The very idea of a vacation in Rajasthan conjures up a regal picture of royal palaces, antiquated decors that carry a noble story, folk dance under the desert sky, spicy Rajasthani cuisine that evoke the epicurean in you, chaotic bazaars brimming with colourful items, and camel rides that take you to the far end of the horizon beyond the dunes. A trip to this nomadic land cannot be completed without staying at a hotel that mirrors the same feel. Fairmont Jaipur was exactly what I was looking at in terms of hospitality, architecture, food, ambience and a grand experience. It had all the elements of surprise and delight. The grand welcome at the porch is most memorable as a person somewhere on the terrace starts playing nagadas and then there is a downpour of marigold flowers & rose petals! It’s an unusual sight. Right then a group of folk dancers emerge playing musical instruments, singing and dancing. They include you in the festivities and you think: there could be a no better way to check into a hotel.
Right from the porch to the reception, there are paintings, installations, decorative items, wall art, vintage items, unique symbols, a santoor player, and much more to keep you enthralled. The world spread out then, and there is a lot more to explore in the ‘fort’.
The highlight of the hotel to me was Aza, the library bar. Perfect for evenings spent reading and drinking in a quiet hall that is a relic of the Raj. It is a beautiful setting that though might be muted, but murmurs stories of yore. They have a television that plays Charlie Chaplin movie so that folks can still enjoy the peaceful environment while getting entertained. The different set of furniture with leather upholstery, dim lights, Persian lamps, tiger print carpets, jharokhas, large wooden bookshelves housing hardbound books…all come together for a heady delight. The courtyard outside Aza is even more beautiful with larger seating options, a garden brimming with bougainvillea and wall art.
The bar extends to a whiskey lounge which has bar stools and a large table. The other extension of the bar is the Cigar lounge. Those who love cigars would never leave this room, as it has a wide range of cigars housed in drawers. But the non-smokers will also not leave this room, as the lavish sofas and works make this zone the most royal in this hotel. As if a Rajput king would have himself got this room made to showcase his enviable collection of cigars collected from far & wide.
The restaurant Zoya is where you get your epicurean fix as it serves Rajasthani cuisine apart from international spread as well. It’s imperative to order Lal Maas in Rajasthan, and Zoya doesn’t disappoint. Breakfast here is a lavish affair and one would be spoilt for choice. The dining area is Mughal inspired but dining al fresco is a better option as one can appreciate the beauty of the Aravalli range while the pools reflect the skies.
The rooms are decent with all the modern facilities and a super comfy bed, not evidencing any royalty though, but luxurious nevertheless. The washroom is what makes it look royal (sorry if I am using this word too often, but then talking about Rajasthan, royalty is a word that never seems redundant), with a large hall that has a large pool tub (Hammam bath) in the centre and bathing area & toilet on its either side. The walls have small elements that bring to the fore subtle nuances of the Rajputana royalty. Do ask for a hill view room preferably from the higher floor to cherish the sunsets.
To sum up, Fairmont is not a regular hotel. It though is popular for conferences and destination weddings; individuals can still bask in its luxury & hospitality. For the tariffs, the experience is value for money. It’s perfectly located off the city (in a place called Kookas) to provide the tranquil backdrop, and the staff is ever-willing to elaborate on the decor of the hotel and the cultures & traditions of the land.
It goes without saying, choose November to February to enjoy the chill of winters here.