Stately stays: Rajasthan’s greatest haveli accommodations

Palaces and forts are in no brief provide in Rajasthan – dubbed India’s ‘Land of Kings’ after the times when rival dynasties dominated every of the state’s main cities. At the moment, you possibly can trawl the honeycomb halls of Jaipur’s Palace of the Winds, survey the Thar desert from the purple sandstone ramparts of Jaisalmer Fort and sail previous the white marble pleasure palaces of erstwhile Mewar princes on Lake Pichola, Udaipur.

It’s sufficient to offer you delusions of grandeur. So, with regards to laying your head down after a day’s sightseeing, no unusual dwellings will do. Head to one of many many havelis – lavishly-decorated non-public mansions constructed by rich retailers or Rajput royals – which were reincarnated as boutique accommodations.


Hilltop haven

Bujera Fort exterior

Laborious to imagine Bujera Fort isn’t a centuries-old royal palace, however reasonably the next-level retirement undertaking of an English chap that dates from, erm, 2015. Richard Hanlon snapped up a scrubby plot 5 miles exterior Udaipur and labored with a neighborhood architect and craftsmen to understand this imaginative and prescient of cloistered courtyards, marble-decked suites and onion-domed rooftops.

Testomony to his skills in inside design and vintage sourcing (he beforehand labored for each Package Kemp and Sotheby’s), a riotous mixture of Indian and Anglo décor fills the rooms. Peep by way of the reclaimed doorways and home windows to see chintz upholstery, Staffordshire bone china and a grand piano rubbing shoulders with block-printed cotton quilts, silver-inlay furnishings and Persian carpets.

The vibe is eclectic nation house by means of the bazaar. Mealtimes provide a equally profitable fusion, because the kitchen staff whips up healthful River Café recipes (cauliflower cheese, fruit crumbles) utilizing produce from the lodge’s personal veg plot.

Though Udaipur, referred to as the Venice of the East for its watery magnificence, is simply a 20-minute taxi journey away, it might show difficult to prise your self away from Bujera Fort’s Edenic gardens.

I spend most of my keep studying on the garden beneath one of many embroidered parasols, surrounded by mango and citrus bushes, surveying the hillsides for any signal of the leopards who apparently prowl the encompassing Aravelli Hills (the one creature I encounter is the affectionate resident labrador, Sadie) and undoing the muscle knots from India’s notoriously lengthy practice journeys with an Ayurvedic therapeutic massage and poolside yoga classes.

After darkish, when the temperature drops, friends collect across the roaring bonfire for G&Ts and return to discover a hot-water bottle has been slipped beneath the covers of 1’s stately four-poster mattress.


The city aristo

Rooftop bar at Raas Jodhpur in India with mountain views

Proper within the coronary heart of Jodhpur’s outdated city, native brothers Nikhilendra and Dhananajaya Singh give a masterclass in the best way to convert a storied haveli into stylish pied-a-terre: Raas Jodhpur. Search for delicate up to date interventions just like the Le Corbusier-esque white extension peeping above 18th century partitions. Hand-cut fretwork screens, referred to as jali, forged patterned shadows on cool stone passageways. Archways salvaged from the outdated stables that stand alongside the swimming pool.

Regardless of the interiors getting high marks, you’ll be excused for getting distracted by that view. This 39-room bolthole has an unrivalled vantage level of Mehrangarh – ‘a palace which may have been constructed by Titans and colored by the morning solar’ as Rudyard Kipling remarked. It means ‘fortress of the solar’ in Sanskrit and the towering clifftop complicated definitely is a blinding sight.

Arguably, although, it’s even higher at night time, when the looming ramparts are illuminated and a selection of spicy dishes is served up on the lodge’s al fresco restaurant, Darikhana. If you happen to just like the reduce of Raas Jodhpur’s jib, keep in mind they’ve a sister lodge simply exterior Udaipur and tented camp deep in rural Rajasthan.


Sand(stone) fortress

If Disney did Medieval Indian citadels, they’d in all probability seem like Jaisalmer – all spice-scented bazaars and twinkling jewellers’ workshops inside an 800-year-old, 99-bastioned shell that rises above the dunes.

Like Bujera Fort, Suryagarh occupies a tranquil perch simply exterior of city (a 30-minute drive, to be exact), which means it’s not confined to the Golden Metropolis’s labyrinthine lanes however as an alternative sprawls over manicured grounds the place peacocks strut round ponds and charcoal-fired feasts are laid out beneath the celebs. Archery workshops, yoga courses and Manganiyar people music performances happen within the gardens, too.

With rooms decked in dusty neutrals, décor nods to the desert setting. As does the blissful sand ritual therapy within the lodge spa, which seems to be precisely what the muscle tissue require after a camel-riding tour (clinging to those ill-tempered steads tends to work some underused muscle teams).


Bazaar bolthole

Bowls of marigolds bid a sunny welcome to the Johri: a five-suite city sanctuary. Nestled inside Jaipur’s jewelry market, the haveli’s historical past may be very a lot intertwined with town’s gemstone commerce – constructed by the Kasliwal household, who saved Jaipur’s maharajahs decked in bling again within the nineteenth century and run town’s famed emporium Gem Palace.

Nonetheless below their possession, it’s gained rave critiques from Vogue India and The New York Instances since turning into a lodge in December 2020. Largely, that’s because of impressed inside design by Naina Shah – the New York-based couture embroidery queen, with Alexander McQueen and Gucci on her shopper checklist – which manages to be each resolutely Rajasthani and winningly Wes Anderson. We’re speaking candy-striped upholstery and intelligent pastel colour-blocking meets classic pichwai work of Hindu deities and a set of chairs carved to resemble tigers.

Every suite is devoted to a unique gemstone and painted in corresponding hues – it’s only a matter of deciding whether or not the sapphires (the powder-blue Neelam suite), rubies (Manak) or pearls (Moti) are extra your model. Downstairs, leopards and flamingos strut throughout the partitions of the Pukhraj Lounge, the place Jaipur’s most trendy residents maintain courtroom over equally photogenic cocktails, just like the amber-hued, marigold honey-infused gin Epiphany.

And lest you overlook the property’s glittering pedigree, the identify Johri means ‘jeweller’ in Hindi.

Proceed the grand tour with our full assortment of Rajasthan hotels

Estella Shardlow is a contract journey author and editor whose work has appeared in The InstancesSuitcaseThe Telegraph, Meals & Journey and extra.