Surprise, exhilaration, awe…these are some emotions experienced when you stumble upon a rare find in an unexpected locale. It is not at all surprising that these very emotions surface as you enter the pol (gates) of Raas-the boutique hotel in the old walled city of Jodhpur.
The labyrinth of crowded lanes, the myriad hued market and the cacophony of the city will leave you totally unprepared for the secret that will unfold the moment you step in through the grand wooden pol.
The walled city of Jodhpur (the city was walled until 1949) itself has a lot to offer to the discerning traveler. Colourful markets pulsating with life and a general sense of infectious abandon define this city that seems to be bursting at the seams with wares — from grains and spices to jewellery and clothes. Blue coloured buildings — dwellings of the Brahmins (priests) — led to the city being christened ‘the blue city’. The Brahmapuris (homes of Brahmins) are lime washed with a hint of indigo in order to repel insects and offer some respite from the sweltering heat.
The walled city is rich in history and today six pols (gates) serve as grand remnants of a glorious past. Known as a shopper’s paradise, the clock tower bazaar is quite famous and Raas is just a stone’s throw away from the tower.
Set in an area of an acre and a half of beautifully landscaped and terraced gardens, Raas is a group of four grand restored structures and three new ones that are built in rose-red sandstone. In the background, majestic and imposing, is the Mehrangarh Fort that seems to envelope this boutique hotel in its benevolent shadow, and presenting a spectacular view!
Talkings of views, thirty five of the thirty nine rooms are fort facing and the guests can enjoy the stunning view.
The remaining four suites have private gardens and overlook the old buildings. Nevertheless, they get a slice of the magnificent fort as well – huge mirrors, strategically placed in these suites present the reflection of the fort!
The peace and quiet here is palpable, the sound of gurgling water in the courtyards soothing, the hospitality and service exceptional and the unparalleled view- can you get enough of it, ever?!!
Raas offers an ideal mind and body rejuvenating experience, far away from the madding crowd yet not entirely cut off. You can get into the thick of things in a heartbeat if you wish to – the hotel’s quaint tuk-tuks will take you on an exhilarating ride through the maze of lanes, where you can explore the markets and do some sightseeing.
And then you have Raas to get back to after an action packed day. Untouched by the maelstrom outside, this luxurious haven has a mesmerising quality; it is hard to put your finger on it though.
Is it the glorious history of the old buildings, the spectacular fort presenting unsurpassed views, the impeccable gardens,
and alcoves offering utmost privacy or the luxurious rooms and non-intrusive yet excellent service?
I guess you only know the answer once you embrace ‘Raas’.
An idyllic holiday calls for a relaxing spa sojourn – The Serena Spa housed in the erstwhile women’s purdah (veil) quarter offers rejuvenating massages and beauty treatments.
Preserving such a treasure trove of heritage would not have been possible without great effort. The credit goes to enterprising siblings Dhananjaya Singh and Nikhilendra Singh for getting the 18th century haveli (palace) and the other buildings restored.
All design additions and modern comforts have been incorporated without taking away from the traditional charm of the place.
Lotus Praxis Initiative helped realise their vision. Local materials like sheesham wood and sandstone lend a unique charm to this luxurious boutique hotel where traditional Rajasthani hospitality is in whispered conversation with contemporary design chic.
Muted colour palettes and sleek clean lines reign supreme in the interiors of Raas, although the smooth intermingling of traditional and modern elements is evident in the various facets. The skill and talent of local artisans and craftsmen is exemplified in the beautiful architecture.
Stone screens (Jaalis) showcasing beautiful perforated designs or chinks are encased in metal frames with the provision of rolling back.
Interplay of light and shadow creates mesmerising patterns indoors, while ventilation and natural light are never in short supply – all facilitated by the beautiful jaalis!! It comes as no surprise that Raas has won many prestigious awards and nominations.
Enjoy sumptuous cuisine at Baradari, the open pavilion by the infinity pool. It offers culinary delight as well as a visual feast — set against the backdrop of the fort!! The hotel’s organic garden produces seasonal vegetables and herbs.
The spectacular sight of the Mehrangarh fort, all lit up and resplendent against the night sky entices guests to the Darikhana terrace.
The Heritage suite (1157 square feet) situated in the 18th century palace is large and boasts of a private terrace, a courtyard, landscaped gardens at the rear and of course the spectacular fort as the view.
Understated luxury permeates the large bedroom,
bathroom and living area of the three Heritage suites.
Raas is a fine example of how luxury, technology and modern interiors can integrate with a traditional structure. Heritage and vernacular architecture need not be at cross-purposes with contemporary definitions. Needless to say, an underlying principle of simplicity makes for the most effective conversation between two design styles.
The four duplex suites housed in the modern block also command spectacular views of the fort. Private gardens are beautiful additions to the four garden rooms and are intended to compensate the lack of a direct view of the fort.
Black terrazzo floors pair well with the rose-red sandstone as well as the pale walls. Elegant black and white décor sets the tone in the luxury rooms –twenty eight in all, enjoying jaw- dropping views of….yes, you guessed it right – the stunning fort again!