Rajasthan shows off its natural beauty at Raas Chhatrasagar boutique camp. A series of luxury tents perched on the dam of a reservoir: the retreat recaptures bygone days, pastimes and dining experiences in a rural setting far removed from the bustle of India’s large cities. Kitchen staff prepare local and international dishes using ingredients grown on-site and locally hired staff can plan bespoke day-trips to take in off-the-beaten-path villages. An authentic cultural experience doesn’t mean sacrificing home comforts: there's a spa offering massages and Ayurvedic treatments and a heated swimming pool in the workd. Each tent is stocked with a super-soft bed, air-conditioning and hot running water.
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A private, hour-long bird-watching walk with a naturalist
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 10am.
Double rooms from £202.90 (INR21,240), including tax at 18 per cent.
Rates include breakfast.
Rustle up a Rajasthani feast in a cooking class. Staff prepare dishes using generations-old family recipes, using fish and home-grown vegetables to make tasty curries. Stays over 24 or 31 December include a compulsory gala dinner, which is INR4,000 a person.
At the hotel
Pool, spa, free WiFi throughout, on-site parking. In rooms: shaded outdoor lounges, locally made textiles and unlimited purified water in glass bottles.
Our favourite rooms
Each of the camp’s 20 tents is equally spacious with colourful detailing and locally woven fabrics, and a granite bathroom; however, the hilltop tents offer the most privacy and panoramic lake views.
The heated outdoor swimming pool is infinity-edged and dotted with sun loungers.
The boutique Raas spa offers an array of massages and Ayurvedic treatments.
No need to tote along binoculars: there’s a stash aspiring bird-watchers can borrow from the hotel, to better peep at more than 200 species of native birds.
Room rates includes a bird-watching tour or visit to the local village.
All ages are welcome. Extra beds (for children ages 12 and under) are available for a charge of INR5,000, plus 18% tax a night, which includes breakfast. The camp is close to the reservoir, so children who aren't confident swimmers must be supervised.
The resort has a heart of green – there's no plastic used anywhere in the camp and the restaurants serve only local produce, cooked with sustainable fuel. Filtered waste water is used to keep the grounds green. Chhatra has a community-minded spirit, too: the staff are all local and the tents are hand-stitched by local tailors.
Seek a candlelit terrace table to watch as the sun melts into the horizon.
All meals are served in the dining tent, which overlooks the reservoir. Spicy Rajasthani dishes – vegetarian curries with farm-fresh produce, and tender mutton and chicken dishes – are very likely nabbed from someone’s great grandma. If you're spice-averse, they can whip up Western dishes too. The kitchen staff use site-grown ingredients wherever possible. On balmy evenings, a barbecue pops up in the bush across the reservoir or atop the hill.
There's a bar in the restaurant, but you can also have your drink served whenever and wherever they’re desired, so you can sip your sundowner by the campfire or in the shaded lounge next to your tent.
Breakfast is served from 7am till 10.30am, lunch from noon to 3pm and dinner from 7pm to 11pm.
The restaurant menu is available as room service during opening hours.
Raas Chhatrasagar’s setting is a rural idyll in West Indian state Rajasthan; aside from farms and flocks of sheep, there's little else in the remote surrounds.
Fly in to Jodhpur Airport, where daily flights arrive from New Delhi, Jaipur and Mumbai, or the smaller Kishangarh Airport. Chhatra Sagar is about a two-hour drive away from either airport; on request, one-way transfers can be arranged for INR4,500.
Ajmer Junction railway station, two hours from the hotel by car, is a major national hub, and offers connections to all major cities in north India. One-way transfers can be arranged for INR4,500. The smaller Beawar station is a one-hour drive from the camp.
Due to poorly maintained roads and frenetic traffic, driving in India isn’t recommended. But, if you must hire a car, the camp is only five kilometres from the national highway, by way of a well maintained road.
Worth getting out of bed for
Raas Chhatrasagar's naturally beautiful setting can keep even the most ardent city-slickers occupied for days. Wake to sunrise vistas in your east-facing tent and turn your binoculars to the watering hole to spy the crowd of birds and other creatures gathered there. Days can be spent on wildlife safaris, nature walks, kayaking or taking a cooking class. To better explore the lake, book a boat ride (available when the water level is high enough). Those seeking extra zen can take yoga lessons or gaze up at the stars after dinner, as a guide points out the constellations. Picnic lunches made up of the chef's specials can be enjoyed out in the bush, or enjoy a romantic private dinner by the candle-lit pool.
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 lakeside retreat in Rajasthan and unpacked their binoculars and jodhpurs, a full account of their ‘immersed in nature’ break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Raas Chhatrasagar? in India…
Pinkies up and mind your 'Ps and Qs': luxury camp Raas Chhatrasagar harks back to the days of the British Raj, when visiting dignitaries would engage in sporting pursuits and spice-laden feasts. These days, the descendents of the original owner maintain the spirit of escapism – and the exceptional dining. Overlooking a reservoir, where deer, antelope and hundreds of species of migratory bird gather each day, Chhatrasagar can feel more like a scene from a nature documentary than real life. Each of the 11 tents was made locally, using colourful Rajasthani textiles, and placed to face sunrise over the reservoir. Though guests bed down in tents, showers have plenty of hot water, WiFi is available and drinks are available at the ready; request them at sunset, when the wildlife activity picks up and cocktails are soundtracked by birdsong.