The best-selling author and a former politician, shares his travelling experiences and his love for art
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OT: First visited?
Anjolie Ela Menon: I first went there on a hot summer’s day in 1991. I was sitting on the ramparts when an aandhi approached at great speed across the vast plain below. Peacock cries rent the indigo air as the dust storm hit bringing an icy shower of rain.
OT: The experience?
Anjolie Ela Menon: From that first magical moment I have watched Neemrana attaining all the luxuries of a big hotel without compromising on its authentic charm. Each room is a surprise, decorated with refined taste and simplicity. But evenings were special. Folk singers serenaded us while we dined in the open, fresh air of exquisite courtyards. There was no light other than that of the stars above and of the candles with their trembling flames.
OT: The food?
Anjolie Ela Menon: No enormous buffets, no complicated choices. But each day offered a different selection of Indian and Continental cuisine. Often I have found a French chef in residence to train the cooks in some exotic cuisine to augment the staple fare. During the tea hour, we would assemble on the terrace and wait for cookies to be served fresh and warm from the oven. I celebrated my 60th birthday there — the hotel laid a six-course sit-down banquet for 40 people as the grand finale to a four-day festivity.
OT: The USP?
Anjolie Ela Menon: Neemrana hotels span the whole country, rescuing old houses and palaces from ruin. However, what I admire most is the absence of black-suited, hotel-management-type professionals. Instead, the hotels are manned by local help who have been trained to cook and serve guests in a gentle, personalised Indian way — such a relief from all those cookie-cutter hotels.
Location Village Neemrana, Delhi-Jaipur Highway, Dist. Alwar, Rajasthan
Accommodation 14 suites, 30 doubles, 4 singles
Tariff Rs 1,500-9500 (one suite Rs 18,000)
Contact 01494-246006, 246007, 246008, www.neemranahotels.com
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