Luxury Escape Jaipur India – Shop Eat Visit
There are some places I visit that don’t live up to the hype. Thankfully they tend to be in the minority.
I seem to find a silk purse in even a sows ear…
There are other trips which far surpass any expectations, this was how I found India.
Jaipur was the third stop in our 10 day whirlwind of Rajasthan – we arrived as the ‘Pink City‘ walls turned salmon – age old, ornate buildings casting shadows in the twilight.
In March the weather was perfect. Warm days with no humidity, balmy comfortable nights. Our itinerary fluid – we each had a Bucket List of preferred sights – yet no hurry to see any in particular.
A luxury to spend time learning the rhythm of this vibrant and chaotic city.
We decided to spend our five days in Jaipur with one day of buying (all in the name of research mind you – one of our party was shopping for her Homewares store), followed by a day of sightseeing. This rhythm gave ample opportunity to take our time and soak up all that is beloved about the city.
Streets washed clean by early morning rain. Vegetable sellers setting up kerbside stalls and elephants stretched awake, the havoc of the roads, sacred cows wandering – a blend of tradition, history and frantic treasure hunting. The colour…
Jaipur is a visual feast – best served by allowing the images to tell the story – enjoy.
Best Exotic Jaipur – a Luxury Escape
Transport in Jaipur
We hired a private driver, a luxury that translated into approximately AUD $25 per day per person for our group of four. This decision contributed to the success of our stay.
Our driver was knowledable and reliable. He dropped us at entry points to various sites, negotiated for guides when required (Amber Fort), shooed away unwanted attention, and helped with our copious shopping bags.
Each evening we provided him with the details of our next day itinerary – he was able to make suggestions regarding timing, to allow for traffic and local idiosyncrasies we had not considered. Certainly, some drivers have a reputation for only taking you to the locations they have negotiated a ‘kick back’ for themselves; this did occur a few times however they were good spots we hadn’t known about (see Silver merchant below). If you do some pre-trip research and stand firm with your instructions, you should only see this form of getting around as an absolutely necessity.
Where to Stay in Jaipur
HAVELI (Private Historical Mansion)
This Haveli is a case of do not judge a book by its (initial) cover. Upon approach the hotel seems run down, however once inside a gardened oasis awaits. A 3.5 – 4 star heritage property (some of the owning family still live in a wing of the property). We chose to stay on the recommendation of a friend – the price was reasonable and the facilities okay. The charm of the property outweighed the service which was a bit hit and miss. I am not sure we focused enough on the style of rooms we had booked – a small flimsy padlock did not feel secure enough for females travelling alone. I am sure that a higher rate would yield better facilities.
Yet the history of the hotel was glorious, painted walls in the dining room, lovely furnishings in the rooms. An air of Colonial Charm.
Tucked down a tiny laneway in the heart of Jaipur’s bustle. Each of the 39 boutique rooms have a unique flavour, all steeped in history of times gone by. See my comments below re dining
Offering sweeping views of Mansagar Lake (conveniently located enroute to Amber Palace). One of my trip companions now stays here several times a year; singing praises of the service and facilities. I have dined in the restaurant and it was superb. A lovely pool offers a cool retreat from days of heat and shopping. Well worth considering.
The historic buildings remained home to Jaipur’s Royalty until 1957, when it became a hotel. Renowned for hosting such luminaries as Prince Charles, Jacqueline Kennedy and Lord Mountbatten. We arrived for lunch at a time most guests must have been out seeing the sights – the quiet corridors echoed our lone footsteps, yet the colonial grandeur was hard to ignore. Every element of luxury has been carefully executed – spa treatments, yoga classes and an outdoor pool which begs you to float on your back, relax and drink in vast Indian sky.
An all Suite, Relais & Chateaux, boutique luxury hotel (20 rooms) – established in one of Jaipur’s oldest palaces. Opened after our visit so I did not experience the property first hand – however I will book in to stay for my next trip. Stunning.
Where to Shop in Jaipur
Jaipur’s chicest boutique (we visited the store at the Amber Fort). Bags, clothing and jewellery from local designers.
Shree Neelkanth Export
H 156A RIICO, Mansarovar, Jaipur – 0091 141 3295052
Textiles, gems, bags, handicrafts, bedlinen, scarves, cottons, marble. Be prepared to be patient and negotiate. I wouldn’t recommend getting them to post your goods home as I have read negative reports in this regard. Otherwise an Aladdin’s Cave of shopping.
This image from the Anohki catalogue shows the care with which this 40 year old business takes, working with artisans to make stunning hand blocked cotton fabrics. I love some of the longer kaftan style garments for lounging wear and picked up really gorgeous napkins and little cotton gift bags.
I am not a particular fan of blue and white pottery (unusual for a Dutch girl who grew up surrounded by Delft Blue). If you fall into my camp do still go ahead a visit this huge array of crockery, door knobs, vases, platters and tiles – you might be fortunate enough to unearth a black and white piece. This destination is high on most tourist itineraries and worth the visit. They will send your purchases home if required.
Rana’s Silver Selection
Unit 1, Krishna Appartment, C4, Hati Babu Marg, Near Pital Factory, Banipark, Jaipur
Down an alley and through an office building, you will find a small treasure trove of quality silver jewellery at very good prices. I love my selection of bangles, worn every day – beautiful.
Where to Eat in Jaipur
Adjoining the Anokhi Boutique. We were seeking coffee and cake after a week of traditional Indian food. This is the spot to view Jaipur’s beautiful meeting for a chat, our cravings were well satisfied with the delicious locally grown organic food. Image credit (tripoto).
A luxury boutique hotel in the hub of wholesale shopping heaven. We dined in the most oppulently painted restaurant I have experienced; marble etchings, dramatic arches and brilliant chandeliers. I would also consider staying here for a few nights if you are after a property with charm and style. The sun loungers around the pool are very inviting.
With only enough time to scratch the surface of this property (oozing in colonial India charm), we rubbed shoulders with history – and ate lunch in the Polo Bar. Images of Jackie Kennedy watched as we dined on a rather posh High Tea, Indian Style. If you have a big budget then look also at the accommodation. Glorious.
This local favourite is an integral part of Jaipur’s food history, having served specialities like laal maas, reshmi kebab, and chicken tikka masala for nearly five decades. Be prepared to wait for a table on weekends though, as they don’t take reservations. We visited mid week for an early dinner and virtually had the place to ourselves – the food was superb, the decor basic and the price brilliant value.
I have few regrets about our time in Jaipur, however one is that we did not get to experience this bar at the Narain Niwas Hotel. Established by Dutch designer Marie-Anne Oudejans it is uber cool and should be on your list – sip on a G & T amidst opulence worthy of a Maharajah. Image Credit India Beat.
What to Visit in Jaipur
Like so many historically significant sites you can wax lyrical about them – however until you stand and observe the mosaics and paintings and architectural feats first hand, it is hard to grasp the magnificence.
We did not take the elephant ride option up to the Fort, our driver took us as far as he could and we walked the rest. I recommend securing a guide, beware the hawkers at the entrance (although I did succumb to a beautiful hand painted card), visit Hot Pink boutique and arrive early.
No guide required. Famous for the ‘bee hive’ facade, the entrance is actually located around the back of the structure – on the City Palace side.
Visit the gift shop within the Palace grounds – beautifully crafted and well priced selection. Look out for the peacock paintings – breathtaking.
People Watching in Jaipur