Sitting on the wide, well-tended lawns of Arya Niwas in central Jaipur and drinking our filter coffee, we fed a friendly hungry little cat milk in a saucer. After a hot tiring day, we had been greeted courteously at the reception and agreed to pay Rs 930 for a deluxe room with an extra bed. We had showered in the clean, spacious bathrooms and dried ourselves with clean, large towels. I had fed my daughter palatable, unspicy food in the inexpensive cafeteria, put her to bed in a cool, large room and was now having an epiphanic moment that few travellers asked for more.
Arya Niwas is that rare thing: a value-for-money hotel. And it’s charming. It doesn’t bother selling itself as a heritage hotel of jaipur — although it is, actually, having been built around a century-old haveli. Its lack of aesthetic clarity — lots of white-and-grey marble, mismatched furniture but plenty of courtyards with plants and corridors with old tiles — is oddly appealing. Its charm lies in a bunch of unassociated facts — that, in touristy Rajasthan, it’s as welcoming towards Indians as foreigners. That some guests stay for months on end. That its ‘gift shop’ actually has things worth buying. That the hotel likes cats, dogs and children. That it’s so well run. Managers of bigger, plusher hotels, please visit Arya Niwas: they have things to teach you. Middle-class holidayers, stay at Arya Niwas: you’ll get your money’s worth.
Where: Sansar Chandra Road, Jaipur
Accommodation: 60 doubles, 30 singles
Tariff: Rs 1000-2000
Contact: +91 9829040549, www.aryaniwas.com