Have you ever sat and listened to friend prattle on about what a
Have you ever sat and listened to friend prattle on about what awonderful trip she just had, and thought she was exaggerating wildly? Or ever scoffed at a written account of a place because it sounds a little too perfect to be true? Well, stepping into the Jai Mahal Palace hotel in Jaipur, I felt like royalty or a blushing bride as I was greeted with a garland, tika and glass of champagne, all the while being serenaded by a ravanhatta (a Rajasthani instrument). The only thing missing was a red carpet rolled out all the way to my room. It was indeed already a start to exploring the beautiful places of Jaipur.
Speaking of red: my room was one of the newly refurbished luxury rooms, decorated in a red-and-white motif inspired by the rich red sandstone of Jaipur, and it was truly delightful. The moment I entered, I was surrounded by the scent of roses and by every possible amenity I could require, including an LCD TV. The highlights of the room were the peek-a-boo window between the bedroom and the bathroom, and the private sit-out that overlooks a beautiful Mughal garden.
I thought I had the best room in the hotel, until I saw its replica — this one decorated in brilliant shades of blue and white, echoing Jaipur’s renowned blue pottery. The carefully planned décor, part of the Taj Group’s recent renovation of this old property, reflects a meeting of contemporary India with old-world Rajasthan, and extends to the lobby. The old reception table and dark brown parquet floor have been replaced by more intimate reception counters with colorful furnishings that please the eye. The hotel has not yet upgraded its suites, haveli rooms and the gym, but these changes are on the cards.
I spent my mornings eating breakfast at Marble Arch, the coffee shop, listening to the mesmerizing sitar-and-tabla performance in the garden’s gazebo; my afternoons lazing by the pool, sightseeing in Jaipur or getting a massage at the spa. But my evenings, most glorious of all, were spent sipping wine at the Marigold Bar, sampling food at Giardino (the Italian restaurant) or the pan-Indian Cinnamon, watching whatever entertainment the hotel had magically conjured up.
Location: Jaipur, Rajasthan
Accommodation: 100 luxury rooms, suites and havelis
Tariff: Rs 10,800 (haveli), Rs 13,000 (luxury room without sit-out), Rs 15,000 (luxury room with sit-out), Rs 18,500 (suite)