My phone is ringing off the hook. I grumble and mutter to myself, mentally making a long
My phone is ringing off the hook. I grumble and mutter to myself, mentally making a longlist of things to do over the next week. ‘The sound of this bee is too loud,’ I complain about the present, while I toy with unimportant thoughts from five years past.
Out of nowhere, a small champa flower drops on to my lap. I look up from the screen and look around to see that I’m next to a pool, on a recliner chair and under the sun. I close my to-do list, smiling and close my eyes. Nothing should come in the way of this.
At Jaipur’s Royal Heritage Hotel by Niraamaya Retreats, there are many small reminders such as these, asking you to slow down and pause. These could be found under the large Kigelia tree, in between the archways, on the green lawns, or like with me, with these meaningful white flowers.
Owned by the royal family of Jaipur, the Royal Heritage Hotel has, in its own inanimate way, seen life through its 300-year history. It has been a family home, a hunting lodge, a school and on one occasion, an army supplies storage room—not in chronological order.
The hotel is run by Angelique and Pradip Singh (and now managed by Niraamaya) and is a consequence of years of both building from scratch and restoration. There are 19 suites, each tastefully done in Indo-European décor, but with a twist. Instead of on the wall, there are intricate frescoes on the ceiling, making the process of getting out of bed a lot more difficult. And in place of tiles on the bathroom walls, they’ve been put on the floor, leaving the walls in most cases, a blank white sheet.
These suites usually come fitted with a reading nook, or a sit-out balcony, a writing desk and a dilemma asking one to choose between a stocked mini fridge (usually unhealthy) and a kettle for green tea (definitely healthy). Each room has its own colour scheme—some marigold in hue, another a pretty pink, while another may be washed a light turquoise blue from head to toe.
The most sought after suite, however, is room 104, also informally known as the Blue Room. It has an imposing door with a brass wooden knocker, and a stunning indigo-coloured theme through the space. It is also one of the grandest suites in the hotel, perhaps, owing to the fact that it was the private zenana, where the unmarried women would stay in earlier times.
There are different categories for rooms—the classic suite, superior suites, premium suites, and the royal signature suite.
If you’re looking for a food itinerary, it should go something like this:
Start off your day at Kigelia, where breakfast awaits. The options spread over homestyle paranthas to fancier Eggs Benedict (or Florentine, for the vegetarians). Lunch and dinner, too can be taken in the outside balcony, with a traditional Rajasthani fare. We highly recommend trying the papad ki chutney, which can actually be eaten as main dish rather than just an accompaniment. Their specialities also include the narangi (tangerine-flavoured) mutton and laal maas.
The recently opened Café Samsara, which is also open to visitors, is a beautiful cafe serving light snacks and salads.Settle in here for an evening tea (or coffee hot off the French press), a snack and have a piece, or three, of the honey peanut pies.
End the day with drinks at Mehrab, the regal bar at RHH. The cocktails, including the watermelon martini (ask for the gin version) each have an extra something to them. If conversation fails, the family beagles, Muffin and Zoya, will be there to keep you company.
Although it is the place for R&R, there’s still plenty to do in the property itself. Take a leisurely lap in the pool, walk barefoot on the lawns or take an impromptu cooking lesson to learn heirloom recipes from the family.
There’s even a croquet lawn right next to the swimming pool, thankfully with none of the ‘off with their heads’ paraphernalia. Shambhavi, one of the owners’ daughters helped us go horse-riding on Marwari horses in the property. These beautiful horses, which were once used as war horses, are indigenous to the region of Rajasthan. After we trotted on Kajri and Sita, we fed the horses gur and carrots, and learnt a rule of thumb: keep your fingers straight, lest you want the horses to think of them as more carrots.
The experience we’re most likely to look back and remember, though, is the spa, which has been recently taken over by Niraamaya. We indulged in a Kerala-style ayuvedic spa here, and made no claims to battle with sleep. One can pick between aromatherapy and ayurvedic spa treatments here.
On looking back, it is our hosts, Angelique and Pradip, who added a lot to the experience. At every dinner, they would come by and stop at the guests’ tables simply to enquire how their day is going, or recommend something to eat. Their daughters, Shambhavi and Shivangni, too, do their rounds around the property , often making one feel that they aren’t at a hotel but at a warm family dinner. Mealtime conversations with them are a flurry between discussions on food, wearing pin less chiffon saris (yes, it is an art) and royal anecdotes.
We realise, with attention to details such as a comfortable kaftan dressing gown, the pretty underside of a swaying pool umbrella and a thoughtfully laid out chocolate as nightcap—over here, it’s all in the little things.
The Royal Heritage Haveli is located in the Khatipura district on the periphery of Jaipur, making it a 30-minute-drive from the main city.
Rs 6,000 for the Heritage classic suite and up to Rs 15,000 for the royal signature suite