The Scottish Mail on Sunday
Dreamy hotels in India’s romantic Rajasthan
From bewitching sunsets to a hot tub on a palace tower, Jane Knight unearths a dozen dreamy hotels in this enchanting corner of India
THERE are many romantic destinations in the world but none can hold a candle to majestic Rajasthan, a land of epic vistas, magical forts and stunning pink sunsets – and packed with an array of charming boutique hotels guaranteed to leave everyone feeling totally loved up.
Here we explore the very finest the area has to offer.
RAAS CHHATRASAGAR, NIMAJ
Romance rating: Rural retreats don’t get much more breathtaking than this, sitting on an ancient dam and hilltop overlooking a lake 70 miles from Jodhpur. The place has just had a spectacular revamp by RAAS hotels. Relax in the pool and spa, then snuggle up in one of the 20 ‘tents’ that come complete with teak furniture, air conditioning and heating.
Don’t miss: Sunrise over the lake, its fringes full of birdlife. Head off with a naturalist for walks around the area and to local villages, then return to feasts with those sublime lake views as your backdrop. B&B doubles from £339 (raashotels.com)
28 KOTHI, JAIPUR
Romance rating: This bijou property in Jaipur has rooms named after local gemstones. Stay in elegant, pared-back Sapphire with its deep blue furniture, or pale Moonstone with its freestanding bath. There are no televisions to distract you (nor is there a pool), but you won’t be short of Instagram fodder in this whimsical setting, with hand-painted palm trees on the walls, cobra candle stands and lattice windows. Don’t miss: Candlelit dinner in the lush garcome dens – the vegetarian organic food is exquisite. Take a tuk-tuk into
Jaipur; the hotel manager will hook you up with the best galleries and boutiques. B&B doubles from £79 (28kothi.com)
DEEPPURA GARH, SIKAR
Romance rating: Ramble hand in hand around secret gardens, manicured courtyards and along roof terraces at this sprawling 200-yearold fort. Surrounded by farmland a couple of hours north-west of Jaipur, this hotel opened last year after extensive – and impressive – work. Waft through interiors with original frescoes on the walls, then wallow in the 18-metre pool.
Don’t miss: The painted havelis (traditional townhouses) this area of Shekhawati is famous for. On your return, relax by a crackling fire, then retreat to one of ten individually styled whitewashed bedrooms. Doubles from £316, full-board (deeppura.com)
AMAN-I-KHAS, NEAR RANTHAMBORE NATIONAL PARK
Romance rating: There’s zero chance of your other half squealing ‘I don’t do camping’ when they see the ten Mughal-inspired pavilions at Aman-i-Khas which, at 1,160 square feet each, would hold a campsite of two-man tents. Amid the reams of cream canvas you’ll find an enormous day bed (plus a king-size one for sleeping), twin writing desks and a bath. Outside, there are squishy sofas for snuggling around the campfire. You’ll need deep pockets to stay here, though.
Don’t miss: A thrilling tiger safari in Ranthambore National Park, once the Maharajah of Jaipur’s hunting ground. Tents for two from £993, all-inclusive (aman.com)
TREE OF LIFE, NEAR JAIPUR
Romance rating: Massage beds for couples and outdoor sunken tubs as standard in the gardens of each of the 13 spacious villas here, 30 minutes from Jaipur. Some villas have private pools, and there’s a communal infinity pool from which you can gaze at the Aravalli Hills. Yes, there’s a restaurant but why go when you can sit in bathrobes in your private garden post-massage and order dinner à deux? Don’t miss: After a jaunt to the Pink City with its Amber Fort, order the Aravalli bath with rose petals, bubbles and essential oils. B&B doubles from £87 (treeofliferesorts.com)
MIHIR GARH, NEAR JODHPUR
Romance rating: You’ll get a truly exotic experience in this desert fort 40 miles south of Jodhpur with just nine enormous suites, done out in heavy wood furniture. Each has its own terrace with a private plunge pool or hot tub, from which you can admire the desert views shared by the hotel’s lovely infinity pool. Wander courtyards with hidden niches, curl up in silk-cushioned lounges and indulge in a gourmet dinner under the stars. Don’t miss: A horseback adventure through this rural wilderness (there’s a spa to soothe aching muscles), followed by a bush dinner. Doubles for two from £445 a night, full-board (houseofrohet.com)
THE ROHET HOUSE, JODHPUR
Romance rating: You won’t find a more romantic urban pool than the one here, with its adjoining pillared veranda, floaty white curtains and green rattan furniture. A sister property of Mihir Garh, this former home of the Rohet family opened last year as a chic ten-room hotel. It’s a modern take on traditional Rajasthani decor, with chandelier-lit bathrooms, Krishna motifs and intricate rugs. Have tête-àtêtes over meals prepared using recipes from the local royal family’s kitchen before holing up in one of the many nooks and crannies or in the sitting room.
Don’t miss: A sunset zipwire tour which takes in Jodhpur’s Mehrangarh Fort from above. B&B doubles from £191 (mrandmrssmith.com)
BHAINSRORGARH FORT, NEAR KOTA
Romance rating: Could there be a more perfect place for whispering sweet nothings to each other over
dinner than the roof terrace at this 18th Century fort, with its arched alcove overlooking the Chambal River? Enjoy the same incredible views from the suites with balcony views. Some 150 miles north-east of Udaipur, Bhainsrorgarh is a charmingly ramshackle affair with a labyrinth of turrets, terraces and atmospheric ruins to wander round. There are plenty of cushioned alcoves and lounges to relax in.
Don’t miss: A picnic lunch on an island after rowing on the river. B&B doubles from £160 (corinthiantravel.co.uk) SUJAN THE SERAI, THAR DESERT
Romance rating: It’s easy to imagine you’ve stepped back to the days of the Raj in these 21 cream tents, all served by a butler, but with the added benefit of mod cons such as double showers. Some tents also have their own plunge pool, perfect for a candlelit dip on the 100-acre site an hour from Jaisalmer. For a swim, head to the infinity pool, then pamper yourself in the spa.
Don’t miss: A sunset camel safari on the dunes. Or set out for a secret venue under the desert sky for a bush dinner. B&B doubles from £581 (i-escape.com)
CHANOUD GARH, CHANOUD
If romance is measured in stone filigree archways, carvings and stained-glass windows, this 300-year-old heritage property overflows with it. Almost midway between Jodhpur and Udaipur, Chanoud Garh has ten suites with vaulted ceilings, painted walls and historical artefacts. Feast on home-cooked Rajasthani cuisine in enclosed overhanging balconies known as jharokhas, or on the rooftop terrace, then relax on the colonnaded veranda.
Don’t miss: The sunset trip to the bird-filled salt plains. Doubles from £230, full-board (wayfairertravel.com)
LAKSHMAN SAGAR, RAIPUR
Romance rating: It’s all about the dramatic 60ft pool here, carved into the rock and overlooking Rajasthan’s rocky ‘badlands’. More private plunges are to be had in the pools of each of the 12 lakeside cottages. About three hours east of Jodhpur, there’s a 19th Century hunting lodge with no wi-fi, TV or phone signal, so you can devote yourselves to fun activities such as knitting with the pink wool supplied, by the courtyard fountain.
Don’t miss: The local liquor-tasting and star-gazing are lovely, but nothing beats lazing by that pool. Doubles from £182, half-board (i-escape.com)
RAAS DEVIGARH, UDAIPUR
Romance rating: The hot tub on a crenellated turret is reason enough to include Devigarh, even if it’s on the bigger side of boutique, with 39 contemporary rooms. There’s still space to escape other guests in this majestic hillside palace an hour north of Udaipur: wander through courtyards and frangipani-filled grounds, relax on balconies, enjoy a couples’ massage in the Ila spa and dine in an open-air turret. For that special occasion, book the Devigarh Suite, with its open-air bath.
Don’t miss: A trip to Udaipur with fairytale views of the Lake Palace hotel. Enjoy breakfast with a view from your balcony, then walk to Delwara, home to Jain temples. B&B doubles from £159,
Devigarh suite from £377 (mrandmrssmith.com)
l All prices are for two people staying one night. For more details of Rajasthani boutique hotels, see Mahout (mahoutuk.com).