Set in a converted 18th-century Rajasthani hunting lodge, Royal Heritage Haveli hotel is a serene sanctuary in Jaipur, India’s bustling Pink City. The family-run hotel has the warm, welcoming feel of a personal estate, with croquet on the lawns, a sensational spa, cocktails served from a stylish bar and local cuisine made with home-grown vegetables. At the end of the day, retire like royalty to suites uniquely decorated in Indo-Mughal style with bright frescoes, sweeping archways and intricate tile.
Get this when you book through us:
A guided tour of the property, high tea for two (with sandwiches, savoury canapés, a dessert and coffee, tea and juice), and luxury organic soaps
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 1pm.
Double rooms from £81.32 (INR7,670), including tax at 18 per cent.
Rates include continental breakfast, a large spread with Indian breakfast treats, fresh pastries, eggs and fruit.
Head to the gardens in the afternoons for cocktails and croquet.
At the hotel
Gardens, pool, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: Minibar, free bottled water, kettle with teas and coffee, flatscreen TV, WiFi, Kama Ayurveda bath products.
Our favourite rooms
The spacious Heritage Premium suites have stunning hand-painted ceilings and prime views of the garden and pool, as well as a private terrace.
Set just outside the palace by the gardens, the unheated lap pool is surrounded by marble and sand-coloured Jaisalmer stone sunbathing areas.
The tranquil Frangipani Spa offers treatments inspired from around the world, including Balinese massage, Tahitian scrubs, Ayurvedic treatments, poultices and a traditional Indian massage using herbal infused oils.
Bring sketchpads to capture the stunning frescoes and two gorgeous gardens on the hotel’s grounds. Don’t over pack: Jaipur is world-renowned for its shopping, including gemstones, silver, fabrics and leather sandals.
The common areas and one suite are wheelchair accessible.
Welcome. Children under six can share their parents' bed for free. Children from six to 12 stay on an extra bed for INR1,500 a night (INR2,000 in high season); children over 12 stay for INR2,000 a night (INR3,000 in high season). Rates include breakfast.
The hotel is run using solar power, and the restaurant uses local, seasonal ingredients in its food, including many items grown on-site.
Opt for an outdoor table by the flowering gardens. For a particularly romantic setting, request a private dinner at the Baradari, facing the pool.
Beautiful silk fabrics.
Serving diners in a frescoed dining room and on a courtyard beneath a 200-year-old kigelia tree, Kigelia Court specialises in authentic Rajasthani and Northern Indian cuisine. Though the menu changes daily, there are also a few Italian dishes for diners looking to pause from India’s rich tikkas and curries.
Mehrab has plenty of secluded corners for romantic after-dinner drinks. With bevelled glass arches and mirrors cleverly designed to resemble hunting trophies, the menu includes plenty of spirits, and house cocktails made with India’s excellent fruit, including watermelon martinis and mango mojitos.
Kigelia Court serves all day, from the start of breakfast at 7am until 10pm.
The full restaurant menu is available during the restaurant’s operating hours, along with a selection of comfort foods, cheeses and drinks throughout the day.
Royal Heritage Haveli hotel is in Jaipur, 5km west of the city centre, and 18km from Amer Fort.
Jaipur International Airport, which offers domestic flights, is a 30-minute drive from the hotel. Transfers are available for INR1100 (about £12). The largest nearby airport is Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport, a five-hour drive from the hotel.
The Jaipur Railway Station is a 10-minute drive from the hotel, and connects with major cities throughout the country, including Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta and Chennai. Transfers are available for INR650.
The roads in India can be intimidating for drivers unfamiliar with the area, so those looking to travel by road are best off hiring a car service; the hotel can recommend reliable local outfits. If you do opt to drive yourself, you can park on-site at no additional charge.
Worth getting out of bed for
A 250-year-old escape for the Maharaja of Jaipur, Royal Heritage Haveli has plenty to amuse guests within its manicured grounds. Dip into the pool to escape the Indian heat or set up a croquet game in the garden or practice sunrise yoga. The staff of Prithvi restaurant can offer cooking demonstrations. Jaipur, known as the Pink City, is rife with exceptional architecture, including the City Palace, the official residence of the Maharajah. The Hawa Mahal, or Palace of Winds, resembles a large pink beehive, thanks to its intricate lattice-work windows, which enabled the women inside to watch the streets without being seen. Outside town, Jal Mahal, or the Water Palace, is accessible only by boat, out in the middle of a lake. Just north of town Amer Fort, set on a hill, is accessible by foot or on an elephant's back. The city holds numerous exceptional shopping opportunities, including the textile-abundant Johari Bazaar.The Gem Palace, a venerable jewellery icon that has sold rubies, diamonds and gilded crafts to Maharajas and royals since 1852. For a soaring view of Jaipur’s many sites, Skywaltz operates balloon rides over main attractions.
A popular restaurant in the heart of town, Niro’s on MI Road serves traditional Rajasthani dishes, a small selection of continental dishes and an assortment of Chinese food, including non-vegetarian options. For a break from Indian food, Taruveda Bistro offers a quirky assortment of globally inspired fare, including Texan hot wings, beet hummus, sushi, eggs Benedict and pesto pasta. The stunningly beautiful Bar Palladio is a near-surreal break from Indian cuisine. Inspired by Harry's Bar in Venice, and named for Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio, but the interiors are a Mughal wonderland, set among orchards with peacocks strutting past. The menu is an ode to Italy, with pastas, soups and entrees all using classic Italian ingredients.
Lassi are a cooling Indian alternative to coffee, and few make them better than the Lassiwalas on MI Road. Offered in sweet or salty and served in clay cups, they’re a refreshing taste of the locals’ Jaipur.
Four days of tiger-searching along Ranthambore’s unmade, bumpy tracks and on to Jaipur, past the usual mix of Indian street scenes: camels pulling giant carts, stalls overflowing with fruit and tended to by busy businessmen and women, people buzzing in and out of the streetside barber chair. India may be many things, but its head-turning majesty isn’t always restful. So now, for some luxury…
Weaving in through rose-hued walls and fountain-speckled gardens of Royal Heritage Haveli, I pull up at the palatial entrance – bags promptly whisked away. I’m led to a handsome-looking heritage room, where light cascades in through ornate Indian windows. Cafetiere coffee arrives, biscuits follow, and I’m left to breathe a deep sigh of relief. I suspect I’ve been rumbled. Surely, they must know? But a quick glance down at my dusty clothes, convinces me otherwise.
This is just the everyday welcome bestowed on guests of Royal Heritage Haveli. Mr Smith and I are given a choice of two suites. One with a secret outdoor shower tucked behind a wooden door, where water flows down over a slab of cantilevered slate (manager Suhas seems particularly pleased with this). But it’s the second option – overlooking the hotel’s elegant croquet lawn – that wins out for its mural-painted, midnight-blue ceiling, that unfurls like a blanket of stars. Bob Dylan’s refrain about dancing beneath diamond skies might well have been written here. It takes me back to the Royal Heritage Haveli of old, when this 18th-century character-packed building was known as the Khatipura Haveli. Surrounded by 3,000 acres of jungle-wrapped wilderness, it acted as a royal hunting ground for Jaipur’s reigning maharajas. Even our own monarchs, including Queen Mary, slung down their crowns here. And though the days of hunting in India have mercifully passed, the haveli remains, in essence, that sort of place: befitting of royals, but friendly to commoners, too. Even very dusty ones…
That said, spa time beckons, so I make my way across lawns turning amber at dusk, to a series of simple treatment rooms beside the pool, for a pre-dinner abhyangam. In case you’re not familiar with Sanskrit, the term refers to a full head-to-toe rub down, or traditional Indian massage. And at this point, I figure, I can’t go wrong. It does wonders. Especially when I emerge after sunset to see the hotel’s grounds garlanded with fairy lights, incense burning in one corner beside a Hindu statue, candles flickering on the roof terrace, lanterns hanging from a giant kigelia tree. It’s at night this hotel really comes to life.
After a restorative G&T, Mr Smith and I make our way to dinner. A basset hound the size of a small family car lies sprawled across the terrace. ‘Excuse my very underweight dog,’ jokes Angelique, the owner of two slightly plump bassets, Muffin and Zoya, who waddle around the grounds. This 150-year-old building is Angelique’s ancestral home, which she restored with her husband, Pradip Singh. The pair live elsewhere in Jaipur, but the two dogs remain, dutifully keeping guard. The Kigelia Court restaurant is named after the giant flower-filled tree that casts its branches across the terrace. On warm Indian evenings, such as this, it’s particularly atmospheric. Mr Smith and I sit gazing across the light-strung gardens as the muezzin’s call to prayer drifts across the night. You could easily get carried away with the romance of it all. But the food arrives, so we shake it off and get stuck in. Traditional Indian folk musicians play in one corner, as a parade of rogan josh, roti and rice emerges (there’s an international menu if you’re craving non-Indian food). It strikes me that Royal Heritage Haveli is a thoughtful sort of place. Squinting over the menu, a torch appears; mosquito spray, while sitting at the bar after dark; armbands, toys and floats for a tantrum-verging toddler, reticent about jumping in the pool. It’s the little things that count.
Rested and restored, next morning we plunge into Jaipur. Capital of Rajasthan, Jaipur is known as ‘the Pink City’ for the fuchsia hue of its Old City, painted in honour of Prince Albert’s arrival in 1876. Today, these rose-tinted walls are scrawled with murals and overhung with bursts of bougainvillea, lending the city a bright, almost-tropical feel. I like it immediately. We stop by the impressive Hawa Mahal – or ‘Palace of the Winds’ – whose multi-tiered honeycomb structure was crafted to include a thousand intricate jharokha windows, so that Jaipur’s royal woman could watch passers by without themselves being seen. The city’s headline sights are the impressive City Palace and, outside of town, the golden-hued Amber Fort. We visit both, but it’s Jaipur’s tangled bazaars that seduce: packed with fruit sellers throwing bananas to greedy macques and friendly faces saying namaste. Come evening, we spruce up and set off for the smart Palladio bar – a stylish ode to Jaipur’s cosmopolitan aire – where canopied Indian tables and chairs spread out over light-bathed lawns. But Royal Heritage Haveli still has my heart, for giving me a royal welcome, even when I was a commoner. Rags and all.