Having just stayed two nights at Taj’s luxury hotel Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur, here are some of the things we loved about the experience – in no particular order.
* The welcome – traditional Rajasthan horns and drums play as rose petals float from the terrace and you ascend the plush red carpeted stairs. Need more? Forget your usual hotel welcome drink – sip perfectly chilled sparkling wine under the palace’s domed roof on arrival.
* The authentic art deco styling and colours in India’s youngest palace. Completed in 1935, Umaid Bhawan was the last of the great palaces to be built before India’s independence subsumed Rajasthan’s princely states into the new Republic. Every aspect of the palace is considered and reflects the contemporary art deco aesthetic of the day.
* The Jodhpur Chilli Martini – not only is there the storied yet sophisticated Trophy Bar in which to end the day, but there’s also a signature hotel cocktail to indulge in. Don’t miss this martini with just the perfect amount of chilli. The bar also sells cigars if you are inclined.
* The impressive hotel grounds – perfectly manicured, cascading bougainvilleas, wide lawns, tennis court, pool and roaming peacocks – breath-taking at dusk.
* The picnic basket delivered to your poolside lounge by one of the army of pool attendants (special mention to Chandan) as you cool off in the afternoon – complete with savoury snacks, chilled fresh fruits, cool towels, cold water, newspapers and magazines. Ice-cream in waffle cones and sparkling wine drifts around at suitably short intervals.