Ever wanted to live like royalty? At The Leela Palace Jaipur I discover the splendour of classical Art Deco heritage replete with pillars and chandeliers and the magnificence, beauty and luxury of a world-class hotel.
Jaipur is well known as the colour capital of India and is famed for its colourful arts and culture, and the hotel’s slant to design pays reverence to the details of local artistry. As we drive in, I am greeted with visions, sounds and fragrances to stir my emotions and refill my soul. I have found a place to relax, revive and experience total renewal – it’s paradise!
Nestled amid relaxing hinterlands near the Amber fort on Delhi-Jaipur highway, The Leela Palace Jaipur is set beside the imposing milieu of the Aravalli array, through eight acres of landscaped gardens. The hotel combines warm Rajasthani hospitality with modern luxury. The lobby is grand and a hub of action when we arrive early evening. Nonetheless, a host of people welcome us exclusively and provide chilled towels and an apple cinnamon infused water as we wait to check-in.
The awareness of royal opulence is profound – in the rich wood panelling, the windows, and the artwork such as the four-hundred-year-old legacy expertise of Thikri and old-style Shekhawati canvases – but there’s a spectacularly fresh avant-gardism.
Driven by the luxury of the past, two hundred superbly appointed rooms suites and villas are tastefully balanced with tailored features including dexterously intended chandeliers and beds that are an enticing oasis of comfort and what dreams are made of.
I walk into my well-appointed royal plunge pool suite and am greeted by a stunning view of the whimsical pool and some flora and fauna. My suite is spacious and filled with daylight. Adorned in warm creamy tones with plush, comfortable interiors, my suite features top-class amenities – made from organic botanicals, no less. And what I really love the most is the spacious bathroom with dressing facility replete with a gorgeous vanity basin, a private lavatory, all in all a haven of luxury!
My luggage is stored in the walk-in wardrobe, which pleases me to no end, tucking away our untidy bags and sealing the recess with sliding doors. Later on, my first evening, a laze on the cabana by my private pool, softly lit with warm lighting, turns out to be an appealing place to bring in the change from day to night. And the Maharaja suite reaches ever-more awe-inspiring standards, with its vast living rooms, palatial bathrooms and palace views, it’s the pinnacle of Jaipur luxury.
Food and drink
A sweeping marble corridor took me graciously towards the various eating options of the hotel. For breakfast, my favourite venue was the typically royal Sukh Mahal with an alfresco seating area in the peacock garden. There couldn’t have been a more peaceful retreat than Jharoka Bar for an afternoon tea, evening cocktail or champagne whose inviting views provided me with a sort of tranquillity within a city, yet away from its hustle and bustle. Go for a martini, devised by the mixologist, pull up a seat, and he’ll tell you how he once mixed a martini for some royalty as well.
At Mohan Mahal, India’s sole candle-lit restaurant, dining is forever a treat. 3,50,000 fragments of Thikri mirror, fixed by craftsmen over three years, crafts an air of sophisticated grace. The royal cuisine from Rajasthan and Awadh is a perfect alliance between a cuisine that is light and traditional- like the stand-out starter of seekh kebab, dressed with barley. Hawa Mahal quenches the craving for a private rooftop eating experience where visions and savours are a highlight.
I loved the uniquely royal kind of luxury hotel service. The staff appeared alert that guests at the world’s outstanding hotels not only anticipate superb and flawless service, but also an extraordinary social identity. Notably the delightful and larger-than-life Chandrasekhar Joshi, general manager, greets warmly wherever you may be, (“my work sketch is very humble; I don’t have one. My only chore is to amble in the hotel and discover out what we can do to make our guests feel more at home”) and arrays the air for earnest, but continuously gracious, service. And the meticulous butler service for suites is provided by a ‘navy of footmen’, Leela Palace style.
Relaxation conveniences, too, are very remarkable with an expansive spa and a gym. Also, ask for a running map of the local area. The hotel offers bikes for guest use, along with a cycle tailor made safari route if you ask for it.
Within close proximity from the pink city, the hotel’s location offers the immaculate vantage to explore the city in all its magnificence, with historical places of interest, bustling bazaars teeming with textiles, art and handicrafts and the legendary silver and gemstone markets only a short distance away.
Photography courtesy of The Leela Palace Jaipur