The Rajput rulers of old would undoubtedly approve of Six Senses Fort Barwara – a palatial restoration of a 14th-century stronghold, backdropped by the Aravalli hills. Behind its sandstone ramparts, languid luxury prevails; brass-accented suites, a sequestered spa and the sleekest of pools (all, surely, balm to a weary warrior’s soul). There’s plenty to keep you occupied in and around the hotel, from meditation sessions to mountain-bound adventures – though dreaming the day away on your private terrace is perfectly valid. Energy levels restored, venture out to track Royal Bengals in Ranthambore National Park, or hunt down hand-printed Rajasthani textiles in Jaipur’s chai-fuelled bazaars.
48 suites of various proportions, spread across the east, west and north wings.
Standard check out is 12 noon. Earliest check-in, 3pm, but flexible, subject to availability.
Double rooms from £729.40 ($1,003), including tax at 18 per cent.
Rates usually include breakfast.
Mix back-to-nature beauty treatments at the spa’s Alchemy Bar, with an expert-led session using local plants and herbs.
At the hotel
Laundry and pressing service, free WiFi throughout, on-site parking and valet parking service, spa and fitness centre, library, meditation temple, swimming pool. In rooms: flatscreen satellite TV, minibar with homemade snacks, free bottled water, tea and coffee, yoga mat, air conditioning.
Our favourite rooms
The Aravali View suites have particularly dreamy terraces, complete with outdoor showers. Windows in the fort’s 14th-century walls frame the hills and sky; take in the vista from your cushioned window seat or swinging sofa. For money’s-no-object opulence, the turret-set Raja Man Singh Suite delivers on every front, from its outdoor dining pavilion to its sun-dappled private pool.
Peel yourself away from that remarkable view to clock lengths in a pool of Olympic proportions, then retreat to a luxuriously cushioned daybed on the deck.
Behind the frescoed facade of the former Zanana Mahal (women’s palace), the spa is impeccably equipped, with a sauna, steam room, tepidarium and cocooning treatment rooms. Drift away with an Ayurvedic four-handed massage, then sip herbal teas by the courtyard’s mirror-like reflection pool. Activities cater for both the sporting and spiritually inclined, spanning aerial yoga, personal training, and trataka (fire meditations).
Bring binoculars for tiger-spotting at Ranthambore, and woven leather flats for strolling Jaipur’s bazaars. Pack yoga gear and hone your half-lotus at the hotel’s sunrise and sunset sessions (mats are provided in each suite).
A dedicated concierge is at your service 24 hours a day. The hotel is wheelchair-accessible.
All ages are welcome. Under-12s stay free, with a supplement for meals; extra beds and cots can be provided on request. All three restaurants have a children’s menu and chefs will rustle up main-menu half portions for adventurous eaters.
All ages are warmly welcomed, though gung-ho toddlers will need supervising on some of the private terraces.
The suites are all one-bedroom, but have space for an extra bed or cot; some suites are interconnecting.
There’s a play area for younger children, with a sandpit, toys and nanny, as well as a separate hangout for teens.
The Grow with Six Senses kids’ club runs indoor and outdoor activities, with a focus on connecting with nature.
Borrow some inflatables and cool off in the lifeguard-supervised pool.
The hotel’s three restaurants are equipped with highchairs, children’s menus, and obliging chefs, who’ll adapt main-menu dishes where they can, or whip up half-portions for kids.
Kids’ club staff can provide babysitting. The first two hours are free; afterwards there is a charge (prices vary).
No need to pack
Toys, games and pool inflatables.
There’s a spa and wellness menu specifically for kids. It runs from mini meditations to manicures, via massages, foot mapping and playful animal-flow yoga
As with all Six Senses hotels, the onus here is on sustainable luxury. Unnecessary plastic packaging is avoided, in line with the hotel group's Plastic Free 2022 initiative, and produce comes from local farmers and the hotel’s own organic gardens. There’s a natural wastewater treatment system, and an on-site water-bottling plant. A swathe of protected land east of the fort is being reforested, too. This is a guilt-free getaway.
Overlooking the landscape at Mardana Mahal in the fort’s observation tower.
Maharaja-chic, with printed silks and gem-set bracelets. Mr Smiths, pack your finest linen, and deploy the hotel’s laundry-pressing service.
Chef Matthew Cropp rustles up Rajasthani-inspired sustainable cuisine at Specialty Restaurant, fuelled by produce grown by local farmers or picked in the fort’s organic gardens. In the former men’s palace, high up in the fort’s observation tower, Mardana Mahal is a more intimate affair, lit with gleaming brass lamps and green-glass chandeliers. Here, visiting guest chefs showcase regional Indian food; tamarind-spiked Keralan fish curries, say, or Punjabi-style dal makhani. Finally, there’s the alfresco Poolside Grill, for unhurried lunches by the water; share a succession of small plates, with a carafe of something cool.
Watch the sun setting over the hills from the Viewing Gallery bar, with a pre-dinner martini in hand, or claim a leather club chair in the oak-panelled Library Lounge – the cocktail list’s an excellent read.
Breakfast is served at Specialty Restaurant between 7am and 10.30am. The hotel’s two bars are open from the afternoon onwards, only closing when the last guest has retired to bed.
The hotel occupies a handsome walled fort above the village of Chauth Ka Barwara, seventy miles south-east of Jaipur.
Jaipur International Airport is a two-and-a-half hour drive. You’ll be picked up at the airport in a sleek hybrid SUV, with WiFi and cold drinks.
From Delhi, it’s a three-and-a-half-hour journey to Sawai Madhopur Station, aboard the August Kranti Rajdhani express train. From here, it’s half an hour’s drive to the hotel, in a slickly-appointed SUV, if you opt for the ‘Arrive like a Royal’ package.
Rajasthan’s horn-slamming drivers and pothole-dotted roads aren’t for the fainthearted, which is why the hotel offers transfers.
Worth getting out of bed for
There’s plenty to keep you occupied inside the fort’s walls, from panoramic walks along the ramparts to silk-suspended aerial yoga sessions. The palatial spa should definitely feature on your agenda, along with chef-led clay-pot cooking classes and Earth Lab kitchen-garden tours. Venture out for gentle ambles around local villages, set up by the hotel, forays to the Aravalli mountains in one of its vintage Land Rovers, or handsomely-catered picnics by the Banos River.
Half an hour’s drive away, stalk some tigers in Ranthambore National Park, home to 69 resident Royal Bengals. Along the way, watch out for leopards, crocodiles and jumpy-looking chital (spotted deer) – also on the lookout for big cats. Pro tip: you’re likely to see more on the morning safaris, when it’s cooler.
Further afield, Jaipur deserves at least a day trip, with its signature-pink mansions and labyrinthine bazaars. In a city famed for its artisan know-how, the shopping possibilities are endless, whether you’re looking for emeralds, blue pottery or a pair of embroidered jutti (shoes). Exquisite, hand-block printed textiles are a specialty; pick up a quilt at Chaura Rasta Market or browse the rails at Anokhi. Stroll past handsome havelis (column-fronted mansions) to the Palace of the Winds and Jantar Mantar – an 18th-century astrological oddity that looks like a modern sculpture park. Northeast of Jaipur, the Amber Fort is a triumph of decorative excess, with its frescoed courtyards, temples, terraces and glimmering hall of mirrors.
With three excellent restaurants at the hotel, there’s no need to venture beyond the ramparts. If you are in the mood for an excursion, Jaipur’s the best bet. Baradari has a sublime setting; a centuries-old courtyard at the City Palace. Centering on a sleek bar in a brass and marble pavilion, it’s atmospheric come evening, for upscale cocktails and a menu that flits between Italy and India (kick off with mozzarella kachori, paired with a beetroot dip). Just outside the city, 1135 AD is Bollywood-set romantic, with a petal-scattered, candlelit terrace on top of the Amber Fort. It’s strong on silver-plattered thalis and Rajasthani specialties, including yoghurt-laced laal maas (slow-cooked mutton curry).
In Jaipur, take a detour to Shree Pandit Kulfi Bhandar at Gangori Bazar, for chewy, made-that-morning pistachio and saffron kulfi. For lunch, head to the Anokhi Cafe, after browsing the store’s block-print wares. Its feelgood menu’s farm-fresh and mainly organic; corn fritters, say, or pomegranate-dressed pumpkin and feta salad.
Naturally, both of the hotel’s bars mix cocktails with panache, and will happily cater to off-menu requests. Come sunset, the Viewing Bar’s the place to be, looking out on the Aravalli mountains. If you’re visiting Jaipur, Bar Palladio is a decadent spot for a drink, with its cobalt-blue, mirrored salons and pale green marble terrace. Peacocks strut between canopied daybeds on its lawns, and an Italianate menu teams Venetian-style spritzes with dainty arancini.
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 palatial fort and unpacked their block-print quilts and bazaar finds, a full account of their adventures will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Six Senses Fort Barwara in Rajasthan…
Backdropped by the misty, leopard-stalked Aravalli hills, this storybook fort has weathered seven centuries. Now, after an epic restoration, its pinnacled palace and frescoed temples house Six Senses Fort Barwara. Behind high sandstone ramparts, forty-eight serene suites are dotted with pieces woven, carved or hammered by Rajasthan’s masterly artisans. There are bespoke-made, swinging daybeds, and windows framed by intricate jali (lattice screens); sculptural brass door handles, and exquisite hand-knotted rugs. Elsewhere, you’ll find a meditation temple, Olympic-sized pool and impeccably-appointed spa, set in gardens that supply the hotel’s three polished restaurants. Beyond the fort’s walls, all manner of excursions await, from treasure-hunting in Jaipur’s bazaars to tiger-spotting at Ranthambore. Leave it with one of the hotel’s aptly-acronymed GEMs (Guest Experience Makers), who’ll delight in dreaming up your next adventure. Still, it’s the quieter moments of the day that’ll linger long in the mind, too, from sunrise yoga sessions to stargazing from the ramparts in the inky Indian night sky.