A Rajasthan Adventure

I was warned that India would be a ‘massive culture shock’, but also reassured by two of my best friends that it was the ‘most amazing place’ they had ever visited. And so I boarded the plane with trepidation and excitement about what my two weeks in Rajasthan held in store.



Delhi was our first stop in India. With a population of around 25 million it is the second most popular city in the country, after Mumbai. Though not as immediately beautiful as other parts of Rajasthan there are plenty of pretty places to admire and learn about in the city. I recommend visiting the impressive Red Fort, built originally for the emperors, and Raj Ghat is a peaceful park with a memorial where Gandhi’s ashes were scattered.

Hauz Khas village is a trendy neighbourhood where you’ll stumble across hip shops like Nappa Dori, who make leather accessories and stationery. Dilli Haat is also a good market to visit, especially if you are looking for Indian materials and souvenirs to take home. There are some very prestigious fine dining restaurants now established in Delhi, but we decided on the more casual United Coffee House for lunch, a traditional restaurant with a great atmosphere and flavoursome food. We chose to ‘go vegetarian’ for the entirety of our trip: while good restaurants in India should be reliable, it seemed easier to just cut meat and fish entirely to help us steer clear of tummy bugs.

We stayed at Lutyens Bungalow, a lovely family-run b&b which offers simple but stylish bedrooms and delicious home-cooked meals. Tuk tuks are a fun and cheap way to get around, but do haggle with the driver to get a fair price.

Taj Mahal


The only reason to visit Agra is to see the magnificent Taj Mahal. Stay at the nearby Trident Hotel, which is smart and reasonably priced. It is best to see the Taj at sunrise so wake up early and get in line for this world wonder. The glowing white temple was a labour of love built by 20,000 workers over 20 years, completely made from ivory marble for Maghal Emperors Shar Jahan’s wife’s tomb.

The Agra Fort is another nice site, with an amazing series of red and white buildings. We had a tasty meal at Dasaprakash, a local restaurant which serves vegetarian thali with dosae and sweet lassi.



Jaipur is known as the pink city as most of the buildings in the old town are painted a dark shade of pink. It is said that the city was painted this colour to welcome the Prince of Wales in 1876. I loved this artistic city, the stunning architecture and the magical history. We stayed a little outside the city at The Farm, a relaxed eco-hotel which has creatively decorated rooms and wonderful regional cuisine.

There are so many important sites to see, we managed to tick off the grand Amer Fort (with painted elephant trail), the floating water palace Jal Mahal, the sundials at Jantar Mantar and the Jaipur city palace. For something a little different visit the Anokhi Museum to learn about the art of block printing.

It’s worth spending an afternoon wandering the streets of central Jaipur. There is endless street food to try, if you dare. We indulged in sweet kachoris at Ram Dev’s, kulfi (Indian ice-cream) at Randit Kulfi and fragrant chai from Sahu Chaiwalla. We also stopped at Tikam Chand’s old-fashioned photobooth in the street, for a black and white portrait taken with his 1860s Zeis camera.

The second morning we headed to Phool Mandi, a vibrant local market which sells flowers, vegetables and spices. Afterwards I couldn’t resist travelling out of town to visit Kalpana, an amazing paper making factory, which sells the most unusual handmade stationery.

For a very luxurious experience, the Sujan Hotel – Raj Mahal Palace is the perfect spot to enjoy afternoon tea… ask to sit in the 51 Shades of Pink room!



This bright and sunny city enjoys warm weather all year round. Many of the houses in the old city are painted blue, which looks amazing from up high. Mehrangarah Fort offers some of the best views of the blue city and is also a wondrous and educational museum to explore, best to visit in the morning when there are less tourists around.

We stayed in the stylish RAAS Jodhpur, a historic hotel, located in the centre of town but carefully hidden amongst the narrow streets. Ask the hotel reception about having a little trip out in their baby blue tuk tuk. We ate many of our meals in the hotel, but when we did venture out we enjoyed the vegetarian cuisine at Jhankar.

There are lots of shopping streets in Jodhpur. I had great fun choosing bangles for my family at Bibaji Churi Wale. This tiny shop has the best selection of glass bracelets in an endless variety of patterns and colours. A box of ten will cost you around £1.50.



For a quiet few days’ escape from the chaotic Rajasthani cities, head to Rohet, a rural countryside town which offers visitors a more authentic side to India. Choose to stay in the one of the luxury hotel rooms, or opt for the tents in the wilderness, for the full immersive experience. During your stay you will be taken on a village safari to see local wildlife like Blackbug antelopes and Siberian cranes and meet different tribes who live nearby (we even took part in an opium ceremony with the Bramen elderly men).



This enchanting city is a must on any Rajasthan itinerary. This scenic city is on the water, and a few of the most luxurious hotels are only reachable by boat. Devi Garh, on the outskirts of town, is a lovely tranquil place to stay, with panoramic views and magnificent suite rooms. If you’d rather stay in town, Leela Udaipur is a decadent and special option, with regal decor, thoughtful service and outstanding food.

For an alternative tourist experience, pay for a driver to take you in a tour in a vintage Chevrolet Fleet Master and enjoy the views while learning about Udaipur’s history. The main tourist site is the City Palace, an ornate building which has been beautifully restored to its former glory.

Udaipur has plenty to tempt keen shoppers, Hathipol road is a great place to buy gold and silver jewellery, and I loved the artists’ workshops which sell the miniature paintings for which the city has become known.

RAAS Devigarh

An hour away from Udaipur, nestled amongst the Aravalli hills, sits the historic Devi Garh fort. The site has recently been taken over by the Raas hotel group and is the second heritage property in their lovely collection. From the outside the walls are worn down with a faded charm, but inside this palatial property has been immaculately restored with relics and reminders of its glory days.

Guests are showered with rose petals as they enter the majestic fort and within moments of stepping inside I felt like royalty. We were handed glasses of homemade rose lemonade as beautifully dressed staff escorted us round the huge property, pointing out stunning viewpoints, original building features and artistic design quirks. Each flight of stone steps revealed a new intimate courtyard or picturesque veranda, I quickly realised how special this place was.

There are 39 rooms in the all-suite luxury hotel. Each is decorated in a different style with unique silk cushions and works of art to complement the room. Top of the range is the decadent presidential Devi Garh suite, which comes complete with private pool, terrace and Jacuzzi. Eventually we arrived at our Palace Suite number 36, a beautiful room in the Lotus Courtyard. Inside the spacious suite there was a pristine marble bed and tables, and a rainbow display of miniature Krishna paintings adorning the main bedroom wall. The bathroom was also made almost entirely from white marble, with windows offering views over the hills and nearby villages. Toiletries are from luxury Indian brand Forest Essentials and we relished the opportunity to wear the traditional patterned robes, a very elegant loungewear option.

There is only one restaurant, a pleasant indoor dining room with a deck outdoors and terrace upstairs. On the exterior walls of the restaurant, 255-year-old painted frescoes depict local scenes; inside the restaurant is minimalist and stylish. Choose from the menu of vibrant Rajasthani dishes, freshly made breads, creamy spicy curries and unusual vegetarian snacks. Breakfast is also served here; exotic fruit plates and a range of cooked recipes from omelettes to more traditional Indian delicacies.

The hotel is rightly proud of its magnificent Holy bath style swimming pool, sunken into the building with sun loungers lining the edge. If I had stayed at the hotel longer I could have enjoyed day after day relaxing here, soaking up the sun and enjoying the epic panoramic views. When you do wish to travel off-site Devi Garh offer complimentary horse and camel rides every day from 4-6pm, giving guests the chance to see some of the surrounding land from a different viewpoint. The hotel staff are also happy to arrange excursions and day trips, and can offer advice on itineraries depending on your preferences. I highly recommend booking a vintage car tour of Udaipur. We loved riding in a 1947 Chevrolet Fleetmaster whilst admiring the lakes of the city, although it is quite expensive… A 45-minute journey will cost you 7000 INR (£70).

This rare and magnificent 255-year-old fort is an awe-inspiring place to stay. Those seeking culture will enjoy trips to the idyllic nearby town of Udaipur, but it will thrill travellers most who hope for an extraordinary secluded haven to admire Rajasthan at its finest.

More information and book a stay at RAAS Devigarh here.

The Leela Palace, Udaipur

Udaipur is known as the Venice of the East. This charming lakeside destination is one of the lesser known Rajasthani cities, but is the perhaps the most beautiful I visited. There are plenty of five star hotels to choose from in Udaipur, but I highly recommend the regal Leela Palace, a luxurious abode which offers faultless service and the finest facilities.

We were collected in one of hotel’s white BMWs and dropped at the private jetty to get a boat across to the hotel. It is a charming way to reach the property, and a lovely opportunity to see the city from the water. Back on land we were greeted with cascading rose petals dropped from a balcony above us and serenaded with traditional Indian music.

To make our one night at The Leela Palace Udaipur particularly memorable the management team upgraded us to room 305, the Royal Suite. This magnificent apartment in the palace wing had ornate high dome ceilings, a glittering chandelier and impressive artwork depicting local royalty. After exploring the living room, I found the lavish bedroom with a giant four-poster bed topped with opulent silk cushions. The walk-in wardrobe and marble bathroom felt grown up and exciting to use, with numerous gadgets concealed within their clever design. Everything you could need can be found in the Royal Suite, including a spacious dining room and practical kitchen, and a butler is on hand to make sure your stay is perfect. Unfortunately in my short stay of just 24 hours I couldn’t spend as much time as I wanted to in this incredible suite, but I did have time to admire the beautiful details, craftsmanship and indulgent touches.

The hotel has 80 rooms in total offering spectacular lake and garden views. Thanks to the modern design all bedrooms are spacious and thoughtfully arranged. In the hotter months the plunge pool rooms and suites are particularly popular.

When you are not in your room, there are plenty of stunning communal spaces to enjoy. Each night the inner courtyard hosts live music and dancing, while artistic guests may wish to join the daily heritage tour of the hotel’s art and artefacts with the in-house historian.

Poolside lounging feels very extravagant thanks to the attentive staff who bring out fresh iced tea and cooling flannels. Casual food is available all day and is delivered in picnic hampers. I loved the falafel wrap, a welcome break from curry and spice.

Udaipur is beautiful during the day but at night it truly sparkles and the Leela Palace lakeside restaurant Sheesh Mahal is the ideal place to sit and appreciate your surroundings. It is only luxury hotel restaurant that also welcomes outside visitors, though with only a limited number of tables bookings are essential. It was wonderfully romantic when we sat and enjoyed a glass of local Sula wine and an epic Indian feast. The kitchen excel at regional Rejasthani dishes, most memorable was the spicy and creamy Hyderabadi Khatte Baingan (eggplant cooked with tomatoes and tamarind) and the assorted vegetarian kebab platter.

Breakfast can be enjoyed in your own room or downstairs in the main Dining Room where an abundant buffet is put on each morning. We opted for fresh waffles, exotic fruit and coffee, but if you are feeling brave, try some of the Indian delicacies.

Hidden in the foliage of the grounds is the serene ESPA Spa, a place for reflecting and relaxing. I was amazed at how my body responded to the two hour signature Ayurvedic treatment. This intensive massage treatment began with a brief consultation to determine my ‘dosha’ type before my therapist (Tashi) commenced with a foot ritual. She recognised both pitta and vatta tendencies and used specific oils and massage techniques to soothe and balance my body.

The next morning I returned to the spa for a private yoga class. This quiet and meditative class clears your mind before the day ahead and strengthens the core muscles.

Usually in a new city I am desperate to get out and explore, but the Leela Palace in Udaipur completely won me over. I just wanted to stay at this beautiful hotel and experience everything it has to offer. After a brief but beautiful stay I was sad to float back to reality on the mainland.

More information and book a stay at The Leela Palace Udaipur here.