In the perfumed gardens of a maharaja’s palace, a cool retreat blends Eastern and Western wellness treatments. At Rajvilas, ritual purification, a centuries-old tradition in India, is reinterpreted through herbal body care, aromatherapy massage, and deep-cleansing facials.
The location says it all: Jaipur. A city of storybook forts and palaces, of polo-playing maharajas and colorful desert people, and the source of ayurveda—traditional natural healing for purity of body and mind.
This sumptuous palace was built in 1727, amid parched, pale desert. Restored in 1995 as the jewel in the crown of the Oberoi Hotel Group, the stunning public rooms and guest suites are nothing less than regal. Rajvilas brings past and present together in a glorious fusion of styles.
Water gardens that would have delighted royal princesses now harbor a lavish spa complex devoted to soothing body and soul. The spa is a private hideaway for hotel guests. The setting is graced by a 250-year-old Shiva temple surrounded by a lotus pond, fragrant herb garden, and 25-meter lap pool. Managed by the international Banyan Tree Group, the spa is housed in the original building on the site, a classic Rajasthani mansion called a haveli. The ornate interior features treatment rooms for both holistic Western and ayurvedic relaxation and pampering, a whirlpool in an open-to-the-sky courtyard, shaded terraces for meditation, and an air-conditioned gymnasium outfitted with the very latest exercise equipment.
Enhancing your enjoyment of the spa are ready supplies of cold towels, fresh juices, herbal teas, and a light cuisine. There are massage suites with private lounge and recreation areas, individual Finnish saunas, steam rooms, separate hot and cold plunge pools, and showers for men and women.
Guest rooms are an architectural amalgam of traditional Rajasthani flat-roofed houses and havelis. Clustered around courtyards, each building is hand-decorated with colorful frescoes depicting tropical birds and flowers. The rooms are an eclectic blend of colonial and Indian influences, furnished with four-posters, dhurrie rugs, and wicker. Sunken marble baths look onto secluded gardens. Dramatically lit at night by flaming torches, the fort’s central courtyard has a dais where traditional dances are performed while you dine in an open-air section of the restaurant.
For a touch of desert living, you can stay in a tent that a prince might have used while on safari. Appointed with teak floors and campaign chests, as well as cool white and beige block-print fabrics, these cloistered tents are perhaps the most distinctive accommodations in Oberoi hotels, which can be found from Bali to Lombok, London to Hong Kong .
Rajvilas offers an exotic retreat, complete with elephant ride at the Amber Fort. Located thirty minutes from the Jaipur airport, it is another world.
Accommodations: Sixty-eight rooms in small clusters of traditional houses and tents. Private villas (three) have swimming pool. All are air-conditioned, with marble bathroom, sunken tub.
Meals: Gourmet European and Indian cuisine served in the Surya Mahal Restaurant. Spa menu available a la carte.
Facilities: Separate wings for men and women, each containing changing and rest rooms, sauna, steam room, plunge pool, therapy rooms. Gymnasium with Cybex and LifeFitness equipment. Salon for hair and nail care. Tennis on two floodlit courts, heated swimming pool.
Services & Special Programs: Yoga, meditation, massage, ayurvedic full-body massage, body wrap, facial, shirodhara (head massage), Swedish massage, aromatherapy, eye treatments.
Getting There: Jaipur can be accessed either by rail, air, or road from Delhi. Complimentary transfers to hotel from airport or railway station. A helipad is on the grounds.
What’s Nearby: The Amber Fort, Jagarth Fort, the “Pink City” of Jaipur, Ramgarth, Jantar Mantar Observatory.