There is much competition in Jaipur for the tourist dollar, in all aspects of the industry, but no more so than in the accommodation sector. Most people want the romance of nights within the walls of the old city, so for a hotel to be outside the walls and to still rank so highly on the popular traveller reference, TripAdvisor, then it has to be something pretty special. And the Pearl Palace Heritage Boutique Guesthouse is certainly that.
This place is a visual feast of a boutique hotel. Every guest room is decorated in a different historical and regional theme of the country, so no matter your tastes or interests there will be a room that you will fall in love with.
We were fortunate to experience both a deluxe room and a deluxe suite in our 3 nights at Pearl Palace Heritage. The first night we were in the newest luxury room, the Madhubani room. Each wall is filled with traditional Madhubani paintings, created by a family of artisans to produce an authentic experience for guests.
“Madhubani painting is a style of Indian painting, practiced in the Mithila region of Bihar state, India, and the adjoining parts of Terai in Nepal. Painting is done with fingers, twigs, brushes, nib-pens, and matchsticks, using natural dyes and pigments, and is characterized by eye-catching geometrical patterns. There are paintings for each occasion and festival such as birth, marriage, Holi, Surya Shasti, kali puja, Upanayanam, Durga Puja and more.” [Pearl Palace Heritage]
Looking at photos of this room online, one might think the colourful murals might overwhelm in such a room, but in reality, they are impressively lively and inspiring.
Our next two nights were spent in the Khwabgah Suite, which is an opulent mixture of royalty inspired décor from different areas of the country. The double front doors to this suite are painted silver, with a polished, old fashioned bolt and lock securing the room in your absence. This shining theme continues with the walls and internal doors, silver trimmed with accents of gold.
The surprising pluses of this suite (beyond its shininess) were the water fountain in the sitting area and the corner balcony that overlooked neighbouring rooftops and trees. The large, long room featured a central sitting area that was filled with silver chandeliers, which bounced light around the room with the help of the intricate metallic tiled mosaic borders in the ceiling. The classic ‘zig zag’ pattern of black and white marbled floor separated the bedroom from the inlayed scallops of the sitting area.
The door to the bathroom (also silver) is accented with panels of vibrant, rainbow coloured glass. This leads into one of the largest bathrooms I’ve seen in a hotel – it runs the full length of the suite providing separate areas for dressing and everything else you need to do in such a room. Flanked with white marble columns and tiled in purple, red and lime green tiles, it is visually stunning!
“Our Khwabgah Suite is decorated in the style of the Khwabgah or the Dream Palace, and as the name suggests, is the most beautiful building of the royal complex and was conceived for the emperor’s personal use.” [Pearl Palace Heritage]
As we had a choice of suites for the remainder of our stay, we were also given a tour of the Indus Suite. This was a tempting option, but the Khwabgah won out for its fountain, balcony and decadence in décor.
“The Indus room depicts the Warli folk paintings of the Warli tribe in Northern Maharashtra. Its roots can be traced to 10th century AD, used by tribesmen to embellish the walls of village houses. It was the only means of transmitting folklore. These paintings do not depict any god but depict the daily life and social events. They are painted on mud walls in one colour only. It is rare to see a straight line in Warli art.” [Pearl Palace Heritage]
The staff at Pearl Palace Heritage could not be more friendly, helpful and competent. We had many long chats with Paresh of an afternoon, talking about our adventures of the day and listening to his expert advice and suggestions about what to do and where to eat, and these words of wisdom were always spot on.
It was surprising in this busy city to wake to the dominate morning sounds of birds in the trees near our balcony combined with the chanting of the local worshippers – the tooting of horns from both cars and trains were peripheral. Our proximity to the central railway station didn’t disturb our sleep at all, which enabled well-earned rest at night after busy days of sightseeing.
The museum-like quality of the public areas of the Pearl Palace Heritage adds to the charm and interest for guests. The foyer and hallways are filled with artworks from various eras and states, which makes for an even more authentic experience. They have taken time and care to source original pieces rather than resorting to mass-produced replicas of clichéd choices that represent a generic India. I loved the old black and white photographs of film stars and kings that lined the walls of the marble staircase, the vibrant orange wall the perfect backdrop to showcase this collection.
Due to the Pearl Palace Heritage Boutique Guesthouse currently undergoing expansion to create an intimate dining room, breakfast is brought to your room every morning to enjoy leisurely before venturing out into the city. And I loved the breakfasts – we indulged in parathas (flat bread stuffed with spiced, mashed potatoes) served with yoghurt and pickle and puri aloo (puffed up unleavened wheat flour, deep fried, with curry potato), and have become quite addicted to these options! Even the breakfast menu is gold embossed on a large, glossy lacquered wooden board.
Delicious dinners can be had at the nearby original and sister hotel, Pearl Palace Hotel, and a complimentary tuk tuk can ferry you between the venues. With our late arrival in Jaipur, we were content to have our first dinner at Pearl Palace Hotel’s renowned Peacock Rooftop Restaurant, only a few blocks away. Paresh rang ahead to the restaurant at 7:30pm to secure us a table for 8:15pm, which was such a relief on a Saturday night (as guests, we had priority over general public – love the way they take care of their guests).
Reaching the restaurant we were greeted by smiling staff, twinkling lights and the sounds of traditional musical instruments. We were shown to our table at the balcony’s edge, which provided unimpeded views of both the entertainment and the skyline of the pink city. It was all exactly as we had imagined when planning this trip to Jaipur.
While they don’t serve alcohol at this restaurant, they have an extensive range of non-alcoholic beverages such as Masala tea, ‘mocktails’ and mix your own lemon and soda (which became my favourite). We had a delicious meal of spicy mixed vegetables and biryani, which was made all the more enjoyable by the atmospheric live music and the intimate table arrangements – palms and other plants punctuated table placements, providing both ambience and discretion for conversations. This all made for a perfect first night experience in Jaipur – the sounds of Indian music as we ate perfectly prepared food and gazed out over the gently lit rooftops in the darkness.
The thing that I find particularly impressive about the owners, Mr and Mrs Singh, is that they seem to have the forethought to provide amazing quality in all aspects of their business without the guests and customers paying ridiculous prices. While we didn’t have the need to sample their tours on offer (we had prearranged all our excursions before our arrival in India), we certainly enjoyed amazing value for money and excellent quality in their boutique hotel, restaurant, Inde Rooh (fabric and clothing shop) and Silver Shop (mentioned in many guidebooks). There is a fixed price in the shops and after comparing prices elsewhere, we discovered that you aren’t going to get a better deal for such quality. The same can be said for the restaurant – #1 on TA (at time of visit), yet the prices are much more reasonable than others of far lesser quality, and you certainly couldn’t beat the atmosphere of this place. Despite their success, they have resisted the greedy urge to jack prices up – demonstrating both integrity and quality.
Our stay at Pearl Palace Heritage Boutique Guesthouse was one of the most unique and memorable hotel experiences of our travels. It is no surprise that this special place has continued to rank so highly with discerning travellers; it is romantic, atmospheric and the hospitality is legendary.
Accommodation: Pearl Palace Heritage Boutique Guesthouse in Jaipur.
Tour Company: Intense India Tours