Imagine a welcome where the rhythmic beating of huge, traditional Rajasthani drums, called nagadas, herald your entry. The minute you walk through the main door, a blizzard of fragrant rose petals swirls around you, showered from an intricately carved balcony above by a turbaned darban (gatekeeper). You are escorted into the grand main lobby via a manicured courtyard by local Kalbeliya musicians and colourfully attired dancers who treat you no less than royalty.
But, for the people at Fairmont Jaipur, you are just that. A royal guest who is to be accorded every luxury and comfort during their stay at this stunning palace hotel. Atithi Devo Bhava, meaning ‘Guest is God’, is an old Sanskrit phrase that easily sums up the Fairmont Jaipur experience.
Rising with all its grandeur and bedecked finery out of the shadows of the majestic Aravalli Hills, Fairmont Jaipur by Accor Hotels was a breathtakingly beautiful sight to behold as I drove up to it after a short ride away from the hustle and clamour of Jaipur city. The hotel’s glittering countenance is best savoured a little before dusk when the setting sun casts a golden-pink glow over the grand hotel’s façade.
A virtual guardian of the history and culture of Rajasthan, the eight-storied Fairmont Jaipur is a luxurious living palace that gracefully combines the glories of the past with modern day comforts. The imposing darwazas (carved wooden gates) repurposed from the fort of nearby Jaisalmer stand guard to the exclusive 90,000 sq. ft. convention grounds that the hotel is known for.
Here, every aspect, be it the palace-meets-fort architecture, the geometric courtyard inspired by Agra’s Char Bagh or the palatial hotel lobby and finer details of the interior décor, all pay homage to the legends of India’s Mughals and the celebrated Rajputs who ruled the land for centuries. To say that I was seduced on first sight would be an understatement.
The 245 guest rooms including seven imperial suites at the Fairmont Jaipur are bespoke residences that mirror classic heritage influences. Here, one can find four poster beds, camel bone inlaid furniture and walk-in bathrooms with the distinct pink city stone bath tubs. One can also find Mughal styled low seating day beds and discreet arched windows that overlook the aforementioned Aravalli Hills.
Understated, yet opulent at the same time, each room features the hotel’s mascot and leitmotif of the talking Moroccan parrot who were said to be the traditional companions and confidantes of the queens, keeping them company when the kings were out on their conquests. One can find the parrot perched, in the form of a silver figurine, right next to the bed in every room, adding a touch of playful romance to the royal chamber ambience.
As I was booked into one of the imperial terrace suites, I, like all other suite guests, was also privileged to enjoy the services of a private butler. In my case, Mohit Khandelwal, an impeccably trained, enthusiastic young man who would be at my service at all times during my stay, happy to unpack my luggage and cater to my every whim. Yes, even setting up rather self-indulgent rose petal bubble baths.
A special mention must be made here of the Accor Hotel Group’s efforts to introduce intensified hygiene and prevention measures to ensure my safety. The ALLSAFE label verified by Clifton represents their new elevated cleanliness protocols and standards. This meant regular deep cleansing of my suite by the detail-oriented housekeeping staff, scanning of QR codes in lieu of hard bound in-room dining menus and sanitiser dispensers at hand always.
As with any grand Indian hotel, food plays a very vital role at Fairmont Jaipur with its many offerings. Take for instance the hotel’s main fine dining venue, Zarin. Borrowed from the word for gold, Zarin can be best described as indulgent owing to the exquisite décor here that complements the food. As I stepped into the restaurant for dinner, I was welcomed and seated on one of the low-levelled royal couches, reminiscent of the long lost traditions of family dining across India.
My first night’s dinner of the Royal Rajasthani thali that was whipped up by chef de cuisine Ajinkya Shettye, was a gastronomic tribute to the dynasties of the past. Allowing me to sample a grand variety of preparations, each with its own story like the goat laal maas that royal cooks would expertly prepare outdoors on long hunting trips for the Maharajas.
For a more casual meal, the tent-themed Zoya is the place. Meaning ‘sunshine’, Zoya is the hotel’s all-day dining restaurant which features five distinct dining experiences all ensconced in luxe interiors and a warm ambience. Gleaming silverware, fine china and goblets in regal colours welcome guests as they dine in the royal Mughal tent-style dining spaces. My five-course Indian-Italian fusion meal of curried minestrone soup and Shekavati lamb osso buco with masala risotto, among other dishes, was the height of innovation and sophistication.
Still craving a bit more indulgence, I found myself a seat at the Anjum lobby bar. This place serves some of the best cocktails I’ve had in a while like the expertly made negronis and gin and tonics. For cigar aficionados, the Cigar Dewan is an exclusive climate-controlled cigar lounge to hang out at and channel those Mad Men vibes.
Loosely fashioned along the lines of a Turkish hammam, the Ruhab spa at the Fairmont Jaipur is an oasis of calm and serenity. Calling one to come ‘escape into a cocoon of deluxe indulgence’, Ruhab, which means ‘the one who brings happiness’, offers an array of treatments, personalised to offer you utmost relaxation. Whether you choose a massage, like I did with the traditional, 90-minute Ayurvedic Abhyanga, or an energising facial or scrub of your choice, you will emerge revived. Interestingly, the spa has recently launched their range of new treatments, tailored in accordance with your zodiac sign.
So, feel at ease, as the spa’s proficient therapists work on your chakras, helping you experience blissful healing, of body and soul. And for afters, a plunge in the outdoor chaturanga-shaped (an ancient cross-shaped Indian board game similar to chess) pool seals the deal. Trust me.
With its wide focus on hosting destination weddings, Fairmont Jaipur has an impressive number of grand ballrooms and banquet halls, both indoor and outdoor. One can pick from the elaborate blue and silver themed pillar-less grand ballroom and halls like Avi and Sulek to regal outdoor venues like the poolside lawns, the Saheliyon ki Badi and the Aasma Grand Rooftop overlooking the city below.
Speaking of which, there is a lot to do and see in the city of Jaipur that the hotel will be only too happy to help arrange for you. Besides the mandatory Covid test I needed to take in the city to ensure my return home to Mumbai, I was also taken on a half day tour of the beautiful Pink City as Jaipur is affectionately referred to as.
From the wonders of the hilltop Amber Fort and the Jal Mahal palace located slap bang in the middle of the Man Sagar Lake to the airy delights of the Hawa Mahal palace of windows and the bustling alleyways of Baapu bazaar, I had my fill of the main city of Jaipur. Picking up a treasure trove of local Rajasthani sweets like the ghee-drenched ghevar and soan halwa from the iconic LMB (Laxmi Misthan Bhandar) sweet shop, I made my way back to the luxurious embrace of the hotel.
In a nutshell
Embellished with the glorious legacy and multifaceted culture of the erstwhile Rajputana way of living, Fairmont Jaipur is truly a royal destination. Upholding the traditions of the region’s grand Mughal palaces, this majestic hotel offers the best in modern amenities and is perfectly complemented with the rich heritage of Rajasthan in its design and attention to detail in its unmatched hospitality.
Fairmont Jaipur is a 40-minute drive from Jaipur’s Sanganer Airport along National Highway 8. Flights from Sanganer Airport connect Jaipur not just with major cities of India like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Ahmedabad, but also with international destinations like Muscat, Sharjah, Bangkok, Dubai, and London via Delhi and major European cities like Frankfurt, Paris, Zurich and Moscow as well.
Rooms start from INR 12,000++
Hotel photography courtesy of Fairmont Jaipur.