|Watching the sun set in the Thar Desert at The Serai|
Watching the sun set from The Serai’s private sand dunes with a gin and tonic in hand has to be one of the most memorable experiences of my trip to Rajasthan. Particularly given that I had made my way to the dunes via a camel ride, something The Serai organises for all its guests. The Serai is only 40 minutes drive from Jaisalmer but it feels a million miles from anywhere. The tented camp sits lightly on the land, blending in with the desert scrub to create an impression of understated luxury from the infinity pool at the centre of the camp to the tents complete with air conditioning and running water.
|Arriving by camel|
Sadly a stay at The Serai was outside my budget but I was invited there for lunch and a “sundowner” to get a taste of what the guests experience. The food at the camp was as sensational as the setting with The Serai growing its own vegetables and salad in its own vegetable garden which is a triumph of irrigation in the middle of the desert. Juicy tomatoes featured in a rich, chilled gazpacho soup (Rs 400) although the only Indian dish on the lunch menu was a vegetable pulao (Rs 750). However it was the sweet but tart pineapple sorbet which The Serai brings to any guests lying by the pool which was my favourite dish. The Serai offers the ultimate desert luxury experience although such luxury comes at a steep price.
|Vegetable pulao at The Serai|
Details: The Serai, Bherwa, Chandan, District Jaisalmer, Rajasthan 345 001, India. (Ph +91 (11) 4606 7608).
Damage: Budget Breaking. Rs 28,750 ($548/ £369) a night.
Gourmet Chick was invited to review lunch at The Serai.
|Pineapple sorbet at The Serai|
“Welcome to Paradise” beams Hotel Paradise’s owner as you walk in the door. His enthusiasm for this crumbling fort town is infectious and while Hotel Paradise may be on the basic side it is set inside Jaisalmer’s old fort walls in a building which used to belong to the Maharaja. Beautiful stone work and balconies to lounge on are a legacy of that time although the rooms look very tired and worn. The roof top restaurant serves simple vegetarian food. Tomatoes stuffed with cheese, nuts and spices (Rs 120) were home style but vibrantly flavoured.
|View of the Jaisalmer fort from the intricate balconies of Hotel Paradise|
Details: Hotel Paradise, Inside Fort, Jaisalmer – 345001, Rajasthan, India (Ph +91-2992-252674)
Damage: Such a bargain my mother would approve. Rs 1,500 a night.
|The fort just before the sun started to set. Jodhpur is known as the Blue City because of the colour of the houses.|
Roof top dining in the old town of Jodhpur doesn’t come much better than at Indique with its sweeping views of Jodhpur’s Mehrangarh fort flood lit at night time. Service was charm personified (my favourite line being “And what would the Maharani like?”) and the menu featured a range of North Indian curries and tandoor roasted meats. The mutton rogan josh was fresh and punchy with the quality of the spicing adding depth although the ginger chicken could have done with some more heat and seemed tempered for Western tastes. There was a very limited wine list, although any wine list at all is usually welcome in Rajasthan where often restaurants don’t serve alcohol at all or just serve beer. We opted for a bottle of local Sula sauvignon blanc which was clean and crisp.
|Rogan Josh by candle light at Indique|
Details: Pal Haveli, Gulab Sagar, Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India (Ph +91 291 329 3328)
This 500 year old haveli feels a bit like a home stay and a guesthouse all rolled into one. Each room is individual and ours had the most amazing mirrored ceiling and windows that reflected the interiors at Jodhpur’s famous Mehrangarh fort which is not surprising as the two were built at the same time. It was a little like staying in a museum (including possible museum pieces of bathrooms). The restaurant at Singhvi’s Haveli has an air of Bollywood about it with lots of draped cloths and cushions but the food is simple and good vegetarian fare.
Details: Singhvi’s Haveli, Navchokiya, Ramdeo Jika chowk, Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India (Ph +91 291 2624293)
Damage: Reasonable Rs 1,800 a night.
|Our bling-tastic 500 year old room at Singhvi’s Haveli|
Gourmet Travel Tips
- Kingfisher flies from London to Delhi from £500 return or China Southern Airlines flies from Melbourne to Delhi for $851 return.
- There are direct flights from Delhi to Jodphur but the other option is driving which we did. Driving yourself in India is for crazy/very brave people. We hired a driver for two weeks in Rajastan using Kumar Tourist Taxi Service. It was Rs 25,000 (£309/$488) for a driver with an air conditioned car for the 14 days. The cost included petrol, tolls and the drivers food and accomodation.