After half-an-hour-long drive from the Jaipur railway station, when our driver pulled up at the huge wooden gate of Fairmont Hotel, we knew we were in for a royal treat.
Sitting pretty on the outskirts of Jaipur is this jewel – Fairmont Hotels & Resorts’ first property in India.
The hotel is at a distance of 22 km from the railway station but the way to the hotel is a smooth ride as we pass through the city roads dotted with a number of historic monuments enroute. In fact, it’s a welcome relief going from Delhi where most corners of the road is a grimy sight. The buildings, the roads, the lanes, the traffic, everything seems so organized and less chaotic in the Pink city.
As we enter the gate of the palatial hotel we are greeted with a traditional Rajasthani welcome with the beating of nagadas (drums), flower shower and the folk singer crooning ‘Padharo Maare Des’. We are then led through the massive wooden doors of the arched gateway into the palace courtyard. A woman awaits us with a puja thali and applies tilak on our foreheads. We are greeted to a melodious tune of santoor played by young Danish as we pass through the hotel lobby called the Rang Mahal. As we are ushered into the grand reception hall, called Darbar Mahal our sight instantly gets attracted to the magnificence of the interiors. It’s resemblance to a darbar hall is not mere a coincidence. It was just the start of a royal experience at Fairmont.
As we settle down with a glass of welcome drink into the comfortable chairs in Anjum, the tea lounge, we get to experience the immaculately designed lounge area. Mughal architecture is evident throughout the hotel. The Mughal influence is also strong in the smaller details. Arches and octagonal towers feature throughout.
A walk around the hotel’s royal interiors exposes us to a mishmash of Mughal and Rajput architectural styles, reflecting the history of the state. The vintage Shekhawati furniture, carved silver antiques, the large velvet pankha in the lobby and the rich upholstery transports you to the era of rajas and maharajas.
The luxurious hotel has 199 rooms and suites, many of which overlook the majestic Aravalli hills.
We check-in to our room and enter through a traditional wooden door into the alley area and a room with Portuguese colonial-inspired four poster beds. A low Mughal-style bed is placed thoughtfully. The highpoint of the room is the spacious bathroom. The striking floors have a complex geometrical pattern. The bathroom features a shower cubicle and a maharaja-size hammam (bathtub). There’s also a handcrafted wooden parrot on a swing near the bedside, a warm reminder of the Mughal affection for nature.
We feel lucky to get a room overlooking the swimming pool and a view of the upcoming white cenotaphic ‘exclusive spa’. The rising hill-line of Jaipur at a distance and flocks of pigeon that swoop past our window, unmindful of our presence, presents a soothing experience to the tired mind. We are in a different zone, away from the busy city life and into the peaceful arms of nature.
It’s not a heritage property but Fairmont, Jaipur is steeped in a rich and privileged heritage, yet is effortlessly modern. Vast and opulent, yet intimate and residential.
It is around 1 in the afternoon and we were already feeling hungry. After being smitten by the lavish king-size room we head towards the hotel’s all-day dining restaurant Zoya. It is a large restaurant with a huge dining space that is interestingly divided into five different eating areas. The tables are well-spread out and the open kitchen gives you a view of the chefs at work. There is a good mix of Indian, Asian, European and International favourites with an interesting range of Rajasthani specialties as well. After a stomach-bloating lunch we head straightaway to our room for some afternoon siesta.
A tour around the property awaits us in the evening, which reveals that the hotel is built in a ten-acre area in sheer luxury and opulence. Hand-painted murals outline the vaulted ceilings. Walls are patterned in tree-of-life motifs. Soft twinkling lights around the lawns makes it a romantic sight.
We are taken to the colossal convention centre which is ideal for premier product launches, gala dinners or grand weddings. It houses a grand ballroom, a marvelously-crafted staircase, two small ballrooms and five meeting rooms The Grand Ballroom is surely the star attraction of this property, which is adorned with hand-painted decorative ceiling and intricate jali work on the walls. The ballroom opens to the lush lawns overlooking the traditional Saheliyon ki Bawri and the imposing façade of the hotel.
Two storeys up is the hotel’s hallmark, the Gold Floor, which offers an exclusive lounge, butler service, private check-in/out, and a range of customized services. The floor has a private terrace where you can indulge in light snacks over intimate conversations set against the magnificent vistas of the Aravalli hills. We peep into one of the Gold rooms, adorned in indigo and gold, a king size four-poster and a maharaja-size hamaam strewn with roses. It will surely tempt you to spend at least a night in the luxurious room.
The hotel’s gym and spa has all the modern facilities, though a new spa is coming up just near the swimming pool. There is a Guftugu (conversation) area for those having a time at the pool.
The opulent property is complemented with an array of dining options like the charming Anjum, where you get an exciting range of authentic and high quality teas and coffees with a local twist. There is the elegant library bar Aza, for a quiet evening of aperitifs and signature cocktails. With a mix of high and lounge seating, the Cigar Diwan, is a classic smoking room, perfect after dinner space.
After a tour of the whole premises we head to Zarin, an Indo-Persian fine dining restaurant for cocktails and dinner. The sprawling restaurant is an elegant mix of heritage with modernity with rich upholstery. Right in the centre is the Emperor’s table. The menu comes on a crafted silver plate and the cutlery looks expensive. There’s alfresco seating as well.
We are told that the hotel is one of the most popular wedding venues and a favourite haunt of NRIs for destination weddings. With as many as 199 rooms and multiple party areas that facilitates various wedding functions and ceremonies, the hotel seems quite apt for holding such big events.
The local sightseeing opportunities while in Jaipur, which is known for its historical landmarks, are Amber and Jaigarh Forts and Jantar Mantar Observatory. Jaipur is also known for its local artisans who specialize in captivating textiles, particularly rich, stamped fabrics, as well as jadau jewellery.
Credit: Abhilasha Aggarwal