May 24, 2021
Delhi-Agra-Jaipur has been a coveted Golden Triangle for the international traveller. But for us, the Indian millennials, is it that exciting? Most of us have seen the Taj Mahal on a field trip or family vacay. Delhi has been a mix - business trips or culinary exploration. Jaipur has been hot for its music festivals and boutique hotels.
As domestic travel surges, I take on a new journey of traveling Rajasthan and exploring a whole new triangle - Jaipur-Jodhpur-Bikaner. For most of us Jaipur is home to palaces and museums, Jodhpur for Mehrangarh Fort and Bikaner is all about bhujiya. Boutique hotels in these cities have created a whole new perspective and recreated these cities as travel destinations.
Each city is five and a half hours away from one another by road and I recommend a minimum stay of 2 nights at each property. Check out these cities from the point of view of three millennial hotel owners.
Jaipur - 28 Kothi
Start your trip with two nights in Jaipur at the quaint 28 Kothi. This five room boutique guesthouse located in the heart of Jaipur is tucked away from the bustle of the city and allows you to begin your holiday with a complete disconnect from everyday life. Slow down and settle into their well-stocked library or lush green lawns with a cup of masala chai or a perfectly blended cuppa Joe (Coffee roasted by Coffee Mechanics). A farm fresh, vegetarian menu boasts of salads, Kothi bowls and fresh cold pressed juices. You can also indulge in their local, seasonal Rajasthani thali cooked with produce of the day. Look out for Deepchand, their star server.
Room: Designed in hues of ecru, Moonstone gleams with sunlight and is my favourite room on the property. The bath tub is certainly a plus.
Tip: Don’t forget to take an iconic photograph with the library mural.
Founders: Siddharth Kasliwal (Gem Palace) and Abhishek Honawar (Honawar Hospitality)
Interior Design: Nur Kaoukji
Room Rates: Starting at Rs 6000++
PS: The team at 28 Kothi has a new boutique hotel opening in the Pink City. Follow them on @thejohrihapur for updates.
Pre-dinner drink at Bar Palladio (Narain Niwas Palace Hotel)
Home cooked meal at Pratap Bhawan (Himanshu and Deepti create a melange of vegetarian and meaty traditional recipes). Himanshu - 9829074354
Evening chai at Tapri Central (Best seating is the outdoor section facing Central Park)
Lal Maas and Maas Ke Sule at Spice Court, Civil Lines
Lassiwala on MI Road (pre-Covid times)
Pyaaz Kachoris and Ghewar (seasonal) from Rawat. (I’m a big fan of Panditji and Bagadiya Bhawan kachoris, I’d only recommend these in a pre-pandemic world).
Sculpture Park with a bird’s eye view of the city from Nahargarh Fort
Silver Mountain for silver jewellery (Hit the second floor for some Afghan Tribal)
Amrapali (club a store visit with a trip to their museum)
Gulabchand for leheryas (Gifting)
Andraab for pashminas (Must Buy Indulgence)
The Gem Palace (Squeeze in an appointment with Siddharth Kasliwal or Samarth Kasliwal for the royal gem tour)
Saurashtra for everything block printed (highly recommend the pyjama sets). Kishore (Owner) - 9829063565. (Make sure to follow the map link)
Jaipur Rugs - Nothing like a curated showing of the collection with Yogesh (Owner).
Rishi Shoes (Shop 44 outside hawa mahal) for handmade juttis
Jodhpur - Daspan House
Home to Siddharth Daspan and family, Daspan House is an 18-room boutique hotel with palm spotted lawns and colonial meets contemporary design. The four poster beds and minimalistic room decor are a beautiful contrast to the black tiled bathrooms (great for a selfie!). Siddharth is the perfect person for recommendations and for the lesser known facts about Jodhpur.
Room: A room on the third floor for a top view of the lawn and the adjoining terrace swimming pool.
Founder and Design: Siddharth Daspan
Room Rates: Rs 5700++
Raas Haveli - For Drinks
On The Rocks - Indian food (Sister property Khas Bagh is a good alternative)
Gypsy - Rajasthani veg thaali
Champagne Sundowner at Umaid Bhawan Palace
The Jodhpur market is popular for local delicacies such as Gulab jamun ki sabzi, Chakke ki Sabzi, Ras Malai Ki Sabzi, Hari mirchi ka halwa but I’d recommend you try these only once a Covid vaccine is in place.
Mandore gardens - Ravan’s wife (Mandor Devi’s) home place.
Stepwell Cafe in the old city for the view of the step well (obv!)
A walk of the old city with Blue City Walks (Unlike the usual walking tours, Govind and Sharon create an interacting vibe within the old blue city with their curated style and bountiful knowledge). About 3-4 hours. Sharon - 9820095116
Ittar market for handcrafted fragrances (Try the smell of rain). You can also buy a selection at the Mehrangarh Fort Museum Shop. Check out their fragrance called Vara, gifted by His Royal Highness Gaj Singh II to his grand daughter Vara.
Handwoven cotton dhurries handwoven - Salavas (If you’re feeling adventurous, this is 20kms outside of Jodhpur)
Lalji Handicrafts for antiques and curious (My precious!)
Suncity for art deco or colonial furniture (Shipping world over)
Tyabji for Bandhej and Leherya (Gifting)
Bibaji for Lak Bangles (Just for fun!)
Bikaner - Narendra Bhawan
A hotel that serves G&Ts as their welcome drink has my heart. Manvendra Singh Shekhawat, one of the most enterprising millennials in the Indian hospitality circuit, opened Narendra Bhawan in Bikaner and immediately changed the cityscape. This 82-room boutique hotel boasts of multiple experiential spaces and curated dining programs. My favourite space is the second floor courtyard, the perfect backdrop for lazy afternoon G&Ts.
Room: India Room specked with indigo hues and jute weaves and a private balcony. The bath tub again is a bonus to this room. Attention to detail is what really caught my eye, from the lint roller and coat brush to the cotton robes and #wfh (Work From Hotel) writing desk.
Tip: Post Covid Spa therapy inspired by the Bach Flower Therapy. Maria and Elvis are excellent therapists.
Interior Design: Ayush Kasliwal
Room rates: Rs 12000++
I highly recommend you experience at least one of the dining programs at Narendra Bhawan. You can choose between the Literary Lunch (7 books paired with 7 courses), the Museum Dinner set in the backdrop of the Night Room of their all-day dining restaurant Pearls and Chiffon where you are treated to a six course meal adapted from the Maharaja’s OG dining menu, or their own version of the Marwari Menu served course wise instead of the usual Thali. You can also opt for the Western Dinner by the rooftop swimming pool for hand rolled Tortellini and Chicken Confit. They have an excellent wine program - I’d recommend the Domain Montros, Chardonnay, AG 47, Malbec Shiraz, Argentina and La Vieille Ferme, Luberon Blanc, Rhone, France.
Meal Preference: The Literary Lunch (Cause my second love to food is books)
Rampuria Haveli - Five intricately designed havelis stand tall and create a flashback of a bygone colonial era. Beaut!
Junagarh Fort for its historic magnificence
A walk through The Laxmi Niwas Palace followed by high tea
Chunilal Tanwar for Bela sherbet (Bela = flower)
Chotu Motu Joshi for kachoris and mirchi vadas
National Handloom for sitaphal tree bark saris, camel wool dohars and shawls
Ready Reckoner for Rajasthan:
October to March is a great time to visit. If the weather permits, try to catch pre-season rates at the end of September.
Very few decent places to stop on the highway so stock for the road trip.
Conservative clothing for market visits, otherwise be yourself!
For local transport: Nirbhay Singh Taxi Service: 9828098988
All the above mentioned hotels have best practices in place keeping up with the recent Covid times.