The Big Six: Rajasthan retreats
Friday 14 September 2012
Havelis arose during the 18th century along the ancient caravan routes of northern India. They were built by rich merchants as status symbols and private homes, and are defined by their lavish façades, ornate cornicing, colourful frescos and cool, inner courtyards. Many have now been converted into characterful hotels, and Samode – in the Pink City of Jaipur – is one of the finest examples. It boasts a mosaic dining room, fairy tale rooms, exotic arches and a tree-lined courtyard with an outdoor pool.
Samode Haveli, Gangapole, Jaipur (00 91 141 263 2370; samode.com). Doubles start at Rs7,600 (£86), B&B.
Sitting in the shadow of one of India's largest forts would be enough to give any hotel an inferiority complex. But Raas stands with its head raised high, as a fitting accompaniment to the majestic hulk of Mehrangarh, some 400ft above. The 300-year-old mansion has been reclaimed, enhanced and imbued with modern flourishes by the Singh brothers, who have crafted 32 rooms and seven suites, connected by terraced gardens, an infinity pool and an Ayurvedic spa.
Raas, Tunwar ji ka Jhalra, Makrana Mohalla, Jodhpur (00 91 291 263 6455; raasjodhpur.com). Doubles from Rs15,000 (£170), B&B.
The Piramal, Bagar
Seth Piramal made his fortune trading in cotton and silver in Bombay. In 1928, he acquired the Morarjee Mills in his hometown of Bagar, converted it into a mansion and lived in it until his death in the Fifties. Built during the late haveli period, the building – which is now owned by Neemrana Hotels – retains two well-preserved courtyards, authentic rooms, pillared corridors, and detailed frescos that depict Rajput warriors and deities such as Lord Krishna.
The Piramal, Bagar, Jhunjhunu, Shekhawati (00 91 159 222 1220; bit.ly/PiramalHaveli). Doubles from Rs1,500 (£17), including breakfast.
Amet stands on the western banks of Lake Pichola. In the 18th century, it was used to store stone, when Maharaja Jagat Singh II was building the Jag Niwas summer palace on an island in the lake. When the work was done, Singh instructed the chief architect to use the leftover materials to create a smaller mansion. The property was used by maharajas as a recreational retreat, until it was gifted to the ruling family of Amet in 1780. Today, it is a hotel, with 20 rooms and a lakeside restaurant.
Amet, Outside Chandpole, Udaipur (00 91 294 243 1085; amethaveliudaipur.com). Doubles start at Rs5,700 (£65), room only.
Koolwal Kothi, Nawalgarh
Koolwal Kothi stands as a testament to the colourful Shekhawati region, known as the "open-air art gallery of Rajasthan" for its brightly painted buildings. Built in 1934 by a Mr Koolwal, this haveli features a vibrant exterior splashed in pastel shades of yellow and green, and 18 grand rooms. The interior exudes a sense of heritage, with high ceilings and antique furniture, and the well- kept grounds have manicured gardens and an outdoor pool.
Koolwal Kothi, 40 Government Hospital Road, Nawalgarh (00 91 159 422 5817; welcomheritagehotels.com). Doubles from Rs6,000 (£68), room only.
Garh Jaisal, Jaisalmer
The Sun City of Jaisalmer rises from the Thar desert as a sultry swirl of sandstone, topped by a 12th-century fort. It is home to Garh Jaisal, which was built into the walls of the citadel as an abode for wealthy Jain merchants. The seven rooms inside range from the Rising Sun, where windows make the most of each new day, to Opium, which comes with Indian quilts, murals and a view of the fort. There's also a roof terrace where you can repair from the desert with a cup of chai.
Garh Jaisal, On Fort, Kotri Para, Jaisalmer (Bookings via i-escape.com). Doubles from Rs5,534 (£62), including breakfast.
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