Travel & Life
Discovering The Cities of Palaces
A few months ago, we experienced two distinguished properties in two distinguished cities- one in Udaipur and one in Jodhpur. Even though the pictures do absolutely no justice to either of the places, let’s try and take you through the magic that was one portion boutique and two portions luxury.
Rawla Narlai, a two and a half hour drive away from the Udaipur airport, is a boutique heritage hotel that made for the first leg of the Rajasthani journey. It maintains it’s old-world charm and exclusivity with a limited 30-40 rooms, set in the heart of a small town called Narlai.
What could make this exquisite, boutique experience more exquisite than having the opportunity of spotting Leopards on an evening safari? It is one big reason to visit- you don’t see leopards very often, do you? What’s more is that the lovely staff at Rawla Narlai even arranged a tea table on a little hill for us right after they completed their safari. It’s almost like they reward their guests for enjoying the experiences they offer! With a view like that and tea that good, we were sure to stay there much longer than we intended.
Style Tip (Shereen): Pair a comfy pair of jeans with a basic shirt and add some oxidised jewellery to truly get into Maharani character.
When you live in a place as culturally rich as Rawla Narlai, you should definitely take to some nosing around and the staff is always happy to oblige. Going around the boutique property was of course, a lovely experience but what took the medal was the Queen’s room. This room remains untouched for the most part (other than the bathroom, which has been been transformed into an super luxurious space, mind you) maintaining the authenticity of the property. It only reminds you how few these experiences are and that you too, can feel like a queen.
With a pair of binoculars and magnificent opportunity for birdwatching, the lakeside high tea is an unforgettable experience for anyone who is looking for a moment of peace and quiet. Absolute silence, interrupted by the occasionally sweet cooing of the winged friends and a still lake as the view is all you need to unwind the busy mind.
Style Tip (Trishala): Slide into an airy, maxi cotton kurta paired with boyfriend jeans for the quintessential fusion outfit.
As the resident royal regales you with stories of the past, you are prepared with traditional turbans and scarves to witness authentic Rajasthani hospitality. A bullock cart ride is arranged for the guests who’d like to see the village slowly going to sleep, to be dropped off at a 16th century step-well, lit with candles, prepared as your own dining room. Now that’s an upgrade you couldn’t imagine! As Rajasthani women cook traditional meals for you and performers put up a show, you start to imagine how it could get any better than this.
Like all good things, this leg of the journey too came to an end, but the memories of which we will always have. It was time to drive down to Jodhpur to experience the first heritage hotel in India, Ajit Bhawan. With it’s massive space, and rooms to tickle your luxury-buds, Ajit Bhawan maintains it’s authenticity with a sprinkle of the day.
You see, if you’re a high paying guest, you will most definitely be treated like royalty, by the royalty themselves! A few guests are given exclusive access to the living room of the resident royal family that still lives on the property. For the curious mind, the entry book in the dining room has entries that date back to the 1930’s- in case you want to know who ate in the same seat as you!
If you’re a car-lover or enjoy anything vintage, Ajit Bhawan has just the experience for you. They offer guests a kilometre of a drive around the property, in one of the many vintage cars they keep. Again, not something you’ll get to do everyday, is it?
During our tour of the property, a particular room came across as never-seen-before striking! We don’t remember too well what the technical name was but “Warrior Room” should do it if you want to ask the manager. We, for one, don’t mind sleeping amidst old-world ammunition and weapons!
A very different, yet similar experience to the high tea by the lake, is the high tea on the sand dunes. The serenity and calm of something as engulfing as the desert is something you can never un-see, nor have the opportunity to see many times. Ajit Bhawan pays attention to the finest detail and makes sure they don’t miss out on anything a guest may want to experience.