This collection of Indian Boutique Hotels showcases the country's contemporary design ethos
These slick stays enhance the oases and tented camps throughout the desert state, offering an alternative to India's sumptuous palaces.
India is known for its palace hotels, and for good reason: these storied royal residences turned into opulent retreats come with centuries-old heritages. The contemporary design ethos of India is being celebrated by a clutch of boutique hotels across the country. These five stylish properties in Rajasthan mix old and new in delightful ways, from a converted historical haveli to a safari lodge with tents adorned with colorful references to local fauna and flora.
The hottest opening in Jaipur this year is Villa Palladio, a ruby-toned jewelry box designed by Swiss-Italian expat Barbara Miolini (who is also behind Bar Palladio). With vivid scarlet shades adorning its nine-key hideaway, it takes inspiration from Mughal tents, miniature paintings, and an idyllic Italian country estate. Jaipur's glamour and energy are just 20 minutes away, but a bucolic rural setting bordering the Galta leopard sanctuary allows residents to live the slow life.
The walls are decorated with block-print motifs and graphic patterns in shades of red, pink and white, and the lamps, marble screens, cushions, and china have all been handcrafted in Jaipur. Villa Palladio Jaipur offers a taste of la dolce vita in the Pink City, with candy-cane-striped daybeds by the pool and hand-rolled pasta and Rajasthani cuisine.
Suján the Serai, a Relais & Chateaux property
Jaisalmer's 100-acre seasonal desert camp, which has been closed for the past two years, is about to reopen after a two-year hiatus. Inspire by the royal caravan sites of the Rajput royal family, these tents remain simple and elegant in shades of cream and gold, accented by acclaimed artwork, carpets, curtains, throws, and turbans—a stark contrast to the desert's stark landscape. Rosamund Freeman-Atwood, spa consultant at the globally renowned Raison d'Etre, conceived the tented spa within an inverted stepwell that reveals a tranquil pool. Come and experience a dose of luxury surrounded by raw nature and rich culture. Doubles start at $850 per night; season runs from September to March.
It is a favorite among the creative set who frequent the Rajasthani capital because of its secluded location inside the chaotic gemstone market. Stylishly renovated, the Lal Haveli is a 19th-century merchant’s mansion with a salmon-pink façade that looks like something from a Wes Anderson film. Inside, the suites are decorated in colors that reflect the gem for which they are named—the Neelam suite, for instance, is adorned with turquoise and sky blue tones. Naina Shah, who runs a couture embroidery business based in New York and Mumbai, commissioned wood carvings and brass lamps from local artisans. Among the trendiest tables in town is the all-vegetarian Johri restaurant downstairs-and a new cocktail menu in collaboration with India's award-winning gin brand Stranger & Sons, featuring gemstone-inspired cocktails with local ingredients like pomegranate and caraway seeds, is making bookings even harder. There are doubles starting at $270.
There is a legend that the erstwhile ruler of Nimaj, Thakur Chhatra Singh, wanted a water supply for his villagers, which led to the construction of the reservoir that now forms part of RAAS Chhatrasagar. It is now a birdwatcher's delight, with 250 species, including golden orioles and green-winged teals, spanning a 1,500-acre private wildlife reserve near Jodhpur. Raas spearheaded efforts to rewild the surrounding land. There are 12 pillars of hand-cut chitar stone panels covering the pillars of the restaurant, which is a contemporary interpretation of a traditional Rajput pavilion. The award-winning design includes tents embellished with block-printed fabrics and birds and greenery. Doubles start at $390.
“Amanbagh” literally means “garden of peace,” and Tuttle has created a subtle oasis of luxury in the Aravalli Hills surrounding Jaipur. This modern Mughal palace is reimagined by architect Ed Tuttle in clean lines. The hotel's salmon pink domes, cupolas, and high arches rise above lush greenery and are made of local sandstone and marble. All suites have Udaipur marble bathtubs carved from individual slabs. This property has a magnificent pavilion with a 100-foot emerald pool, where the mesmerizing Manganiyars (Muslim folk musicians from Rajasthan) perform every evening. Sariska National Park, 45 minutes away, is filled with tigers, langurs, sambhar deer, and even the rarely seen caracal cat if you can tear yourself away. You can then decompress in the spa with a Maharaja/Maharani massage or an Ayurvedic scalp oil massage. You can book a double room for $1,298.