This hotel just outside Jaipur, with red-brick architecture reminiscent of a Rajasthani fort, boasts stylish tented rooms, Mughal-inspired trellises, courtyard fountains, superb cuisine, wandering peacocks on the 32-acre grounds and staff who anticipate your requests before you even vocalise them.
Just outside Jaipur city. This hotel is great for jetlagged travellers who want a little respite before exploring Rajasthan. Its location diminshes traffic, noise and pollution so that all you hear are the sounds of Asian koels and temple bells.
Rajvilas exudes Rajasthani exuberance while somehow managing to keep it from going over the top. It looks like a sprawling desert fort built by a meticulous Singapore design firm, which, in fact, it was. There are the typical floral designs and arches punctuated with lotus ponds lined with handmade Jaipur tiles in jewel tones. Sandstone sculptures stare at peacocks and lapwings. There are overlays and inlaid marble floors that blend together without appearing garish or overwhelming.
The staff, led by charming general manager Abhishek Sharma, are adept at making guests feel special. The ancient temple in the middle of the property allows interested guests to engage in a “renewal of vows” ceremony. The spa offers an unusual chakra-balancing Himalayan stones massage. Daily yoga and meditation are available at 7.30am. The concierge can arrange shopping and sightseeing trips and also more unusual expeditions including a trip to Naila Fort, the Oberoi home where tea and cookies are served in the courtyard and an elephant safari is organised on request.
If you can, persuade the staff to send you to the old fort, which was the first site of the hotel. They will pack you a tea service and send you on a private picnic to the first property that the Oberoi group picked up in Rajasthan.
Even the most basic of the four categories of room (72 in total) are spacious enough. The feel is old-fashioned, like an English cottage with actual brass keys and a walk-in closet. Courtyards in front of room clusters have fountains and floral trellises where parakeets and bulbuls come to screech and sing. Bathrooms contain fragrant toiletries perfumed with lime, holy basil and narangi (an Indian citrus). There is a bathtub and separate shower along with two sinks.
Amenities include a safe and minibar, but no Nespresso machine, buttons that open or close blinds, or docking devices. Instead, there are awnings and a bay window to sit and watch the butterflies outside.
One restaurant, the Surya Mahal, serves all the meals: a boon or a bane depending on whether you like multiple dining outlets. The kitchen prepares everything ranging from Indian and Chinese to Italian, salads and sushi. The breakfast country eggs are light and fluffy. Healthy local fruits like Indian gooseberry are mixed into juices and smoothies. Dinner is accompanied by music and dance in the open courtyard. Both food and service are superb.
The Salt Grill, which is only open for dinner, has alfresco cabana seating by the pool. Meats like tandoori chicken and New Zealand lamb chops are grilled on pink Himalayan salt slabs. Vegetarian options include a good cauliflower bisque, deconstructed greek salad and fragrant basmati rice.
Ministry of Food is the all-day dining restaurant. It serves themed buffets during different days of the week including Pan-Asian, European and Indian counters. The well-priced Saturday and Sunday brunch attracts locals. Re:cess is the coffee and pastry shop for a quick burger or sandwich on the go.
The breakfast buffet includes Asian, continental and Indian dishes, along with some excellent south Indian coffee made from arabica and robusta beans. The mixlogists at Klinx are young and enthusiastic, experimenting with galangal and curry leaves in their drinks, which are wheeled around on a drinks trolley.
Double rooms from 26,400 Indian Rupees (£320) in low season; and from 72,400 Indian Rupees (£880) in high. Breakfast included. Free Wi-Fi.
Access for guests with disabilities?
The resort is equipped with golf carts, wheelchairs and ramps at multiple locations, and there is one adapted room.
The hotel makes a great base for a family trip to Rajasthan. There are interconnecting adjacent bedrooms, special menus, cots and extra beds, a children’s play area and a number of activities to keep kids busy. Most draw from Rajasthan’s heritage and culture and include kite flying, block printing, puppet making, and pottery as well as the usual mini golf, board games, treasure hunt, painting and films. Babysitters and guides to take guests shopping or sightseeing can also be arranged.
Goner Rd, Jagdish Colony, Paldi Meena, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India.
Shoba Narayan is an author, journalist and columnist. Besides writing, she is interested in nature, wine, gadgets and Sanskrit. Her lifelong mission is to get fit without exercising and lose weight without dieting.