‘Devi Garh’ which loosely translates to ‘House of Devi’. It took over 15 years to restore the beautiful estate to its former glory and in the process, they have made it better.
Tradition plays an important role in Devigarh. After all, it is a heritage hotel. The staff dressed in traditional clothes and all facets of this hotel is homage to ancient Rajasthani architecture. There is an incredible room in the hotel where the Maharajah himself would sit and watch shows, the purpose of this room still remains and is for all guests to enjoy. It still possesses its charm, with traditional white furnishings. It’s the best area in the hotel to relax and have chai.
Furthermore, the hotel encourages visitors the explore Rajasthani culture by offering village tours to interested parties.
Delwara, NH8, Near Eklingji Udaipur, Rajsamand, +91 2953 289 211, send email, view website
Amanbagh is brimming with tourist activities within and out of the hotel’s walls. The natural beauty of its surroundings, called Ajabgarh, is remarkable. Amanbagh is situated inbetween these hills and the scenery is stunning beyond expectation. The car journey itself will yield plenty to see. It is approximately two hours away from the city of Jaipur, near Sariska National Park.
The hotel has a well-rounded variety of activities for their guest to not only relax but also satisfy their thirst for adventure. Morning yoga sessions can be arranged at any time while the gym is at guest’s disposal. In addition, there are plenty of walking and trekking paths to be discovered in Amanbagh. For those craving a bigger quest, a trip to the local village in some cool Indian Jeeps can be organized.
One in particular is the most popular – and most spooky. Legally declared ‘haunted’ by the Indian government, the Haunted Bhangarh Fort (also known as ‘The Ghost Town of Rajasthan’) is widely regarded to house very active spirits to this very day.
Legend has it that the city of Bhangarh was cursed by Baju Nath, who told the city to heed his words that “The moment the shadows of your palaces touch me, the city shall be no more!” An audacious man defied his command and built a palace that overshadowed Baju Nath’s fortress. As foretold, the city was then cast into darkness and Baju Nath’s remains are said to lie buried beneath.
Village Ajabgarh, District Alwar, 301027, +91 1465 223 333, send email, view website
TAJ LAKE PALACE
This hotel is literally a palace in the middle of Pichola Lake. A boat ride is required before reaching this white isle; a smooth journey through the glassy waters. Upon reaching the destination, guests are welcomed in a traditional fashion – showered with rose petals and sheltered with umbrellas by the friendly staff.
Inside the hotel is an impressive harmony of greenery and bodies of water, it is vibrant and peaceful. The rooms are decorated in a very regal manner with an Indian flair. Much of what goes on in the hotel happens outside on the lake. Understandable, as the views are something to be relished. The Maharajah of Udaipur still owns the palace, so it is made sure that the restaurants are exclusive to staying guests only.
Take a trip around the surrounding islands where the history of the area is immediately apparent. It’s dazzling to watch the sunset dip into the water on this enlightening tour.
The exquisite Raas Haveli Hotel appears like a masterpiece carved in rock. Jodhpur’s pioneer boutique hotel was founded by professional polo player, Nikhilendra Singh. This elevated 19th century fortress is a mirage in the middle of nowhere. Inside is a majestic secret city that can only be described as heaven on earth. Guests will feel far away from daily troubles, global qualms and civilization. The view from the top is unbeatably the best in India. Its award winning architecture combines sheer splendor and modernity that doesn’t lose sight of Indian culture.
There is a great bar where guests can relax by pool and watch the sunset. When the sun goes down and lights go on, Raas Haveli is illuminated like a gem on a hilltop. The service is exceptional and very friendly. Raas Haveli is reasonably priced for the cool and fashionable nomad.
Tunwar ji ka Jhalara, Makrana Mohalla, Jodhpur 342001, +91 291 2636455, send email, view website
TREE OF LIFE
The Tree of Life is a picturesque resort in Jaipur, regarded as one of the best hotels in Rajasthan. Famous for its spiritual and ethnic architecture, its winding stair paths, pools of lily pads and village-like atmosphere, are reminiscent of old Indian civilization. The Tree of Life offers the comfort of a private villa, where guests can have a private spa set up in the backyard. Furthermore, an infinity pool, bar, gym and other amenities are all available. The Tree of Life is the perfect place to recharge and indulge.
Kecharawala – Kukas, Jaipur 303101, +91 96 02 091000, send email, view website
Smack in the middle of nowhere, this is a secret heaven on earth. The grand fortress that is Mihir Garh is one of Rajasthan’s finest; it’s not for those who prefer action and commotion though. Mihir Garh is a remote resort where opulence and quiet relaxation are the focal points. It appears as a giant sandcastle rising from the Thar Desert, which gives it a fairytale aspect for the romantic visitor. This boutique hotel boasts lavish suites, a large infinity pool and an undisturbed view of the desert sunset. After all, Mihir Garh translates to ‘Fortress of the Sun’.
Village Khandi, Khandi Rajasthan, 306421, +91 85 11 35798, send email, view website
THE OBEROI AMARVILAS
Every sightseer’s checklist includes the Taj Mahal. The best vantage point to capture the beautiful view is the five-star Oberoi Hotel in Agra. It’s the ideal accommodation for the Taj Mahal visitor; one can simply look out and admire its splendour.
The interiors of the Oberoi are magnificent; lush green terraces, Hindu statues, fountains and integrated pool. The atmosphere is tangibly peaceful and every guest will sense that they are in the midst of pure luxury. It’s undoubtedly the best place to stay in Agra.
Taj East Gate Road, Agra, Uttar Pradesh 282001, +91 562 2231515, send email, view website
THE OBEROI RAJVILAS, JAIPUR
The Oberoi Rajvilas is a cozy hotel in Jaipur. This hotel embodies the authentic heritage of Rajasthan. Once inside, culture oozes from the surroundings; through the large royal portraits, geometric flooring, chestnut wooden furniture and strutting peacocks. It is a great place to retreat after a long day taking on the streets of Jaipur. Three lasting memories are their amazing swimming pool, modern comforts and accommodating staff.
Goner Rd, Paldi Meena, Jaipur, 302031, +91 141 268 0101, send email, view website
The Serai of Jaisalmer is a special, unforgettable experience. Completely integrated into the beautifully serene landscape, is this simple compound. Once outside one of their luxury tents, the great outdoors beckons. It’s simple, minimal but nonetheless magnificent. It’s an outdoor person’s dream without sacrificing indoor comforts. There is nothing like The Serai and it’s a must do experience. During the day the scenic horizons and blue skies provide ample inspiration, and at night, The Serai lights up from within, with romantic lanterns weaving a pathway through the resort.
Bherwa Village, Jaisalmer, Chandan, 345001, +91 11 4617 2700, send email, view website
Umaid Bhawan Palace located in Jodphur is the only palace left in India where the Maharajah’s family still resides. It is an estate of such enormity that part of it was made into an equally opulent hotel. It has acres of lush gardens and the best of Indian architecture. Every aspect of this hotel is on such an extravagant scale, that it almost feels like a sacred temple.
Truly made for the kings of India, it is the most beautiful hotel imaginable. It gives guests the royal treatment, owing to its modern luxuries, good food and well-trained hospitality. The old portraits in the conference room give a glimpse of the faces that once ruled Jodhpur.
Circuit House Rd, Jodhpur, 342006, +91 291 251 0101, send email, view website
Hidden between Jodhpur and Udaipur, near a timeworn village is Rawla Narlai. Its serene backyard is the towering rocky hills, lonely desert and Aravali Mountains. This 17th century villa is purely traditional, with its every nook and cranny embracing local heritage; even the doorman is dressed in authentic Rajasthani attire. The hotel’s spirit is utterly untainted by modernism and other influences – a rare feature that can’t be feigned. Rawla Narlai has a large pool with a tremendous view of its own of the surrounding natural scenery. Common activities to do around Rawla Narlai are horse riding, hill climbing and exploring the village. The Shiva Temple is carved into the nearby hill, as well as many other popular caves and temples that have been hollowed into it. Nearby attractions include the Ranakpur Temple and Kumal Gar fort. Rawla Narlai is the supreme Rajasthani experience and the city’s best kept secret.
Near Desuri, Narlai, 306703, +91 99 28 75 49 13, send email, view website
Perched on the edge of prime tiger spotting territory in Ranthambore national park , this elegant hotel has a very efficient and frendly staff. Their 10 luxe tents are a dream, their dining locations are a fairytale; truly marvellous in short. Special mention goes to the breakfast which is a unique experience. Safari has never been so chic.
Sherpur, Khiljipur, Ranthambore N. P., Sawaimadhopur, 322001, +91 2904 252777, send email, view website
Anopura deserves to remain a secret place… it’s surrounded by tranquil countryside with an attentive staff at one’s beck and call. After a stroll in the village, savouring the culinary delights made from fresh products (grown in the hotel’s garden) or dining in Jaipur which is less than an hour from Anopura are good option. The hotel will suggest numerous activities such as the observation of certain species of birds, a hike, a safari, camel train or a visit to local farms. An elephant ride is obligatory.
Village Anopura, Jaipur 303109, +91 70 7399 9778, send email, view website
Sher Bagh is really a MONTROI hotel. In the middle of nature, it’s very quiet, very pleasant and on the border of the national park of Ranthambore. From there a safari during the day is recommended, while a campfire in the moonlight is the perfect finale. Their tents are extremely comfortable while the restoration of the hotel has been tastefully done. Discreet, attentive staff remain at guests disposal.
Ranthambore Rd, Sherpur Khilchipur, Sawai Madhopur, Bamhor, 322001, +91 11 4617 2700, send email, view website
THE GEM PALACE
The Gem Palace of Jaipur are Rajasthan’s best when it comes to high quality precious stones that last a lifetime. It’s enjoyable perusing through their valuable collections, from traditional craftsmanship to contemporary designs. They have plenty of India’s most treasured jewels displayed in their illustrious boutique, some of which belonged to the Maharaja. So whether the visitor is just looking or willing to splash out on India’s finest gems, it will leave a lasting impression and is an amazing experience. Luckily, there are no large crowds as Gem Palace is not full of tourists.
MI Rd, Jaipur, Mirza Ismail Rd, Jayanti Market, New Colony, Jaipur 302001, +91 141 2374175, send email, view website
THE RAMBAGH PALACE SPA
The spa itself is gorgeous, while the treatments are transformative. As for the treatment rooms; they are gigantic, and comprise exquisitely decorated individual tent yurts. The tent room is covered with rose petals with an incredibly intense scent. It has really nice gardens where peacocks roam freely. It’s not a modern place but one where the flair and splendour of the Maharajah era is felt. This is not for those looking for the latest in technology or gadgets but for romantics who enjoy the quietness of a refreshing tea on a comfortable sofa overlooking the garden with a good book. As a hotel, and being an old palace, all rooms are different. One must be sure of booking a spacious one with a pleasant view.
Bhawani Singh Road, Rambagh Circle, Jaipur, 302005, +91 141 221 1919, send email, view website
The architecture of the gallery is magical and creates the mood of a dark and surprising Aladin’s treasure cave. This intimate architectural space best displays an important collection of jewerly, swords, ceremonial textiles, boards games, spectacles and gem- carved sculptures. Not to missed.
Onk Rd, G-1/21-23, Gems and Jewellery Zone, EPIP, Sitapura Industrial Area, Jaipur 302022, +91 141 510 2401, view website
PANNA MEENA KA KUND & CHAN BAORI
The architecture of the Panna Meena Ka Kund and its pond is very interesting. The Fortress and Amber’s palace is en route. A camera is required; it’s almost as if time stopped here. Chand Baori is a place similar but bigger than Meena Ka Kund. It shows the architectural strength of the past. Going early in the morning is recommended and there are not many tourists at that time.
Village of Abhaneri near Jaipur