A fabled family home in the Indian city of Jaipur, Samode Haveli hotel is an ornate oasis in the heart of the hectic old town, with glorious grounds, a huge pool and tinkling fountains. Hundreds of candles light the way by night, but with glittering mosaics and opulent archways at every turn they (almost) needn’t have bothered. The rooms vary in style and size, but you can be sure of some serious antiques to admire no matter where you stay. Beyond your room, there are courtyards, alcoves and terraces to explore, and don’t miss a peek at the indoor dining room and its portrait-lined walls – there’s not much danger of that, though, with food this good.
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A handmade gift from a local pottery gift on departure
Noon. Earliest check-in, 2pm, subject to availability.
Double rooms from £251.89 (INR26,550), including tax at 18 per cent.
Rates usually include breakfast.
The whole of Jaipur was painted pink to welcome Queen Victoria and the Prince of Wales in 1876 – its fit-for-royalty rosy glow was the colour of hospitality.
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout, gym, car park. In rooms: TV, DVD player, air-conditioning, minibar, free bottled water, tea and coffee kit.
Our favourite rooms
The rooms are spread out across different parts of the grounds (which span various courtyards, buildings, terraces and gardens) and the family still occupy some of them. We particularly love the lofty ceilings, pink walls, freestanding bath tub and four-poster bed in Deluxe Suite 109. For something completely different, check out the Sheesh Mahal Suite – it’s a low-roofed, 200-year-old ‘palace of mirrors’ that’s covered in reflective mosaics, and perfect if you prefer things a little dark.
The huge pool is surrounded by gardens and arched terraces, with day-beds, palm trees and a Jacuzzi at one end.
The spa specialises in Ayurvedic treatments; there’s a hammam, and yoga, Pilates and cardio class programme.
Bring your most colourful clothing – when all the city’s buildings are pink, you may as well match the backdrop.
The communal areas have ramps and one room has been specially adapted for wheelchair users.
All ages are welcome. Cots and extra beds can be added to rooms. Little Smiths are allowed in the restaurant and bar, but there are no special menus or changing facilities.
Nab one of the candlelit tables around the fountain outside, or admire the family portraits and chandeliers lining the walls indoors.
Last days of the Raj.
The restaurant is on an elevated terrace with a central fountain and hundreds of candles lit up every night. It serves some of the best Indian food in Jaipur: we loved the slow-cooked lamb, crisp parathas straight out of the tandoor and the paneer with spinach curry. If you’re in the mood for a little less spice, there are salads and pastas on the menu as well. An American breakfast is laid on each morning, with a few Indian favourites thrown in. There’s also a dining room inside for hotter days and colder winter nights.
There’s an outdoor bar tucked into some alcoves by the pool, which means that cocktails can be delivered straight to your sunlounger – though the seating under the ornate arches is equally inviting.
Breakfast is served between 7am and 10pm; lunch hours are noon to 3pm; and dinner is from 7pm until 10.30pm. The poolside bar is open from 11am until 7pm.
Simple dishes such as pasta and grilled chicken can be served in-room on request.
You’ll find Samode Haveli in the centre of the Rajasthan city of Jaipur, in northern India.
Jaipur’s airport is closest, a 40-minute drive from the hotel. Transfers are 1,470 rupees each way.
The city’s railway station is 20 minutes away by car. Services from all across the subcontinent call in here, including Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore (one-way transfers are 1,050 rupees each way).
The distances in India are vast and you’ll be sharing the roads with cows, mopeds and rickshaws – but if you’re brave, there’s a car park at the hotel.
Worth getting out of bed for
Make like a Raj and revel in the hotel’s glorious courtyards, spa and mosaic-lined pool, then head out on a hotel-arranged guided tour of the Pink City’s centre. Then, it’s time to get fort hopping: Jaipur has its fair share of spectacular defence strongholds, from the Nahargarh on the edge of the Aravalli Hills and Ranthambhore Forest to the magnificent Amber Fort, which has its own palace complex. Stick around in Amber for a lesson in the art of block-printing at the Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing. Stargazers should divert to Jantar Mantar, a series of observatories built in the 18th century. If it's your first time in town, make sure to spend at least a little of your visit basking in the glow of the red and pink sandstone shades at Hawa Mahal, a Rajput palace that was built in 1799.
What it lacks in curry (no Indian food is served here), Anokhi Cafe makes up for in international baked-good heroes, from pizza and focaccia to bagels and baguettes. Parquet floors, candlelit courtyards and ornate archways form the backdrop to the grand Italian restaurant Bar Palladio, where you can mainline specially sourced pecorino and prosciutto during an authentic imported aperitivo hour. Jaipur Modern Kitchen serves up all the international faves (pad Thai, sushi, falafel, risotto) next door to a boutique selling Indian fashion, craft and textiles. And for curry like you’ve never seen it, try Cinnamon at the Taj outpost, which gives a little contemporary flourish to the classics.
Stomp divots (or just have a drink) at the Rambagh Palace’s Polo Bar, a paean to the princely sport.
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 city hotel in Rajasthan and unpacked their tea leaves and textiles, a full account of their far-flung break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Samode Haveli in Jaipur…
The hectic hustle of Jaipur may be just outside but Samode Haveli, with its assorted apartments spread across various courtyards and gorgeous gardens, is a Pink City paradise. The mansion was built almost two centuries ago as a rulers’ residence – and their descendants are still lording it up amid the opulent alcoves and gilded mosaics, having converted their home into a charming hotel. It still feels like a family home, with informal check-ins conducted while lounging around in the main courtyard, and the verdant grounds are filled with flowers and fountains, and a vast pool with terraces and cabanas to commandeer. The antique-filled house is within Jaipur’s city walls, making it the perfect patch for exploring the Rajasthani capital, and helpful hotel guides can take you on a walking tour. But you won’t want to be out for long – not when the curries are this good.