Nancy Hromin was recently a guest at the exquisite AMAN in Rajasthan, a 2 hour drive from Jaipur to the serene landscapes of the rural village of Ajabgarh, in the Alwar district. Read what she has to say about the hotel below!
Once the stomping ground of the Maharajah of Alwar as a camp for hunting parties in search of the tigers and leopards, it is now a sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of the Pink City, Jaipur.
Amanbagh is located at the foot of the Aravalli hills in Rajasthan, northwest India. This rural retreat is a destination in itself and there are plenty of activities for those in search of local culture and experience. Bike riding to the local villages, Polo on colourful camels, a jeep ride to visit the famous haunted city, known as the Pompeii of India are a few of the activities on offer. All the locals, staff and guides adamantly confirm, yes it is indeed haunted. The tales of a bygone era, entrenched in the cultural narrative and story telling of this community were mesmerising to listen to.
The welcoming ceremony, with the hauntingly beautiful voices of the staff chanting, completed with fresh flowers hung over our necks, reminds us of why Aman has a reputation for unique experiences. Discretion, understated beauty and of course, the architecture, a striking design carved out of local pink marble and sandstone, with scalloped arches creates an aesthetic that transports you to India’s golden age, a nostalgic nod to the past, seamlessly appearing modern and traditional at the same time.
Early morning yoga is complemented by afternoon meditation, facilitated by a beautiful yogi, who adjusted the practice based on individual’s needs. Of course, the majestic 33 metre green marble pool and the sun loungers that surround it are an easy meander to continue the Zen feeling. There is another 12 metre shallow pool just behind the main pool for the kiddies, and Amanbagh is family friendly, with enough space for solo travellers, couples and families to co-exist peacefully, no small feat but one which Aman does seamlessly.
The afternoon jeep ride to the local villages is a must, where you will see women in bright saris, waving while tending to the fields, children playing and old men, sitting playing cards in the shade. Our driver lamented that the women do all the work while the men just sit around, smoking, playing chess or cards, while adding he himself was not in that category and did his fair share!
Amanbagh is within the walls of an old palace with 37 rooms in total, including 15 Pool Pavilions, with its centrepiece a spectacular green marble pool. The smallest room is a whooping 125 sqm or as my travelling buddy said, twice the size of our first flat we shared many years ago in Sydney.
We stayed in the Pool Pavilion, and at a mere 203sqm, is 3 times the size of my first flat. Its features include a model version of the green marble pool which at 9 metres, beats my little plunge pool back home. The backyard large enough for a cricket game would have my husband swooning and I scream with joy at the twin walk in wardrobes. Is it possible to fall in love with a hotel? If it is Aman, you know the answer.
The quote from the famous architect Frank Gehry comes to mind as we absorb the beauty of the design:
“Architecture should speak of its time and place but yearn for timelessness”.
Let’s just say we were excited to be there!
The dining experience was equally exceptional. Although there is only one restaurant, it didn’t feel that way given the variety of both Indian and international cuisine, offering a delectable range of dishes prepared with the freshest local ingredients.
The breakfast menu was extensive, the lunch equally enticing and dinner was romantic, with the energy shifting as live local musicians changed the vibe of the space.
With a staff ratio of more than 2 to one, you only have to make the slightest of eye contact and your wish is their command. The debonair regional director, Harry Fernandez, casually and subtlety checks on each guest daily, remembering small details and snippets of previous conversations, weaving together an itinerary that was exactly what we wanted.
The monkeys, who are the original custodians of the land, surround the property and Aman employs a number of monkey men who feed them and ensure they don’t encroach on the guests. A regular reminder not to feed them, comes casually each day, to keep them at bay, and each room has a monkey stick in case you leave the door open by accident (as we did ) The cheeky critters wandered in, in search of apples, which they duly procured at our residence. They are delightful, but if you don’t like them, one of the monkey staff will discreetly keep an eye on your property and ensure they keep away.
Aman at its finest.
Air India flies to Delhi direct from Sydney and Melbourne.
From New Delhi, it is possible to travel to Amanbagh by car, train or helicopter (the property has its own heliport).
You can take a flight to Jaipur from new Delhi, followed by a two-hour journey by private car. Flights from Delhi to Jaipur depart several times daily and take between 45 and 60 minutes; flights from Mumbai depart several times daily and take an hour and 40 minutes.
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