Joanna Lester-George

Hip, hip, hooray for RAAS - review of Jodhpur's first luxury boutique hotel

September 29th, 2012 | Visit the original article online

Finally a visit to ‘RAAS’ - the famously hip hotel I had heard so much about since it first opened its doors three years ago. This is Jodhpur’s first luxury boutique hotel and a particularly classy number, situated in the dreamiest of locations at the foot of the spectacular Mehrangarh Fort. So innovative and contemporarily stylish is RAAS, that there is simply nowhere in Rajasthan to compare with it.

In the olden days, the royal Queens of Jodhpur were separated from their royal husbands (and the antics of their royal husbands) by screens known as ‘jalis.’ These were latticed walls in the Zenanas, or womens’ quarters, used in place of windows to afford a seductive peek at the action below. Essentially, a kind of purdha in marble. The clever architect at RAAS has made ingenious use of this theme, and created a hotel with walls devised almost entirely from rose red sandstone screens. Offering tantalising oblong-shaped glimpses of the Fort, entire sections of the outer walls have been designed to swing open and reveal breathtaking views of Rajasthan’s most award-winning attraction.

Navigating the narrow lanes of the Blue City to find this exclusive hotel is tucked away is not easy, and the entrance is so unassuming you literally have to stumble upon it the first time around. However, a flurry of smart attendants will immediately appear to welcome you with a cool drink and a garland of flowers. Once you step inside the property, the hustle and bustle of the market place is left far behind, and you find yourself instantly relaxing into a stylish oasis of calm. In the main courtyard, there are landscaped gardens, a square infinity pool, two dining rooms with terraced and indoor seating, and a candlelit rooftop bar - all of which face directly onto the fort. It is literally a ten minute walk from your breakfast table to the main gate of Mehrangarh. Perfect.

Mirrored elevators with striking full length colour photos of local tribes’ people will whisk you smoothly up to your room or suite. Each of the thirty-nine rooms offer larger than life views of Mehranghar- with the exception of the four Garden Rooms, which have spacious grassy sit-outs as a consolation prize and are thus ideal for families. Special consideration when booking a room should be given to the Dupleixes, which open out onto a mish mash of Brahmin blue houses and of course the towering fort itself. Who could resist drinking a glass of bubbles surrounded by bubbles with such an incredible view?

I loved the discreet spaces best and there is a wide choice of chic, shady daybeds for curling up with a good book, deliciously private courtyards and cosy lounges with deep sofas. The staff are relaxed yet attentive, and there is a fabulous on-site boutique selling clothes, jewellery and locally crafted gifts. Although it may require a little effort to tear yourself away from this gorgeous hotel, the fascinating city of Jodhpur is right on your doorstep and waiting to be explored.The hotel will even provide you with a kitsch blue tuk tuk to whizz you around the tiny streets.

And so if on your travels around Rajasthan you are hoping for a quiet spot to relax, or simply an unparalleled opportunity to bask in the magnificence of Rajasthan’s most spectacular fort, RAAS is every discerning traveller's dream - stylish, supremely comfortable and without doubt one of the most stunning hotel locations in the world.