Imagine arriving in Jaipur in the middle of the morning rush hour. The incessant beeping of horns, drivers cutting lanes with impunity, inconvenient detours due to the on-going metro construction – general chaos. Now, imagine turning off the road into a tall, arched doorway, and stepping through the reception area into an oasis of serenity, where the trees cast dappled shadows, and where you can actually hear birds twittering. You walk up to a stately haveli, the colour of golden shortbread, with terracotta coloured jharokhas. That’s Alsisar Haveli for you – a quiet spot in the bustle of Jaipur, a getaway guaranteed to soothe your senses.
Arriving at Alsisar Haveli
Our morning flight from Mumbai touched down in Jaipur on time and we promptly booked our taxi from the airport. The hotel does arrange airport pick-up and drop, but we opted for an Uber. Alsisar Haveli is 12 kilometres from the airport and it took us about 30 minutes in peak morning traffic. The city’s metro is being upgraded to bring the service to Old Jaipur, so there were a few diversions on the way. However, the haveli is marked on Google Maps, so we didn’t have any difficulty making our way to it. Our check-in was quick and my husband and I were handed our free Wi-Fi codes. Wi-Fi access is very good all over the property, and it’s reasonably fast.
Our room was on the first floor. We made our way through the Sheesh Mahal (more about it below), and past the lovely, tree-lined inner courtyard and up two flights of stairs. The room door was bordered by a colourful, traditional design, and was topped with a stained glass arch. The room was very spacious, with high ceilings and vintage furniture. I loved the massive four-poster bed, with soft wine-red drapes and pristine white sheets and pillows. The ceiling was bordered with a toran-style design and the arches in the room were painted in delicate pink and green floral patterns. The dressing/writing table at one end of the room was equipped with a kettle, along with tea and coffee paraphernalia. There were two large, comfortable armchairs done up in deep burgundy upholstery and a small dining table. A wooden armoire in the corner held extra blankets and pillows. The bathroom was also large with a separate glass shower cubicle. Basic toiletries were provided and there was a hair dryer at our disposal as well. Our room had several windows, all of which opened into terracotta jharokas that looked out over the front courtyard, patio and garden of the haveli. Some rooms faced the garden or the swimming pool. Overall, we really loved our room – it was comfortable, well appointed and beautifully done up. Since we had visited in winter, it was quite cold, but the staff was helpful and supplied us with a small heater, which made the room quite warm and snug.
We had a brief chat with Dhruv Singh Alsisar, the owner of the haveli, on the day we arrived. He proudly showed us around the place, part of which is his family’s current residence. Imagine living in a place like this! ‘Our family is from the Shekhawat clan, and we hail from Alsisar where we have our fort, now a heritage hotel called Alsisar Mahal’, said Dhruv. ‘This haveli was built in 1892 and used to be our family’s town house. We refurbished the place and converted it into a heritage hotel in 1994’, he elaborated. Dhruv took us to the Sheesh Mahal, a stunning room with hundreds of mirrors on the walls and ceiling, richly coloured designs on the walls, several ancestral portraits, and beautiful light fixtures, including two elaborate chandeliers. ‘In the olden days, this room was used by the ladies of the house; now it’s a common lounge for guests’, said Dhruv. He also showed us around the impressive dining room, truly fit for the kings. There’s a beautiful long table, perfect for large parties, as well as several smaller tables, all featuring vintage furniture. Dhruv pointed out portraits of his great-great-grandfather and great-grandfather, as well as several royal family members. The arches in the dining room were decorated with colourful, traditional motifs. ‘The golden colour that you see on those arches is colour made from actual gold leaf’, said Dhruv.
Alsisar Haveli has been made for lounging about. There are cosy nooks everywhere, complete with comfy chairs and couches, most of which are vintage. The lounge area just off the front courtyard is warm and welcoming, its arches flanked by stone elephants, with the marigold decorated fountain in the front. There are wicker chairs and tables – a great place to catch up with the owners or have an impromptu get-together. The lounge is richly decorated, with a beautiful mural of Radha, Krishna and the gopis in the background. Upstairs near our room, there was another seating area in a long corridor (connecting the rooms), which I found was the perfect place to relax with my book. But the most beautiful lounge is, of course, the Sheesh Mahal. A close second is the charming lounge on the terrace above our room, complete with white, wrought iron garden chairs. From the terrace you can see parts of Jaipur sprawled below, and the Nahargarh fort in the distance.
Much has been said about the food in Rajasthan – rich, delicious, (usually) fried, sweet and savoury. The true taste of Rajasthani food is found on the streets and in people’s homes. But Alsisar Haveli’s kitchen has made an effort to introduce its guests to traditional, local food. On offer is a Rajasthani thali (both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options are available), which you need to order in advance. We ordered the non-veg thali for our dinner on the first night itself, and came down to the dining hall salivating in anticipation! And it did not disappoint. It was a royal feast of sorts – a heavy plate polished to perfection and lined with 8 bowls, each containing a local delicacy. Three bowls formed the iconic Rajasthani trinity of daal-baati-choorma – ghee-drenched, piping hot baati (deep fried balls made from wheat, semolina, milk and spices), along with a semi-sweet choorma (sweetened wheat and semolina ball, deep fried in ghee and then crumbled), topped with a deliciously spicy mixed lentils daal – the perfect dish for winters in the desert state. The thali had other regional specialties such as gatte ki sabzi (curry with gram flour dumplings) and ker sangri (a spicy vegetable preparation of desert berries and beans). Our non-veg thali came with a spicy mutton curry, full of tender meat pieces. There was of course, dal, rice, roti, salad, papad and another sabzi as well. As delectable as it was, we could not finish the thali (though we tried our best!).
After dinner we took a walk around the haveli and eventually came up to a puppeteer who had set up his performance theatre near the entrance to the swimming pool. He, along with his assistant on a dholak, regaled us with a short puppet show featuring the kings, queens and courtesans of Rajasthan. The puppets were beautifully made and hand-painted, and we decided to purchase a pair of king and queen puppets, decked up in bright fuchsia and gold royal garments.
Pool & Spa
The haveli’s pool is a stunner. Its deep blue waters are surrounded by domed pavilions, which house olive green deck chairs. The pavilions have a striking peacock design on the wall, bedecked in glass, which reflects the blue pool quite prettily.
Alsisar Haveli has a small spa, called Tattva, and I decided to spend one lazy afternoon pampering myself while my husband worked in the room. The spa offers several massages and treatments and I opted for a short 30-minute head massage. The therapist was well trained, and the massage was very relaxing – I almost fell asleep, which as we all know, is a sign of a good massage! The treatment also included a deep conditioner being applied on my tresses, which left my hair smooth and frizz-free.
Old Jaipur’s markets are legendary for some excellent shopping – fabrics, jewellery, footwear, there’s so much choice and the pricing is quite reasonable as well (for the most part). Alsisar Haveli has its very own curio shop, Tokree, which is on the first floor above the reception. The access is via a spiral staircase in the garden. The shop has an eclectic collection of clothes, jewellery, footwear, souvenirs and knick-knacks. I especially loved the summery kurtas in whites and pastels, as well as the contemporary jewellery range incorporating semi-precious stones. Tokree is the perfect place to buy Jaipur souvenirs or gifts from.
Alsisar Haveli is very centrally located and the old, walled city is a short rickshaw ride away. Most of Jaipur’s iconic locations such as Hawa Mahal, City Palace, Jantar Mantar and the market areas are easily accessible. The busy M I Road with its shops, cafes and restaurants is also a short distance away, as are the foodie delights of Rawat Mishthan Bhandar on Station Road (try the pyaaz kachori) and Lakshmi Mishthan Bhandar in Johari Bazaar (best ghevar in the city!). The famous lassiwala (Shop No. 312) on M I Road is a must-visit for his yummy lassi topped with a thick layer of cream. Just a cautionary note – Google Maps may tell you that everything is at a walking distance, but know that roads are largely devoid of footpaths and traffic is chaotic (and loud). Hire a rickshaw from outside the haveli, and don’t forget to negotiate a price before hand.
A few highlights of my stay at Alsisar Haveli
- Alsisar Haveli is just 3 kilometres from the city centre, so it’s very convenient for sightseeing and shopping excursions.
- The Haveli itself is located in a quiet nook of the city, providing much-needed respite from the bustle of Jaipur.
- The rooms are beautifully done up, with vintage furniture and basic amenities. Try getting a room on the first floor, facing the front courtyard, patio and garden. These have a lovely, ‘green’ view.
- We loved the authentic Rajasthani thali experience at Alsisar Haveli, with local specialties such as daal-baati-choorma, gatte ki sabzi and ker sangri.
- The pool is gorgeous and very inviting, the perfect place to relax on a hot summer day!
For reservations, find out more here.
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