Think you know Jaipur? Think again. Daisy Finer is a connoisseur of the best places in town…
The C&TH Guide to Jaipur
Where To Stay
Traditional Luxury: Suján Rajmahal Palace
Once the private home of the Maharajah – complete with strutting peacocks among the fountains and beds of white roses in the seven-acre gardens – this palace, in the heart of the Pink City, was reimagined two years ago as an utterly unique hotel. As you step through the doors of the Battenberg pink, two-storey building, you are assailed by the brilliant use of pattern and colour. The ‘51 Shades of Pink’ breakfast room – which was inspired by Norman Parkinson’s photos of India – is possibly the most Instagrammed hotel room in existence.
One of the loveliest of the 14 spacious rooms is the Mountbatten Suite with its baby blue colour scheme and huge four poster, spacious white marble bathroom and an attached private dining room that’s laid for a traditional Jaipur feast with crystal glasses and linen napkins. Palace room, from £760 (excluding taxes).
Cheap Chic: 28 Kothi
This is exactly what has been missing from the Jaipur hotel scene. Built for the late Gem Palace jewellery designer Munnu Kasliwal as a place for his creative collaborators to stay, this gorgeous guest house opened two years ago under his son Siddharth and restaurateur Abhishek Honawar. There are only five rooms, all named after different gemstones: some come with teardrop mirrors and window seats, others have cream wardrobes with a palm print door. Hang out in the library; have lunch at the in-house vegetarian café, and laze about on the lush garden terraces. You can also pre-book morning yoga lessons, meditation and Ayurvedic massages. Doubles from £100.
Where To Eat
Baradari at Jaipur City Palace
This newly renovated café will wow design fans with its boldly beautiful gold interior. Designed by Delhi-based architect Ambrish Arora, the 12-column space has an intricate chevron inlay floor (a modern take on traditional Rajasthani Leheriya, a style of tie-dye that produces wave patterns) and matching ceiling. The food is a mix of modern Rajasthani and continental and is just as special: think dishes such as blue cheese and bacon stuffed naans served with cucumber wasabi raita, roast pumpkin soup and laal maas (mutton curry). City Palace, Jaleb Chowk; +91 141 408 8888
The Kitchen at Jaipur Modern
In the same complex as fashion store Jaipur Modern, this well-designed café (zig-zag monochrome marble tabletops, a wooden feature wall) serves up fresh salads, pressed juices, pizza and pasta for lunch. All the vegetables are sourced from local farmers; the breads and desserts are made in-house daily. 51 Sardar Patel Marg;
The wonderful electric blue walls are inspired by Mughal designs; the Italian menu is reminiscent of Harry’s Bar in Venice. This buzzing restaurant and lounge, set within the Narain Niwas Palace hotel, is just the spot for cocktails and aperitivo (arancini, bruschetta, vegetable tempura) which you can eat outside around a fire pit or in the shade of a cool cabana, as peacocks strut around the lawn. Narain Singh Road;
Tapri – The Tea House
If you’re craving a good cuppa (or a glass of steaming, sweet chai), Tapri – The Tea House hits the spot with its dedicated drinks menu which features everything from oolong and white teas to rooibos. The chai and snacks – breakfast samosas with chutney, cheese chilli toasties – are all made in-house. The original outpost is Tapri Pratham but Tapri Central wins out for its rooftop terrace. B-4E Prithviraj Road, C-Scheme; +911 412 360245
No trip is complete without a visit to the City Palace, where exhibits include ceremonial armoury, royal costumes and Hindu scriptures. Adjacent lies Jantar Mantar, an observatory with Unesco World Heritage status and 19 astronomical instruments, including the world’s largest sundial. The pink sandstone Hawa Mahal Palace (which was built so the women of the royal household could observe street festivals unseen) is a sure-fire Instagram hit. Six miles outside the city, Amber Fort is an extraordinary, honey-hued sandstone and white marble palace complex.
Brothers Paritosh and Priyank Mehta have taken the idea of a traditional travelling trunk and updated it for the 21st century. They set up the business seven years ago and, since then, their bespoke, hand-crafted creations have been ordered by everyone from Indian Maharajas to the Qatar royal family. You can commission a trunk to solve virtually any storage conundrum, from jewellery to watches and perfumes to an entire music system. 133–134 Rambagh Palace, Bhawani Singh Road.
A treasure trove of textiles, this shop is crammed from floor-to-ceiling with everything from quilts and hand-block print fabrics (sold by the metre) to cushion covers and bath robes. Have a rummage and you will be rewarded. Also, if you don’t find anything you like, ask the owner to take you to his warehouse nearby where the choice is even greater. 9 East Govind Nagar, Amber Palace Road; +91 141 2633134
The courtyard of the Narain Niwas Palace hotel has a handful of must-visit shops. There’s a French flavour running through Idli (), founded by French interior and fashion designer Thierry Journo, and Hot Pink (), run by Parisian jeweller Marie-Hélène de Taillac. Both sell gorgeously colourful men’s and womenswear, home furnishings. Aashka sells an unlikely mix of kurtas, equestrian themed accessories and furniture. And Kashmiri embroidery specialist Aandrab excels with its shawls, wall hangings, throws and bedspreads in super-soft cashmere (). Kanota Bagh, Narain Singh Road; +91 141 257 0400
Renowned for championing traditional block printing, this is the place to pick up buttoned kaftans, silk blouses, striped tunics and pretty summer dresses made with vegetable-dyed hues. There’s a lovely café next door serving western food, should you fancy a pit stop, and ten minutes from the Amber Fort, the Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing if you’re feeling inspired to learn more about the history of the craft. 2nd Floor KK Square, C-11 Prithviraj Road;
The Jaipur Literature Festival, which takes place every January. It’s free (so always insanely busy) but attracts top talent such as Stephen Fry, David Hare, Don McCullin, Esther Freud and Hannah Rothschild.