x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Hotel Insider: The Fairmont Jaipur – expect the royal treatment

The hotel group's first foray into India is fit for a Mughal prince.

The Gold room at The Fairmont Jaipur. Courtesy Fairmont Hotels and Resorts
The Gold room at The Fairmont Jaipur. Courtesy Fairmont Hotels and Resorts

The welcome

As we approach the Fairmont Jaipur in darkness, I spot a giant fortress lit up in the hills. “Is that the Amber Fort?” I ask the driver. “No ma’am, that is the hotel.” We enter through an arched gateway with towering wooden doors that are opened for us, into the courtyard of a -re-imagined 16th-century Mughal fortress. (One day, there are trumpeters in a tower to welcome us but, out of courtesy, they’re quiet for night arrivals.) The lobby in the grand hall is through another set of silver-coated aluminium doors and an entrance where there’s usually a minstrel sitting cross-legged on a daybed, playing a flute or sitar. We’re shown to the Fairmont Gold reception area for check in; when I return to my room, my marble bathroom floor is decorated with marigold petals, and there’s a hot bath in a giant soaker tub waiting for me. Hard to beat that kind of welcome.

The neighbourhood

Perched in the Aravalli Hills, off a long and winding road, the Fairmont’s first hotel in India is like a resort in a world of its own. Far from being marooned, the -concierge can organise everything from elephant polo to a visit with India’s only Unesco-certified falconer. The hotel has a sweeping view of the hills, with lawns leading out to domed pavilions.

The room

My Fairmont Gold room is almost as opulent as the rest of the hotel, with a four-poster bed, arched doorways and windows with hand-embroidered gold silk curtains, and a bathroom big enough to do sprints in. A handcrafted wooden parrot sits on a swing in each room, a nod to the Mughals’ fondness for the creatures.

The service

Expect the service Fairmont is known for: quietly and graciously efficient, with attention to detail – rushing to pick up something I’ve dropped and remembering my morning coffee order. The Gold rooms have a butler service, and the cleaning staff leave sculptural towels on my bed: not just the usual swan but an elephant holding a flower in its trunk with petals for eyes.

The scene

The hotel, which opened in August, was relatively quiet before the Diwali holiday, save for a large conference group and a handful of well-to-do Indian and Western tourists, both couples and families. Its business is likely to pick up when it opens its villas and spa next autumn.

The food

While Zoya, the all-day dining restaurant, serves a variety of cuisine, from European to Chinese, it specialises in Indian cuisine. Both here and at a special lunch on the lawn, I enjoy some of the best food I’ve had in India, including some dishes I’ve never encountered before, such as atta chicken, a whole chicken cooked in a dough shell, and laal maas, a Rajasthani lamb cooked hunter-style over charcoal. Breakfast eggs or idlis are made to order in the Gold lounge. Tea is served up with chocolate jewels in Anjum.

Loved

The craftsmanship is spectacular: everything is hand-made by local artisans. The walls and ceilings are hand-painted with Rajasthani frescoes, arched doorways and windows are framed with carved jali screens, and alcoves are decorated with thikri glasswork.

Hated

My Gold room on the first floor was a little too close to the ground. Although it had a great view of the hills overlooking the pavilions, one morning I woke up to a group of tourists taking photos below me as I gazed out the window in my robe.

The verdict

Want to feel like a Mughal prince or princess in a five-star hilltop fortress, catered to in every way? This is the place for you.

The bottom line

A Gold room costs from 18,900 rupees (Dh1,270) per night, including taxes. The Fairmont Jaipur, 2 Riico Kukas, Jaipur, India (www.fairmont.com; 00 91 142 642 0000).

* Mo Gannon