Virtuoso Life July 2019 City Guide: Jaipur, India

City Guide: Jaipur, India

Jaipur’s red and pink sandstone Hawa Mahal palace.
Jaipur’s red and pink sandstone Hawa Mahal palace.
Photo by Atul Pratap Chauhan
Where to stay, what to eat, and what else to see in Rajasthan’s timeless Pink City.

Jaipur is hardly off the beaten path: The Rajasthani capital is a favorite for its romantic palaces and forts, and bright and blingy textiles and jewels. But in recent years, the Pink City has made a serious play for the title of India’s cultural capital, with the reinvention of the Jawahar Kala Kendra arts center, the unveiling of India’s first modern sculpture park in a timeworn, eighteenth-century palace high atop a hill at Nahargarh Fort, and gatherings such as the Jaipur Literature Festival, which lures global literary A-listers and more than a half million visitors each January. Smaller, niche museums are also vying for patronage – the Gyan and Amrapali museums, both established by some of the city’s most prominent jewelers, pay tribute to Jaipur’s generations-old reputation as the center of India’s jewelry trade.

Eat

A cheery haven in the leafy, residential Civil Lines neighborhood, tiny Cafe Kothi won a following for its vegetarian Kothi bowls – the quinoa biryani bowl and one-pot pasta are favorites – as well as for salads, breakfast wraps, and polenta Parmesan fries.
 

A classic Indian thali at Suvarna Mahal.
A classic Indian thali at Suvarna Mahal.
Photo by Atul Pratap Chauhan
For a decadent Rajasthani feast, book a table at the opulent Suvarna Mahal, the former dining room of the maharajah at the Rambagh Palace. Tuck into a classic thali with dal baati churma (lentils with fried wheat), gatta curry with dumplings, and more.
 
Laxmi Mishthan Bhandar is almost as much of a landmark as the nearby City Palace (both date to the 1720s): Locals have sated sweet tooths here for nearly 300 years. It’s tough to choose between milk cake, mawa kachori (puffed pastry with sweet cheese filling) and other Rajasthani favorites; luckily, they pack well for travel.
Bar Palladio.
Bar Palladio.
Photo by Atul Pratap Chauhan

Drink

Italy meets India at popular Bar Palladio, a striking blue watering hole that’s an atmospheric fusion of the two cultures’ aesthetics. Settle into one of the banquettes below the frescoed walls inside or opt to sit on a blue-and-white-tented daybed outside, where you might find a stray peacock for company.
 
At the City Palace museum – part of which is still home to Jaipur’s royal family – Baradari makes for a regal night out. Sip Negronis and pomegranate martinis amid the sexy lighting and modern finishes of its charming courtyard.
 
No trip to Jaipur is complete without a stop at Lassiwala, a no-frills stall that has plied locals with sweetened yogurt lassis served in clay cups for 75 years.
 

Shop

Brothers Siddharth and Samarth Kasliwal are the ninth generation to run The Gem Palace, a jewelry emporium with outposts across India and even on New York’s Upper East Side. But their Jaipur flagship is, understandably, closest to their hearts, and they’ve recently remade it in brilliant shades of pink nearly as beguiling as the baubles within.
 
Colorful wares at Parampara.
Colorful wares at Parampara.
Photo by Atul Pratap Chauhan
Parampara concept store brims with local and global finds: rugs by From Jaipur with Love, Colombian mochila bags from Verdi, Shalia resort wear, and shoes and more from the house label of Parampara’s co-owner, Jaipur-based Colombian designer Virginia Borrero de Castro.
 
The Kanota center is a cluster of sleek fashion, accessories, and housewares emporiums. Browse totes and cushion covers at The Jaipur Collective, jewelry at Umrao and Surabhi, antiques at O’d’ Gulabee, housewares at Anantaya, and airy dresses and tunics at French designer Thierry Journo’s colorful boutique Idli.

Where to Sleep: Hotels in Jaipur

Rambagh Palace

Get your bearings at Rambagh Palace by taking a spin around the 47-acre property in one of its four vintage cars, say, the sky-blue 1937 Ford V35. The historic royal abode welcomes travelers with 78 rooms and five restaurants and bars. Local tradition has it that losing teams at the adjacent Rajasthan Polo Club buy winners a round at the hotel’s beloved Polo Bar. Virtuoso travelers breakfast daily and lunch or dinner once during stay.

The Oberoi Rajvilas, Jaipur

Roughly 20 minutes outside the city, the 71-room Oberoi Rajvilas, Jaipur is a fort-like retreat from the hubbub, complete with traditional Rajasthani-style arches, turrets, and pavilions. But the star is the spa, set in a converted eighteenth-century haveli and home to treatments such as sandalwood body wraps and jasmine facials. Virtuoso travelers receive breakfast daily and lunch or dinner once during stay.

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