Gabby Deeming uncovers the jewels in the capital of Rajasthan: the best places to shop, stay and enjoy a cocktail or two
The stylish place to drink
No design lover should leave Jaipur without having sipped a drink in Bar Palladio (), the most remarkable of settings. The experience begins in the grounds of the Narain Niwas Palace hotel (). You enter the bar via a garden, where blue and white canopied divans piled with block-printed cushions host a relaxed cocktail crowd around flaming fire pits. The interior is a series of smaller rooms, each its own wonderland, where hand-painted murals of blue and white flowers provide a fanciful backdrop. Bar Palladio was designed by Marie-Anne Oudejans, the founder of fashion brand Tocca. She drew inspiration from royal Mughal style and the intimacy and warmth of Venetian stalwarts such as Harry's Bar and Caffè Florian, even bringing in an Italian chef from Hotel Villa Cipriani, but her interpretation feels new. After a week in Jaipur, the home of block-printing, I thought I had seen it all, but the upholstery here presented completely new ideas. From the carved stone bar to the hand-painted walls and aforementioned printed textiles, everything was created in Jaipur by local craftspeople. The chef cooks Northern Italian food with a nod to India and the cocktail list is extensive and every bit as inventive as the surroundings.
Where to stay
Staying at 47 Jobner Bagh () elicits that rather guilty pleasure where you feel sorry for people who are staying in other hotels because you have found a hidden gem. This guest house was designed and built with great love and care by Shiva Gujar, his wife Anita and their friends. Set in a small and lovely garden on a residential street, the building is colonial in style with wonderful curved jali-screen balconies. The hotel is small, with just 10 simple rooms designed by an Italian architect; it has polished concrete floors, tadelakt-plastered bathrooms and the softest vintage Gudri quilts on the beds. My room had simple antique wooden furniture and a great little balcony with banana-leaf blinds - a perfect place for the mind to wander after a hectic day's shopping. Dotted throughout the garden are relaxed areas for reading or enjoying a sundowner and there is also a roof terrace with a view of the Aravalli Range, with its Nahargarh ('home of tigers') Fort and Ganesh Temple. Anita oversees the kitchen in the ground-floor restaurant; the home-cooked Rajasthani food is delicious. There is also a charming spa and a small antique shop overseen by Shiva and Anita's daughter, Megha. Rooms cost from £75 per night, including breakfast.
Where to shop
Pace yourself, because there is much to buy in Jaipur. The Love Jaipur, Rajasthan guide by Fiona Caulfield is essential reading (). For block-printed textiles, try Anokhi () or Jaipur Modern (), while Idli (idlidesign.com) is a must for home accessories and clothing.
Taken from the February 2016 issue of House & Garden.
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