Home to the maharajas, Jaipur was once dubbed the ‘pink city’, because of the buildings’ hues, painted under the order of Maharaja Ram Singh. This is the colour of hospitality, no coincidence, as the Rajasthani city is one of India’s most frequently visited metropolises. It’s popular with tourists for a number of reasons, but predominantly for significant sites including Hawa Mahal, the City Palace complex, Jal Mahal (aka the Lake Palace) and Jantar Mantar, an observatory and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Jaipur is often described as the Paris of India and provides a fascinating glimpse into the India of yesteryear.
The Oberoi Rajvilas
The extensive formal grounds surrounding this fort-like building (erected in 1727), provide a sense of calm, with lotus ponds, elegant sculptures and wandering peacocks. Yoga, meditation and locally-inspired treatments in the spa aid guests’ serenity, as do four-poster beds with cream drapes, sunken marble tubs and antique furnishings. Ideal for a romantic escape, the hotel has its own ancient Shiva temple for vow renewal ceremonies and the option to stay in a five-star tented room. And with a focus on timeless elegance, rather than technology, it’s a superb choice for those wanting to unwind and experience traditional Indian life in luxury.
Receive royal standard treatment when you check into the Rambagh Palace. Indeed the building was once inhabited by a maharajah and is unashamedly grand. 78 rooms come with hand-carved mahogany furnishings, high ceilings, detailed decoration, gilt touches, modern-day conveniences and personal butlers. Public areas outstrip the footprint of rooms, meaning it always feels spacious and refined. Facilities include a picture-perfect courtyard, croquet lawn, huge spa, yoga pavilion, a putting green, two restaurants, plus an eatery in a vintage steam train carriage, and indoor and outdoor pools. Attentive staff adorn guests with garlands, invite them to candle-lighting ceremonies and offer intricate henna tattoos.
Jai Mahal Palace
This 18th-century property used to be called home by prime ministers, before being carefully restored by the Taj Group. The main building has 102 bedrooms and is surrounded by 18 acres of beautiful Mughal gardens; within the manicured grounds is a large outdoor solar-heated swimming pool. Romantic private dining can be arranged, or guests can eat Royal Indian cuisine at Cinnamon, Italian food at Giardino and international dishes at Marble Arch. After dinner, the Marigold Bar is a sophisticated spot to enjoy a single malt and a cigar. The Jai Mahal Palace is in Civil Lines, close to the city’s shops and restaurants.
JW Marriott Jaipur Resort & Spa
A contemporary property that’s conveniently located for access to the airport, the JW Marriott in Jaipur has 374 bedrooms with picture windows. Cribs and rollaway beds can be requested, plus there’s a minibar, satellite TV and an iPod dock in every room. The hotel’s amenities include a full-service spa, an outdoor pool and a kids’ splash pool. Its signature restaurant, Okra, has won awards for its global menu, and guests can also sample authentic Indian cuisine at Saffron, or tuck into the freshly baked delicacies for sale at the in-house Jaipur Baking Company.