Gemstone-inspired guesthouse 28 Kothi bucks Jaipur’s traditionalist trend with its mid-century furniture, Rousseau-esque murals and urbane, in-the-know staff. Knowing that a stay in a stiff-collared palace isn’t for everyone, the hotel’s owners – a jeweller and seasoned restaurateur – enlisted their design-savvy contacts to create a modern, minimalist hotel that chimes with the 21st-century traveller. Having spent the day wandering the Pink City’s best boutiques, art shops and fabric dealers (all recommended by the cosmopolitan staff), hit the Ayurvedic-influenced spa before settling into a dinner of fragrant thali in the lush, lantern-lit garden.
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £83.15 (INR8,323), including tax at 18 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional room tax of 10% per booking prior to arrival.
Rates include an à la carte breakfast with western and Indian options. There’s fresh fruit, toasted millet muesli, eggs (they do everything from classic sunny-side-up to masala omelets) and Rajasthani dishes like split-pea pancakes.
All five rooms have a colour scheme that matches their name; pick from Moonstone, Sapphire, Topaz, Peridot and Spinel (which looks like a fiery pink ruby).
At the hotel
Gardens with lounge and alfresco dining areas; library; free WiFi throughout; laundry. In rooms: Bluetooth speaker; air-conditioning; free bottled water; Kama bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Try the Moonstone suite for size, a bright, calming room with the hotel’s only freestanding bath tub. When the sun’s out, the lattice windows throw patterned shadows across the floor, making for an inspired soak. Another winner is Sapphire, the only room on the top floor, which is full of furniture swirled with deep blue patterns.
The one-room Kothi Spa is a collaboration with organic beauty brand Pahadi Local, who make their oils from plants and fruits native to the Himalayas. Their signature product is the skin-softening gutti ka tel, or pure apricot kernel oil. The therapists are also dab hands at Ayurvedic-influenced reflexology and neck, shoulder and foot massages.
t’s not so much about what to bring as what to leave, to save space in your case: the design-conscious staff are all too happy to share insider tips on where to buy the best fabrics, clothes and Rajhastani art, so don't overpack.
All of the common areas are wheelchair accessible, but there are no specially adapted rooms.
All ages are welcome. Children will love the garden and the library, which is where the staff set up games and puzzles.
Unless its raining, the staff will set up a table in the fragrant garden.
An outfit from nearby block printers Anokhi.
One of the hotel’s co-owners is veteran restaurateur Abhishek Honawar, who’s already shaken up New York and Mumbai’s Indian dining scenes. At 28 Kothi, his expertise makes itself known at laid-back Cafe Kothi, which serves a vegetarian menu with an Indo-Mediterranean lean. Quality, seasonality and provenance are all championed here, with all the ingredients coming from tried-and-trusted suppliers, most of whom grow things the old-fashioned way. Breakfast and an all-day menu are served daily, while dinner is on request: guests choose from a delectable three-course supper (which changes regularly depending on the chef’s finds at the local markets) or thali, sharing platters loaded with curries, rice, flatbreads and homemade dips.
There’s no bar as such, just two house wines and beer. If you’re after cocktails, many of the city’s best watering holes are a short rickshaw ride away.
Breakfast is served from 8am to 10.30am; Cafe Kothi is open all day from 9am to 9pm. You’ll need to request dinner in advance, which is served from 7.30pm.
The full menu can be served in-room while the restaurant is open.
28 Kothi is in the Civil Lines neighbourhood, going toe to toe with the Governor’s House.
Jaipur International Airport is the one to aim for; you can fly direct from Delhi and Mumbai, or from other Rajhastani cities like Jaisalmer and Udaipur. It takes 25 minutes to drive from the airport to the hotel; transfers are available from INR1000.
Jaipur Junction Railway Station is a 10-minute drive from the hotel. If you’ve got a taste for the track and don’t mind the longer journey, you can catch services from Delhi (a six-hour trip), Jodhpur (five hours) and Agra (four-and-a-half hours).
Famously chaotic to westerners, India’s roads aren’t for the faint of heart. Driving is best left to someone who grew up with the gung-ho approach that dominates the roads.
Worth getting out of bed for
It would be all too easy to while away your days at the hotel, switching between a day-bed beneath the stirring trees, sampling Ayurvedic treatments in the spa and getting lost in a book in the peaceful library. But even if you have seen the Jaipur’s main sights before, be sure to take advantage of the connections that the owners and staff have fostered with the city’s artists, designers and boutiques. Do so and you’ll bypass all the tourist traps, cutting right to the glittering heart of the city’s craft and design scene. One favourite is traditional block printers Anokhi, who've been in business for more than 40 years, perfecting the colourful patterns and designs that they use on dresses, jumpsuits, trousers, scarves and more. Another insider spot is Teatro Dhora, a hip concept store (probably the city’s first) full of local artwork, Indian fashion, leathergoods and homeware. Set your eyes heavenward at Unesco-protected Jantar Mantar, a collection of 20 enormous astrological instruments built in the early 18th century, then check out the Panna Meena ka Kund, a 16th-century stepwell that served (and still does) as a place to swim, collect water and socialise. The zigzagging staircases make a striking background for capturing a diver mid flight, so don’t forget your camera…
For a regal experience, book a table in the impressive dining room at the Samode Haveli, an Indo-Saracenic mansion owned by the descendants of the rulers of Samode. The menu spans classic Rajasthani, Asian and European cuisine; try the marinated lamb (which you’ll have to order in advance), a grilled fish dish or a classic Haveli curry. If you’re looking for a break from the national cuisine, try Bar Palladio, where Venetian opulence brushes up against the romantic and dreamlike designs of the Mughal empire. Start a long lunch with their signature drink, the Marina Rossa, and a few plates of bruschetta, arancini and parma ham; follow with classics like penne al’ arrabiata and gnocchi.
Stop in for a cocktail or two at the Polo Bar in the Sujån Rajmahal Palace, the ancestral home of the Maharajah of Jaipur. The walls of the bar are decked with trophies won by the Jaipur royal family on the polo field, setting an atmosphere best described as princely leisure.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this boutique guesthouse in Jaipur and unpacked their clothes bought from local boutique Teatro Dhora, a full account of their (pink) city break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside 28 Kothi in India…
If there’s one thing that India does well, it’s palatial hotels. Not palatial as in plain fancy, palatial in the sense that they’re quite literally fit for the maharajahs that used to call them home. The thing is, these places can be a bit stiff – they’re all starched bib-fronts, hushed voices and the chink of fine bone china, and that sort of standing on ceremony isn’t everyone’s cup of chai. Clearly, that’s exactly what the owners of 28 Kothi thought when they created a modern, five-room hotel that turns that tradition on its head. Lebanese designer Nur Kaoukji’s interiors are more modern and minimalist than many of the city’s hotels, and are full of unique touches like cut-out metal parrots (it sounds kitsch, but it’s not) and hand-painted palms on the walls. So if you’re into highly ‘grammable interiors and the kind of place where the manager sits down with you to discuss the best sights, stores and what you’d like for dinner, then 28 Kothi is just the place for your Jaipur jaunt.