A visit to Jaisalmer had been on our wish-list for several years, ever since we moved to Gurgaon. It demands more than a long weekend though. And with a child who hates car rides, it wasn’t an easy trip to pull off.
When the Jodhpur – Jaisalmer – Bikaner road trip did get planned for December last year, I was delighted. We wanted to stay at Suryagarh, a plush boutique hotel about 15 kilometres outside the Jaisalmer city. December is the start of the peak season for Rajasthan; and there were no rooms available with the hotel directly. Luxury Escapes – a boutique travel services firm – came to rescue. They pulled some magic, got us 2 rooms of our choice and promptly did the bookings for us.
Jaisalmer is a dream destination not just for foreign tourists visiting India for its exotic charms, but even for a Rajasthani as I. Its fort is worth a visit, despite being commercialised and touristy. The numerous havelis inside the old town with their detailed carvings, built in yellow sandstone as the fort, give a glimpse into the glorious past of the city. Spend a night in the Thar Desert under a thousand stars, and let the weariness of living in loud urban areas wash away.
A bit weary from the road trip from Jodhpur, and looking to reach the hotel room after crossing Jaisalmer city, we were delighted by the first sight of the fort-like property looming large on a hill top. The warm welcome in the guest area – the refreshing drink, the cold towel to wipe away the grime, the artifacts from a bygone era – took away the travel fatigue. And after the quick check-in process while seated in the guest area, we were shown to our room.
The property offers 72 accommodations across 2 floors, and there are rooms, suites and havelis to choose from. Suites and rooms both are available in 3 categories each, differing in size and amenities. Havelis are stand-alone suites created around courtyards to give an intimate, private experience. We had chosen the fort room for our stay.
The hotel has beautiful public spaces at each floor, done up in Rajasthani style, and sitting areas that provide endless nooks and corners to read a book.
Nosh is the all-day-open dining area that serves both Indian and International cuisine. Legend of Marwad is their speciality restaurant and serves food made by authentic recipes handed over the past generations. Draksh, the bar at one end of the central courtyard, is done up very tastefully. But it did not stock the traditional rajasthani liqueur I was hoping to try.
The food here is made special by the dining experience in the central courtyard. Make sure you book a table for dinner in the courtyard in advance, as it gets filled quickly each evening.
The breakfast spread is good. There is a large buffet, with Rajasthani, Indian and International selection. You can start your day with healthy continental selection – fruits, juices, museli, eggs or have Indian regional options that change on a daily basis.
The staff got us to indulge in delectable Indian treats – parathas, kachoris, even jalebis prepared fresh. I stopped counting calories completely! The hospitality here – the manager chatting with guests each morning, the staff gently pressing upon us to try newer treats, to have another cup of masala chai or their artisanal coffee – made our stay welcoming and personal.
For my daughter, the best part each morning was the gaggle of domestic animals that the hotel brings to the courtyard – a peacock strutting about, a baby donkey trying to chew the stuffed pillow from the kids’ hands, a tortoise sunning itself in the courtyard and some white masakalis shying away from the guests under the charpai.
Also read – Weekend getaways from Delhi: Escape to the hills
There is an indoor pool, fitness centre and spa on the hotel premises. The indoor pool, though is not heated and when we visited in December, was too cold for us to use. Foreign guests who are used to cooler water did make use of the pool. The hotel offers several activities on their premises like cooking classes, yoga and meditation sessions, and one can be easily occupied in the hotel itself for a couple of days.
Do step out to see the beauty that is Jaisalmer. The hotel can arrange a visit to all popular local attractions like the Jaisalmer fort, historic mansions in the old city, Sam dunes, Bada Bagh and more. It also offers some unique experiences – excursions that take you into the Thar Desert – like camel safari trail, midnight haunted trail and the historic temple trail for the adventurous.
We chose to explore the local attractions ourselves since we had access to our car. After the sightseeing during the day, lounging in the hotel’s organic garden with rows of neat herbs, flowering plants, trees and watching the sun go down, was a wonderful way to relax. The evening cultural program – open only to hotel guests – is a good introduction to Rajasthani folk singing and dancing, and a delightful way to cap the night.
Tel: (+91) – 78271 51151