WHERE TO STAY:
The former residence of the Prime Minister of Jaipur, this palace-turned-hotel comprises regal rooms, pretty pavilions and charming colonnades, set amid 18 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens. This heritage site has been painstakingly restored and recently refurbished as part of the luxury five-star Taj group, with modern-day comforts.
There are 100 palatial rooms, including six suites, with colonial-style furniture, miniature paintings, gold-hued silks and sheer curtains.
Guests have the option of visiting Marigold bar, stocked with Cuban cigars, and three onsite restaurants: Cinnamon, serving authentic Indian cuisine from four of the nation’s states; Giardino, Jaipur’s finest contemporary alfresco Italian restaurant; and Marble Arch, an all-day dining restaurant.
In between meals, take a stroll around the hotel’s scenic Mughal Gardens, filled with the calls of peacocks, water channels, flowerbeds, ponds and neat pathways.
Perfectly located in the heart of the Pink City, it’s close to the main shopping areas and historical sites such as Amber Fort, Hawa Mahal and City Palace. Plus, the airport is just 30 minutes away by car. INFO: From Oct-Mar, rooms from Dhs650 (deluxe)-Dhs3,500 (suites); from Apr-Sep rooms from Dhs375 (deluxe)-Dhs2,000 (suites); Jai Mahal Palace, Jacob Road Civil Lines, Jaipur, Rajasthan, +91 141 660 1111, firstname.lastname@example.org; direct return flights from the UAE cost around Dhs1,000 and take roughly 3h 50m
WHILE YOU'RE THERE...
Visit Hawa Mahal
Hawa Mahal, the Palace of Winds, is a beautiful sight. The grand Rajputana architecture still speaks to the glory of the royal family, and you can find glimpses of Mughal architecture, too. It has 953 small windows, known as jharokhas, decorated with latticework in a honeycomb-style. Hawa Mahal was built for the women of the royal families, since they had to observe strict purdah, or covering, as the people of the town weren’t permitted to see them. These small windows allowed the women inside to watch processions and other street activities without revealing themselves. INFO: 9am-5pm, Dhs25, hawa-mahal.com
Shopping in Jaipur
Jaipur is a city of vibrant and colourful bazaars. These markets offer an opportunity to explore the vivacious culture of the region and pick up souvenirs from your trip, including handicrafts, antiques, jewellery, gems, pottery, carpets, textiles, metalwork, leather ware and spices, essentially representing the arts and crafts of Rajasthan. The assortment of products is diverse, making shopping in Jaipur electrifying and memorable. Kishanpole Bazar, Haldiyon Ka Rasta, Maniharon Ka Rasta, MI Road, Jauhari Bazar, Bapu Bazar and Nehru Bazaar are the main Jaipur markets to experience.
Explore City Palace
City Palace is one of the most famous tourist attractions of Jaipur. Built in the early 18th century by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh during his reign, the complex covers a huge area, divided into a series of gardens, courtyards and buildings. Initially, he built the outer wall, while the additional grand structures within, – from the Welcome Palace to the Armoury – were constructed later by succeeding rulers. Don’t miss the four gates of Pitam Niwas Chowk courtyard, which represent the four seasons – the peacock-themed one representing autumn is our fave. INFO: 9.30am-5pm, Dhs22, msmsmuseum.com/index.php
Jal Mahal Jaipur, the Water Palace, is located in the middle of the Man Sagar Lake and offers stunning views across the water. This symmetrical palace, that was once a shooting lodge for the Maharajah, appears to float in the centre. Grab your camera for some fantastic Instagram snaps. There are plans to transform this landmark into an ultra-exclusive restaurant, which means interior tours are off the menu for now – but we can’t wait to book a dinner here!
The Amber Fort is stunning as it has been built entirely from white marble and red sandstone. To add to its charm, Maotha Lake is at the foreground and the crystal clear image of the Fort on the still waters of the lake has to be seen to be believed. The marvellous décor of the fort features design influences of both Hindu and Muslim styles. Exquisite paintings of hunting scenes on the walls depict the temperament of the Rajputs clan, who were adventurous, revolutionary and self-indulgent. You can tour the grounds and everything within it with a fun elephant ride. INFO: 8am-5pm, 7pm-9.30pm, Dhs28, amberfort.org
Spa at Fairmont Jaipur
The Fairmont Spa, set amidst beautiful greenery, inspires total peace and tranquillity; we’re huge fans of the aromatherapy massage. The highly trained and skilled masseurs work on your muscles, reaching and penetrating each stressed layer with therapies such as the Swedish massage, the signature hot stone massage and traditional Thai massage in the special Thai healing room. Each massage is an experience that lasts nearly an hour and you can enjoy time in the sauna and the Jacuzzi before and after your treatments. INFO: Dhs280 for a 60-minute massage, fairmont.com/jaipur