Le Dupleix , Pondicherry

Situated in the heart of old French Quarter of Pondicherry,  Le Dupleix was built in the 18th century as the residence of the Mayor of Pondicherry, and stands on one of the most important corners of the French town. The beautiful experience begins right at gate that is topped with perfectly manicured vine leaves. The massive wooden door entrance lead you to heart of the restored building – the courtyard that is surrounded by modern hotel with deep French roots.

Rooms
Every room in this hotel is different! Every detail in each room has been specially thought out and chosen for that room alone, with the end result being a hotel with delightful surprises around every corner. The mix of the modern and the traditional gives much warmth, but at the same time ensures that the hotel is exceedingly comfortable.  It’s no wonder that the Conde Nast Traveller Readers’ Travel Awards listed Le Dupleix as among the three best boutique hotels in India. While the rooms are extraordinary i loved the courtyard the most, giving me a full view of the property, a place where i did a lot of reading in company of 200 (plus) year old mango tree, had all my meals and some great evenings catching up with friends over finest of wine and food.

Food

Le Dupleix and Pondicherry have a very complex, diverse and cosmopolitan culture and they bring it all together, in the menu at Le Dupleix. One of the main things I have noticed over my repetitive visits is that they keep upgrading their menu and are far from boring or old fashioned; so heritage and tradition of Pondicherry is modernized and becomes part of their culture that’s moving forward. Influence of Creole is clearly visible in Le Dupleix’s menu through recipes from New Orleans (which created some of the most exciting Creole dishes) like Gumbo soup and Creole Shrimps & Crab cake. The menu celebrates Japanese cuisine with Miso Glazed Fish & Soba Noodle soup, Classic French dishes like Confit de Poulet & Crêpe Suzette, and presents dishes that stand out like Wild Game Quails & Soft Shell Crabs. 

The strongest influence on modern Pondicherry cuisine has been the emphasis on being natural, organic and healthy. At Le Dupleix they are going organic all the way; their rice, wheat, dals, spices and oils are all organic. Fish is fresh from sea, caught by local fishermen and chicken is free range & organic. Also all soups, salads, appetizers and main course dishes have been presented with suggested pairings of International and Indian wines that helped me experience beyond what i knew and enjoyed it thoroughly.

I know as a matter of fact that whenever i return to Pondicherry, i will revisit the property for its lobster night or their in-house Vanilla Ice cream, which by the way is the best vanilla ice cream i have had in my life.

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Love Satpreet Kaur

Ramada by Wyndham, Jaipur

I have been visiting Jaipur as a tradition every year now, for Jaipur Literature Festival, this year however the exciting festival was held digitally but that didn’t stop me from visiting my favorite city.

I was glad I had covered most of the touristy places and so this time I wanted to just enjoy the best of winter weather, food, and luxury of some time for myself.

My stay at Ramada by Wyndham Jaipur- Jaisinghpura was an absolute treat. 16 kilometres from Jaipur International Airport (JAI) in peaceful Jaisinghpura, the hotel is a short drive from the Amber Fort & Palace, City Palace, Hawa Mahal, and Jantar Mantar. The hotel is a destination in itself, with great food, spacious rooms, and all modern amenities at a dial. The hotel is a perfect example of heritage meets modernity, the beautiful arched pathways stole my heart right on arrival. The presidential suite I stayed in was every bit of luxury, so much that I didn’t step out of the hotel even once throughout my stay.


The gold and maroon color scheme of the room added a royal touch to the very well done room with long windows draped with curtains. The highlight however was my massively spacious private terrace where I spent most of my time. I was so glad I was traveling with my best friend and we made a great stay out of it watching movies, having tea over sunsets, dining under the stars with some exceptionally well-prepared food.

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Rosé Amer, Jaipur

Jaipur has never been short of experience, even when I feel I have seen most of it in this beautiful Pink city, there is something that always blows my mind. My experience at Rose Amer was exactly that. Tucked right in the center of the city, the exterior of the place keeps the mystery of what’s inside perfectly enveloped. It is only when you enter the lobby you see the little details that add up to the big reveal (well at least for me, it was)

After a brief introduction of the place and a welcome drink ‘Anesthesia’ i was escorted to a beautiful private and outdoor cabana setup, where the pink and white theme was quite evident. My lunch experience (which can be booked on prior reservations only) came with a private server, an array of wine selections, and lunch that included dishes like – Parmesan cup with hokaya salad, Beer butterfish Orly, soya chap in khad style, Cucumber, and mint soup, Beetroot cream cheese nuts salad (my absolute favorite) followed by Herb-crusted chicken drumstick and Mooli ka halwa for dessert that blew my mind (that by the way was so well made, I could hardly taste the mooli bit, which I must say I hate). 

The well-trained staff made sure I had an amazing experience with their warm hospitality, timing the courses just right and though I couldn’t see the sunset, my late lunch extended through it and it ended with peacocks singing in the background. The meal overall was the best of local and continental food, a menu inspired by a book printed by the family of owners, years back called “Dadi Ki Rasoi” 

Can’t wait to return to this beautiful place, fit for modern-day royalty and experience a stay. I hear their rooms are a gem in terms of minimalistic decor and beautiful detailing. If you do happen to visit before me do share your experience with me on Instagram.

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Hyatt Regency Dharamshala Resort 

Aerial view of the beautiful Hyatt Regency Dharamshala Resort 
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Hello from the Shanti Villa, Hyatt Regency Dharamshala Resort 

The pretty town in Dharamshala, covered with cedar trees and surrounded by Dhauladhar range was my last escape before pandemic hit us. The amazing new property was a refreshing getaway and now that i look back i am so grateful i did, and an experience i hold on to as we are all quarantined in our safe spaces.

I fell in love with Mcleodgunj when i took a solo trip there. this was my 4th visit to the town and there is something about the air, the sunsets, the monks and monasteries, the beautiful cafes and familiar uphill roads that feels  now home. Dharamshala overall is a great place for leisure and adventure travelers and has a lot of options of beautiful cafes, luxury stay and treks that will leave you breathless, with the view of course. This time i was staying with new luxury property – Hyatt Regency Dharamshala Resort that opened in Dharmkot, which is located at slightly higher altitude that McLeodgunj.

The outdoor of Hyatt Regency Dharamshala Resort 
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The backyard forest at Hyatt Regency Dharamshala Resort 

The world of Hyatt extends its hospitality with a refreshing new property spread across 6.5 acres, situated in the profound depths of the Dhauladhar mountain range of the outer Himalayas. The property is picturesquely ideal for family, solo, and romantic getaways and offers experiences that will give you a true break from hustle bustle of city life.

Room  of Villa Shanti, Hyatt Regency Dharamshala Resort 
Living area with a view at Hyatt Regency Dharamshala Resort 

Rooms- Hyatt Regency Dharamshala is located near the residence of H.H. Dalai Lama, also known as Tsuglagkhang Temple. It features 80 well-appointed accommodations, including 4 private villas, 3 suites, 17 Club rooms, 15 rooms with balconies, and 41 Hyatt king and twin-bed rooms offering fresh Himalayan air through large openable windows. The resort also features 21 interconnecting room sets, ideal for travelling families. All the rooms have a view, either through their windows, balconies, private garden or just a n open lawn. It is incredible how centrally heated the hotel is, and with warm hospitality of the staff the experience we had was sure a memorable one.

The villa is well equipped with rooms, private verandah, dining space, kitchen area and a cosy staff room
The private lawn area, Hyatt Regency Dharamshala Resort 

Food – Hyatt Regency Dharamshala Resort offers a variety of locally inspired cuisines which provides authentic Himachali experience as well as the comforting delight of Global cuisine. Whether you are searching for local or international cuisine, you are sure to be satisfied with the choices that are to be found in the iconic area surrounded by the stunning architecture and culture within the heart of Dharamshala. The resort offers three outlets, Thym is an all-day dining restaurant offering both indoor and outdoor seating, is an ideal setting for family dining through a combination of interactive breakfast buffets and thoughtfully curated à la carte menus for lunch and dinner. Featuring the herb garden, the restaurant specialises in locally sourced farm-fresh food that celebrates the bounty of organic Himalayan farming, serving Indian and global cuisines.

Traditional food, Hyatt Regency Dharamshala Resort 

2082, the bar is one of the best in Dharamshala, an ideal place for an aperitif or after-dinner drink. Centrally located at the lobby level of the resort, 2082 overlooks the landscaped garden and the snow-capped Dhauladhar mountain range. The central island bar is the focus of the area, with both indoor and outdoor seating options. With an adjacent fireplace, 2082 is a comfortable venue offering a wide selection of premium alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, light munches and an afternoon tea selection. What one must try are the locally infused drinks, that were refreshingly new for our taste buds and a live music performance with live counters only made our experience here one of the best during our stay.

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Infused drinks, Local singers and live food coutnters, evenings at 2082 are just magical, Hyatt Regency Dharamshala Resort 

McLeod & Co. bakery and shop is the signature bakery, offering sweet delights inspired by the English-style nomenclature. The bakery is fun, fluid and blends tastefully with the lobby. It also serves as your general store within the resort with selected retail goods and souvenirs from across the region, and essential everyday items in case you have forgotten to pack them.

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High Tea at the McLeod & Co. Bakery and Shop, in hotel lobby.

Shanti Spa: The resort features three single and one couple spa therapy rooms and a wide range of relaxation therapies, from traditional, International, and other renowned contemporary massage therapies. But we recommend is the Tibetan massage that is influenced by local techniques and the use of oil that is made with the best or aromatic and essential oils.

Pool at Hyatt Regency Dharamshala Resort 
An evening of relaxed spa, Hyatt Regency Dharamshala Resort 

Library & Fireplace: One of our favorite spots in the property is the beautifully done indoor fireplace at the lounge area that keeps you warm while you enjoy a read at the library which offers an intriguing selection of literature on various historical and cultural areas of interest. Read or just enjoy a cup of hot Kangra tea while you adore the beautiful Thangka painting, it is a cozy spot for anyone who wants to unwind indoors.

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Hot cuppa tea, good read in centrally heated study area! most relaxed evening of the holiday (after spa of course)
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Fireplace and lounge area, Hyatt Regency Dharamshala Resort 

Fun & Entertainment The resort features a ‘Home Cinema’ that can accommodate up to 15 persons at one go, delivering an intimate audio-visual experience. Camp Hyatt – Kids Zone is a designated area for children where they can enjoy games and fun activities along with special buffet meals. This will allow some free time for parents who are traveling with their kids.

Morning Trek with Hyatt Regency Dharamshala Resort 

Must Experience: Bhagsu, Nature Walk, Offering an unparalleled landscape, the Bhagsunag area is a …. oGo along as they take you on a journey through sylvan surroundings where you will get acquainted with the local flora & fauna against the backdrop of a breathtaking waterfall. The resort offers this complimentary activity every day, that ends with a light and healthy breakfast, one you should not miss.

Tibetan Arts and Crafts Tour: To honor the heritage of authentic Tibetan arts and crafts, this guided tour to Norbulingka Institute allows guests to see and experience local crafts firsthand. The tour is an additional paid experience, you can include it in your itinerary while you are staying at the resort.

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Love Satpreet Kaur

 

Svatma – Luxury Resort, Thanjavur

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Svatma – Luxury Resort, Thanjavur

I love travelling, what i love even more is when the journey or destination brings an exciting story or an experience. When i chose my destination this time, i knew i would be taking home a lot of interesting memories. I picked Thanjavur, also known as Tanjore when i was in Pondicherry and it was just a 4 hour drive. We had a very amusing start, our driver was a Rajnikant fan and he entertained us through out the way, while i enjoyed the blabbering my friend found him overwhelming as she just wanted to doze off. The landscape on our way was full of palm trees and paddy fields, i din’t snooze even for a bit, i never can, in flights, in cars, i love watching the landscapes change.

Maratha history, Tamil food, Indian Art and Architecture – Thanjavur is an exquisite southern city formerly known as Tanjore. It is world famous for hand crafted brass idols and Tanjore style of painting, a traditional style that is characterized by the use of gold foil and religious imagery. It’s best known today for being home to the great living Chola temples, a UNESCO world heritage. I was invited to experience the hospitality of Svatma Luxury Resort Hotel, a restored family mansion, that gave me an experience of a magical journey that included the luxury of leisure while dabbling with arts in a traditional home environment.

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Living area, for guests to read, chill and enjoy over arts or games at Svatma, Thanjavur

Visit to local palace with at Svatma, Thanjavur

Much like Thanjavur’s temple architecture, which blends styles from multiple eras, the seven-room heritage wing at Svatma is over 100 years old and the erstwhile family home of the Carnatic musician Rama Kausalya, melds seamlessly into the new building built around it. Across the property, murals of dancers, architectural drawings of Chola-era structures, religious verses and black-and-white photographs adorn the walls.

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The restaurant that leads to patio and further to pool and other restaurant, at Svatma, Thanjavur

Beautiful mornings in this traditional Swappanam Suite at Svatma, Thanjavur

Room: Svatma, recreates the ambiance of a classic Tamil residence in a century-old home flanked by old trees. Keeping you company is period furniture, local art and craft and traditional board games like pallankuzhi. I was staying at the ‘Swappanam Suite’ the best in property with unique design and abundance of intricately carved wooden furniture and pretty balcony. it has a living area, airy bedroom and washroom with closets.

Lounge area in Swappanam Suite, at Svatma, Thanjavur

Catching up on some reading in the private veranda of the Swappanam Suite, at Svatma, Thanjavur

Traditional Thali at Svatma, Thanjavur

Food – The hotel has three restaurants serving south Indian and continental vegetarian food. Aaharam, the indoor restaurant – meaning food or nutrition in Tamil, overlooks the pool, and the outdoor restaurant Amar Chitra Katha-themed Palaharam -meaning snacks offers an excellent local and European vegetarian fare. There’s a set menu for the day, but you can expect dishes such as fried banana flower cutlets, ammani kozhakattai (spiced rice flour balls), puliyotharai (tamarind rice), a variety of rasams, and desserts such as feni (crispy vermicelli) with almond milk and boondi. The terrace bar, Nila, is great for drinks under the stars.

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Pool at Svatma, Thanjavur

Relaxed afternoon with some old old comics by the pool at Svatma, Thanjavur

Experience- Svatma offer a fully equipped gym, spa and pool that looks like a temple tank and you can spend your day around it. Apart from leisure and doing all things touristy planned by Svatma for us, the experience i will cherish forever was the live Veena performance, it was the very first time i experienced it and it blew my mind, i din’t move an inch throughout the performance by the three incredible artist in front of me, it was an experience that i will cherish forever.

Another incredible and yet another first was the sound therapy. I loved every bit of it, a unique sound therapy that was like nothing i have ever experienced, it was calming, and rush of something so new and so amazing left me in a state of zen for hours. Post spa i spent my time by the pool reading one full comic, another first (yes, i never read a comic before)

Spa at Svatma, Thanjavur

Brass Idol Making Experience with Svatma, Thanjavur

Another experience we took was of Bronze Sculpting, Thanjavur is the cradle of this ancient art form and the skill has simply transcended generations of sculptors. We watched cire purdue (was casting) live in action from casting to the sculpture taking its final form and it was just brilliant. Watching things being made from the scratch, especially when its handcrafted, makes you value the artisans and the products a lot more (well at least to me).

Check it out- Tanjore is most famous for its UNESCO-listed Brihadeeswarar Temple, an 11th century Shiva temple built in tawny granite. The edifice was built by King Rajaraja I to celebrate a military victory. Any way you look, it’s a lesson in architectural excellence: from the musical pillars, Chola-style murals and lime plaster frescoes to stucco sculptures of Lord Shiva’s various incarnations and ancient Tamil inscriptions. The central tower has 16 tiers rising to a height of 216 ft, making it one of the tallest of its kind in the world. Several shrines dot the sprawling lawns of the complex, including one of India’s largest statues of Nandi (Shiva’s sacred bull) carved out of a single rock.

Try – Tamil-Maratha fusion cuisine, Thanjavur is synonymous for the famous pulisadam (tamarind paste mixed with rice) and other types of dry rice mixes like ellu sadam, sambar sadam and thengai sadam, all of which are also served at temples as prasadams. Some locals claim that the south Indian sambar was first cooked in the Maratha royal kitchens of Thanjavur. When Sambhaji, the Marathi king and son of Shivaji, wanted something tangy for dinner, the ingenious cook substituted the tarty kokum with tamarind in a dal, threw in some sautéed veggies and the sambar was born! The Maratha influence on the region’s cuisine can be seen in dishes such as shakar biranji—sweetened pulao with almonds and coconut to ambat bhendya—okra tossed with Indian spices.

This blog is so informative, yet i feel there could have been so much more written, but i guess some things are left for experiences. I hope we get through these covid times soon and when we do, we will all travel safe, travel local and see experience the incredible India.

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Love Satpreet Kaur

Garli- An offbeat getaway

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Chateau Garli, Kangra – a cattle shed  that was transformed into a heritage property

Garli is a place where you can experience a beautiful embrace of history and heritage at one place. With travel becoming more personal, this is a perfect getaway for any unconventional traveler who likes to explore offbeat places, learn more about deep Indian roots and a slice of architecture.

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Village of Garli hold many stories of bygone era

Heritage Village Garli is marvel in every sense. There is hardly any other Indian suburb with such stunningly diverse styles of architecture on display among the mansions, temples and sarais, all of which stand testimony to the majestic existence Garli that once had. Garli is a classic example of collaborative town planning, vision & foresight of its founders. Established over a 100 years ago, many facets of a mini township were built in, ranging from education, health, to sanitation, commerce etc. examples of all these are still available to see. Today, an abandoned village, Garli is said to have been established in the seventeenth century by the Sud community of the region. Traditionally, the treasure keepers of Kangra’s ruling house.

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My beautiful corner in the room, with tinted color glass at The Chateau Garli

Where to stay: ‘The Chateau Garli’ is a heritage property, built in 1921 that has been restored to its age-old glory by carefully recreating the colonial, Portuguese, Mughal, Rajasthani and Kangri architectural influences that surround the Garli & Pragpur Village. The Chateau Garli offers a home away from home experience with additional comforts to pamper you. It is located on the foothills of Dhauladhar mountain range of the Himalayas, in the heritage village of Garli built in 1921 by Sud family who have now restored it to heritage property. The place boasts of impeccable details, from old gramophone, wooden radio, colonial furniture, crystal chandeliers, contrasting coloured windowpanes, and antique door handles.

Rooms keeping up with the theme have wooden furniture, the paintings a lot of which depict family trees and goddess, colorful embroidered bedspreads and the vibrant windowpanes. Everything at this boutique property transports you another era, also giving you all the urban amenities.  Each of the 19 rooms in the mansion was unique and distinctive.

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Pool Side restaurant at The Chateau Garli

Food: You can indulge in some local delicacies like Himachali Dhaam and fresh trout, preferably requested a day early. From their regular menu too food isn’t short of anything but a great meal. Must try dishes are the Pahari Mutton, Mandra, Maa ki dal, Laal Maas and Kanghri Dham all served at their poolside restaurant or comfort of your room.

The town reflects the progressive planning, that includes water and drainage system incorporated nearly a century ago. The Suds established a boys’ school in 1918, a special women’s hospital in 1921, and a girl’s school by 1955. These, along with Garli Water Works, which used imported copper pipes from London, inaugurated in 1928, are still operational. At a time when the rest of India was largely underdeveloped, the infrastructure of this tiny outpost was leagues ahead of its time.

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Spa at The Chateau Garli that has rural touch

Experiences
Sunset at Beas River -Even if you can view the sunset from the hotels in Kangra but this river bed in Garli offers the best sunset view in the whole village. Dipping your feet in the Beas river bed and encountering the sun set is a must do in Garli.

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Beas River

Night Safari in the Local Forest Reserve – This is for all the wildlife enthusiasts. Taking a jeep around 9 or 10 pm and driving through the local forest reserve would be a surprising adventure as you might spot a leopard, wild boar, wild rabbits or sambar.

 

 

Masroor rock temple
Masroor Temple

A Religious Tour – There are a vast number of temples in Garli as the city situated in the ‘Land of the Gods’- Himachal. Some of the famous temples in Garli are Jwalamukhi Temple, Maha Kaleshwar Temple, Baba Balaknath Temple, Kangra Devi Temple, Baglamukhi Temple and Chintpurni Temple.

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Must try- Kulfi, there is this man who sits under a tree and famous for his frozen kulfi, it tastes real good but what is fascinating is that i have been told, he doesn’t use ice. Leaves you wondering.

How to reach: By Air : Chandigarh (180 km) approx 4 Hrs, Gaggal (62 km) approx 1.5 Hrs
For more info and bookings – The Chateau Garli

Don’t forget to check out the blog on its sister property  – The Chalets Naldhera  a beautiful stay in Shimla. Subscribe to my blog so you get all updates right in your mailbox. Also follow me on Instagram @ssatpreetkaur,  for more instant updates on all things fun, food, fashion and travel.

Love Satpreet Kaur

Norwood Green Resort, Palampur

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View from the villa at Norwood Green Resort, Palampur

Palampur  has been known as ‘The Tea Capital of North India’. A small city 3600 ft above sea level is a popular hill station of India, rich in historic temples, forts and  its spectacular Himalayan views. Palampur is a plantation getaway situated in the Kangra valley overlooking Dhauladhar mountain Ranges. the town is less explored and least commercialized and that’s exactly what beautifies it.

I was staying at the Norwood Green by Lamrin resort, a place where you could enjoy both- the view of  tea garden when you lower your sight and Dhauladhar range when you see up from the backyard of your private villa. The experience of spending leisure time amidst beautiful Palampur Valley of Himachal Pradesh that is yet unexplored by most tourists, waking up and spending your days so close to nature was a heart warming experience. I was here with my family and we din’t feel a need to utilize the available tv, or play any games. we spoke, went for walks, fed the pet who wondered in our backyard and revisited old memories. I think it was in the air and vibe that all we wanted to do was just hold back and breathe, an experience we haven’t had in a really long time.

Norwood Green provides you an exquisite resort that has a experience similar of a luxurious home stay, amidst the serenity of the Himalayan ranges and sprawling tea gardens. Its charming aristocratic architecture will transport you to a different era, while providing you with every modern amenity you need and your own butler, who bring everything to you on call.

There is a dedicated team at Norwood Green will take care of you from arrival to departure, your food to laundry and also help you plan any activities and walk if you wish to indulge.  Their concept is simple, they offer guests a home away from home, a place to switch off and unwind, to re-connect with each other and with nature. For all the time we were there, we all had one common thought, if ever owned a home in hills, it would exactly be like this.

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The beautiful living room at Norwood Green Resort, Palampur

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The other side of living room that extends to dining area and opens up to the backyard at Norwood Green Resort, Palampur

Rooms– If you are a group of four or six or more, you can have an entire villa to yourself, we were four and since the other room wasn’t booked, we had the villa all to ourselves. Each of their exquisite villas has four rooms, all of which have flat screen TV, four well equipped bathrooms, private dining area, private kitchen and living area. Apart from this one of the room comes with a spacious balcony, the others have view of the tea gardens or mountains and the whole cottage at Norwood Green has access to rear garden at back overlooking tea gardens along with mighty snow covered Dhauladhar mountain ranges.  Our evenings included sipping hot ginger lemon tea or have aloo parathas, play music and make the most out of the little moments.

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Room with a view at Norwood Green Resort, Palampur

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The spacious balcony outside my room at Norwood gGeen Resort, Palampur

Charming and spacious interiors, to beautiful panoramic views of the mountainside, every moment at the Norwood Green, Palampur is peacefully delightful. While you feast on authentic, local Himachali dishes, the warm hospitality of the staff will help you retire after a fruitful day.

Activities in Palampur At Palampur you will find yourself surrounded by lush greenery and abundant rivers and streams, and a very pleasant climate that will draw you in, and make you never want to leave. And when it comes to tourist attractions, Palampur has more than enough to offer. Just a walk around Palampur will let you enjoy its beautiful colonial architecture. The tea factory, St John’s Church, Bundla waterfall, Neogal Park are interesting places to visit. The village of Andretta, 13 km from Palampur is known for its pottery. The town of Baijnath, 16 km away is famous for its Shiva temple, and the Tibetan monastery at Tashijong, is 12 km away. Adventure seekers will find trek routes leading out of Palampur and into the Dhauladhar mountains. The towns of Bir and Billing have gained international reputation as paragliding sites. Dharamshala and Mc Leod Ganj are also popular tourist places near Palampur.

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Love Satpreet Kaur

Devi Bhavan, Jodhpur 

Devi Bhavan, Jodhpur

After a good few days in Udaipur I headed to Jodhpur – The sun city of India. My love for Rajasthan only increases with what I see. They told me monsoon is not the season to visit Rajasthan, but I feel every place has a unique experience in each weather (well of course, peak summers don’t count in Rajasthan) I leisurely spent my days in Jodhpur, so I din’t really miss anything despite rain, but loved every bit of monsoon.

corridor and open space outside room at Devi Bhavan, Jodhpur

The city of Jodhpur boasts of heritage hotels that reflect the spectacular royal status that this place once had. I was staying at Devi Bhawan a boutique property that only after, I stepped out of the reception, saw for what it is. a little tropical paradise in the heart of the city. In between its dense green cover were little blips of building spread across the area, which you won’t spot until you are in front of it. There were two little water gardens of which one was full of lotus and had a swing at the end of it, where I spent a lot of time every day of my stay just swinging and breathing  all of it.

Breakfast with a view at Devi Bhavan, Jodhpur

Over breakfast at Devi Bhavan, I had a quick conversation with elegant Rambha Singh, who with her family owns and manages Devi Bhavan and stays in the other end of the property and is a warm host who is available for any queries in case guests need. She indulged me in details of how this property came to what it is today – Interestingly she mentioned Devi Bhavan is an eighty-year-old residence of Thakur Ratan Singh and his family.

My beautiful room at Devi Bhavan, Jodhpur

colours that spark joy at Devi Bhavan, Jodhpur

Rooms: There are 20 rooms at Devi Bhawan, housed within five, two-storey buildings spread among green lawns with neem trees, flowering plants and fountains. I stayed in a deluxe room that had view of both garden and the pool, the rooms at Devi Bhavan are simply furnished, my room had a four-poster wooden bed, sofa and wardrobes. The bedspread, cushions and sofa cover all matched in colorful prints, that perked up the room. While most rooms have a private sit-out mine was on top floor and had a huge veranda with lounge on daybeds and rattan chairs. I spent most of my time out in the beautiful and spacious verandah, listening to chirping birds, sipping tea while overlooking the lush space and the pool on other side.

Pool at Devi Bhavan, Jodhpur

Well one thing I couldn’t do was get into the pool and swim in crystal clear water. It is located at one end of the property and is great to soak in the sun on the deck chairs the pool a touristy day.

Breakfast at Devi Bhavan, Jodhpur

Food: They have an in-house restaurant that serves all meals, or you can choose to order in room dining and enjoy your meal leisurely like me. All meals are served in the dining room at the center of the property you can also enjoy your meal outdoors where tables are decorated with vibrant sunny cloths, wrought iron chairs dotted around the garden. I only had breakfast during my stay and tried a thali for dinner. The service was tad bit slow; menu is limited but food was decent.

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Thali for dinner at Devi Bhavan, Jodhpur

When to go: The best time to visit Jodhpur is between October and March when the maximum temperature is around 27C and the minimum around 15C.

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Center Point, Nagpur

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I was visiting Nagpur for work and even though it was for just two days I was looking forward to get a taste of the city that is famous for its food. After asking some friends and family I choose to stay at highly recommended – Hotel Centre Point, located in the heart of ‘Orange City’.

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The hotel gives you easy access and is centrally located, be it business or pleasure. With 135 rooms & Suites, 3 Restaurants and 15 banquets, Center point Nagpur is great choice for weddings or big conferences.

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The experience at the property was exceptional in terms of food and hospitality, each member of the staff is extremely warm and makes sure your stay is comfortable and you are pampered with the best. I stayed in a Deluxe Suite that has an exclusive dining area, sofa seating in the living area, 2 washrooms and a separate bedroom and a powder room. Luxurious and spacious rooms that made every bit of my stay a relaxed one.

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Bougainvillea – Just as the ‘Bougainvillea’ flower is a favorite to many who fall in love with its cheery appearance and brightly colored petals, the atrium style restaurant offers buffet for breakfast and dinner. A weekend brunch is a lavish affair but so is their breakfast spread that includes everything from Indian to continental, juices to coffee, yogurts to cheese, I went for the local delicacies like tarri poha which is a must try when in Nagpur.

Meeting Point– The all-day dining at Center Point Nagpur offers an array of cuisines that thoughtfully prepared. This iconic restaurant, with its wide range of dishes offered in their À la carte menu and chef puts his finest of skills to suit taste of every guest. Paired with mouth-watering food they also offer a range of beverages and follow it with our sought after desserts for a wholesome experience.

With little time on hand, i couldn’t explore and have a taste of local cuisine. When i shared the same with chef and his team, they arranged a lavish gastronomy for me, in my room. Every meal at Center Point, Nagpur was a delicious one but this stole my heart. I got a taste of ‘Kacha vangyache bharit’ ‘Besan cha Jhunka’ ‘Aloo vangyachi bhaji’ ‘Saoji chicken’ with Jowari ki bhakar and two types of thecha (lal ans hirvya) i was so happy i got to taste all of it and it indeed made my visit to Nagpur a successful fun.

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Freakk – An all-day Bistro offers a contemporary feel and natural light, setting up a cozy, comfortable mood, they offer coffee deserts, savories and combos but what I tried was the blue tea, I love the fact that throughout the property they use jaggery powder instead of sugar.

Banquets – A banquet to hold a high-level social event such as a conference or wedding with utmost comfort; Hotel Centre Point offers you the perfect choices. With event planners, the very best in audiovisual equipment and catering service, these spaces can hold up to 2000 guests comfortable

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Calcutta Bungalow

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Kolkata, the first capital of British India is a place where you can still breathe the bygone era vividly. The architecture, people, street food and cabins (now known as cafes), museums and Bazaars clearly show how you can find beauty even amidst chaos

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Calcutta Bungalow, a 90-year-old Majumdar bari (townhouse) restored and tucked in a quiet neighborhood. It is a heritage bed & breakfast with six rooms. Every corner of this three storied building boasts a mix of colonial and local architecture.  Away from the maddening chaos of the city, this is a perfect place to stay, that offers an old-world charm along with urban amenities to make your stay a comfortable one.

The intimate property has a small open courtyard and rooms that are named after old neighborhoods like Sahibpara, Darzipara, Mochipara, Potuapara (artists’ colony), Boipara (about books and publishing), Dorjipara (tailors’ hub), Jatrapara (famous for traditional theatre). The rooms dedicate a tale about the places they are named after.  Just like the rest of the bungalow the rooms too are a perfect amalgamation of vintage and modern and equipped with modern day luxuries like air conditioning, television with Netflix, WiFi an attached bathroom and comfortable bed. The place also boasts a reception, recreation room, terrace and a dining hall.

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The dining room, called Notunbazar (named after new market), a common meal space for guests has loudspeakers as ceiling lamps and books that any intellect would like to borrow. While the breakfast is included in the stay, you will have to inform them in advance for dinner or order in, the staff is warm and helpful and lay down your meal for you if you wish to have it in common room, instead of your room.

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Maison Perumal , Pondicherry

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Maison Perumal is a 130-year-old family mansion dating back to French colonial times in Pondicherry. The heritage property is immensely influenced by the local culture and details of it can be seen in its design aesthetic to a great extent. It took them over a year to restore the building and refurbish it with a studied attention to detail that its former owners would have been proud of.

Inviting courtyard

At Maison Perumal they believe in ‘less-is-more’ philosophy, that is reflected its minimalistic interiors that are adorned with a spare style, yet pay much attention to detail. Stained glass offsets the familiar local white plaster in a telling example of creating a distinct identity. It is how Maison Perumal celebrates its special heritage. 

On arrival the lungi clad men welcome us with a jasmine garland and escorted us to informal reception area, where we checked in and enjoyed our welcome drink (lime and ginger drink) while soaking in the beauty of the cosy courtyard that was filled with a subtle aroma (i assumed it was lemongrass)

Tamilian hospitality and French architecture

 It’s in the details that the property steals your heart, though minimalistic in décor the details get your attention like no other. The stained-glass balconies at the hotel offset the familiar white plaster of local houses to create a distinct identity while the period furniture at Maison Perumal symbolizes a simplicity and elegance that was characteristic of prosperous Tamil households of yore. Again, in deference to tradition and their own obsession for the novel, the rooms at Maison Perumal are fitted with the famous ‘Dindigul‘ locks & keys, reputed for their antique and intricate designs.

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Rooms: The property has 10 rooms and has a very intimate vibe that helps them serve their guests in the best way possible. All the members of the staff are warm and well aware to guide you, be it about the food or local recommendations. The architectural character is deeply rooted in Tamil culture, with a whiff of French colonial influences. To be a guest in a gracious Tamil home was once an honoring experience of a very high kind. In those traditional times, a guest was perceived as a member of the household and treated indulgently. It is this special experience that CGH has successfully recreated at Maison Perumal.  Staying here you can experience a simple and relaxed way of life that echoes the elegant guest traditions of Tamil Nadu with a gentle French accent, which together make for a truly ennobling experience. 

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Food: At Maison Perumal, you can encounter a true local food experience, be curries with best of south Indian spices, or best of local sea food, as in all CGH Earth properties, locally grown produce – from yams to okra and drumsticks – is given pride of place on their tables. Even a plate of exotic pasta gets a carefully crafted local makeover with tiny prawns, fish, chilies, garlic and chef’s unique mix of local spices. We would definitely recommend you to try their Vazhopoo Vadai which is a banana flower pattie, Era Podi Thooval that is tossed in Lentil Prawn that is full of flavors and in chicken try their Kozhi Idicha Masala which is cooked in crushed spices and masala, and in dessert go traditional with their wonderful Payasam 

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Curated experiences– CGH properties are all about experiential stays, they make your visit worth your effort not only by hosting at their mesmerizing properties but also by organizing experiences that gives you a peak into the city and its culture in most personal way possible. They offer options like heritage walks, cooking with chef, a tour to AurovilleKolma Art and our favorite – Pedal through time, a rickshaw ride through the by-lanes of the historic town. This again can be organized by the hotel on request, and we recommend you do it on your first day, the whole tour will take minimum one hour, the rest depends on who long you end up taking pictures at each place. This way you will have ample of time to explore more on rest of the days and pick favorites if you want to revisit a place leisurely later. 

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Palais de Mahe, Pondicherry

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If you ever visit Pondicherry, i promise, voluntarily or involuntarily you will find yourself in front of Palis de Mahe. The hotel is one of the hot spots for tourist to click pictures. Well i will know because the one year i spent in Pondicherry, i stayed right next to it (oh i was damn lucky) tourists would flock in front of the building right form morning 6 till sunset, apart from that there were movie shoots, pre-wedding shoots and what not.

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Palais De Mahe is situated at the intersection of two beckoning worlds. One gently murmurs the spirit of Colonial France with its clean streets, neatly plastered bungalows and flower-decked balconies while the other envelops you in its salt and spice-laden air coming off the Coromandel coast of India in great animating gusts.

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Colonial To The Core, The hotel and the rooms have plenty of distinctive French elements that will catch your eye at Palais de Mahe, in particular, its classical period style furniture. We believe that if Monsieur Dupleix were to visit us he would feel quite at home at Palais de Mahe. There can be no better endorsement for all our painstaking efforts to go French.


It stand out with its yellow and white walls and is one luxurious option to stay when in Pondicherry. However, if you don’t stay here don’t miss an opportunity to have a meal at their fine dine restaurant – Les Alizes. They are known to serve some of the best seafood in town, keeping it fresh and appetizing. Overlooking the pool, the place also serves some interesting cocktails. You should try their Mushroom and Spinach crepe, served with chickpea salad, Prawn curry and Spicy Orange – Grilled Calamari.

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Les Alizes, rooftop restaurant at Palais de Mahe, Pondicherry

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Ayurvedic Spa, No travel is ever complete without a relaxing spa therapy. The Ayurveda center at Palais de Mahe offers a range of herbal massages and therapies to help you get rid of accumulated stress and shape up a bit while you are with us. My masseuse was the sweetest and gave me a lot of tips to keep my skin and hair healthy with simple home remedies and absolutely loved how warm she was.

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Must try a cup of freshly brewed coffee and baked croissant at Earth cafe by the pool at Palais de Mahe, Pondicherry

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An indulging evening at Hyatt Regency, Amritsar

Being in golden city of Amritsar is always bliss. As a routine i come back here every year and right amidst the pleasant weather when, winters is just calming down leaving behind days that are pleasant and nights more chilly. I can’t even count the times i have been here yet i find something new to do and indulge in every time. This time i was welcomed by the team of Hyatt Regency, Amritsar, who hosted me for a lovely day.

While i waited at their all day cafe ‘Tarteria’ a Patisserie that promotes the notion of tarts to the taste of locals and travellers alike. What i really liked about the place is its soul- Chef Shiv who holds the reigns in kitchen and makes sure everything they offer is homemade, only natural colors are used and dishes that will impress your taste buds as well as your soul, after all you are in land of Amritsar. I tried an array of fresh tarts and sipped some coffee, a relief from the windy afternoon outdoors. He promised me an authentic local meal for lunch, I had no qualms about it and parted ways while I checked out the property and went for a spa session that was preplanned for me.

I then stepped into ‘Shanti Spa’ a spacious space that has an inviting ambiance. From the moment you walk in, you feel a sense of luxury and relaxation, leaving the outside world behind. The scents that fill the spa are calming and the spa is every bit stunning as the property itself. I love to leave all the pampering sessions to the last day of my vacation, so I can have a rejuvenating experience before my trip came to an end. The well-lit spa was spacious with masseuse who attended me began with a ritualistic feet wash, and treated me with an hour of soothing body massage. The massage began with kneading and long strokes, the pressure on each trigger point was so fabulous, I let go my senses in no time. You know you are in hands of well-trained masseuse when you immediately slip in Zen mode and next 60 minutes were pure bliss.

Pro Tip- while most of the spa’s make you fill forms and know your requirements. Make sure you let them know about your concerned areas and don’t ever feel conscious to tel them if the pressure is too much.

Punjab Province – Post spa i made my way to the in-house restaurant where Chef Shiv prepared a scrumptious North Indian meal for me. Tempting scents of food and an air of extravagance calls you out in this airy restaurant, I stepped out and took a sit in their alfresco seating, appreciating the slight winter chill.

We started off with a platter of appetizers that had tandoored ‘Chicken Tikka’ ‘Lamb Chapli with Anda’ ‘Fish Amritsari’ and ‘Kala kukkad’ the robust flavours made me realize how no part of India can beat the flavours of Punjab, maybe i was being biased but the food was just a gastronomical treat. My favourite and highly recommended dish is Kala Kukkad, with subtle yet lip-smacking flavours.

For main course chef presented yet another platter in an intricate ceramic plate, with a leaf that had several dishes like ‘Butter Chicken’ i mean you can’t leave Punjab without this. I was so glad it was still end of winters so i got to taste seasonal specialty like ‘Sarso Ka Saag’ paired with ‘Makke Ki Roti’ and side of gud (jaggery) and makkhan (butter) ‘Matka Gosh’  with tender mutton cooked really fine, i am not a big fan of chole so skipped that. The accompaniments like ‘Masala chaach’ ‘Kuchumber Salad’ made the meal elaborate and authentic. For desserts chef had a sweet gesture and presented me with a dessert that was full of different desserts. I mean literally desserts in dessert, it had kulfi faluda, ice cream with unique flavours like pan, gulkand etc all served in a glass. Well i can say it was not just food and presentation but the also the hospitality that made my visit a memorable one.

On my tour to property I noticed a vibrant section dedicated to kids, they had staff dedicated to look after kids while you enjoy a spa session of a leisure drink at the bar. They have 2 rooms divided for different age groups and open throughout the day. Form soft toys to video games, board games to movies; they were all stacked dup so your kids can easily spend a few hours without getting bored. I felt it was a wonderful thought and more and more hotels should do this as it gives the parents a much desired break and make the most of their vacation.

For more check out – Hyatt RegencyAmritsar

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Villa Shanti, Pondicherry

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Entrance of  Villa Shanti, Pondicherry

2018 has been a really special year so far, and most important part of it was me braving up to take my first solo trip ever. Being born and raised in south, I wanted to pick a place in south (i think its more of a mental satisfaction for me) and a place that had a lot to do, gave me an opportunity to interact with some interesting people and also enjoy a bit of solace; and so i ended up in Pondicherry (which by the way has a direct flight from Hyderabad)

Corridor that leads to room and courtyard at Villa Shanti

I stayed at the French quarters where bougainvillea adore the walls, streets are filled with colored buildings and excited tourists. Right amidst all this beauty stands a beautiful boutique property ‘Villa Shanti’. A wooden door that is hard to miss leads you into this 100-year-old property turned into a boutique hotel with new additions to its architecture, tastefully done. Right from the entrance of sturdy wooden doors, that will want any passerby intrigued to step inside; the property is a beautiful amalgamation of urban luxuries and heritage influence.

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The property is minimalist, yet rich in details. From door knobs to tile work, murals to crockery that intricately blend in and make  Villa Shanti unique. Apart from being a welcoming spot for tourists, the place also promotes local artisans and try sourcing most of the products locally. Staying or not, there restaurant always has a waiting that pretty much speaks about the food and service.

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The four poster bed in my room at Villa Shanti

My room at Villa Shanti

Rooms: Villa Shanti has 15 aesthetically designed rooms that are built around the inner courtyard. I stayed in one of their ‘Junior Suits’ that is generously sized and comes with a four-poster king-size bed. The room also has an extended and spacious wash and change area that include his and hers sinks, shower area and toilet. The room in addition has a study table, cupboard to store your essentials and windows that lead ample of sunlight and some that open up into a balcony. The furniture is all made of locally sourced wood, antique door handles, handmade amenities from Auroville and structural lamps added up as magnificent details, one can’t fail but adore.

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Working on a holiday never felt better

The indoor and outdoor living spaces harmoniously balance comfort and simplicity, a broad veranda runs alongside the bedroom around the verandah below, providing ample space for outdoor lounging, I however loved spending time here working, having my evening tea and overlooking all the buzz taking place in the courtyard, which helped with fact that even though I was working, the vibe was of a vacation.

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For breakfast the spread includes freshly baked breads and croissants, fresh juice, eggs of your choice and fruits of the season.

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My first attempt at the Betel leaf salad, and totally loved it

Villa Shanti serves up some amazing meals, with a selection of sea food, continental bakes, grills and a choice of regional and Indian dishes. Breakfasts to Dinner everything is served out in the courtyard, yet ambiance during the day is completely different than what it is at night. While during the day it has more tropical vibe, at night its lively, candle lit and romantic making it perfect place to dine, be it with family or friends.

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Cafe Bar at Villa Shanti

The Café bar- It is my favorite place to chill adjoining the courtyard offers some amazing alcoholic concoctions you would love to sip on, even if you are sitting by yourself in the softly lit courtyard. Located opposite to the patio and the vertical garden, it offers snacks inspired by Indian street food, as well as various sandwiches and salads. Here you can also choose to enjoy a meal, sip a cocktail made from fresh juices, listen to music, or just relax and read one of the books from their library.

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Courtyard lit up for dinner at Villa Shanti

The Restaurant: Staying or not the resto is highly recommended to anyone visiting Pondicherry. Weekday or weekend you are bound to see the restaurant full house most of the times. The restaurant is divided into two distinct spaces; one opens onto the patio and the vertical garden; the other is air-conditioned and located in the older part of the building. All the dishes focus on quality, freshness and seasonal ingredients, which they source from the local suppliers.

Vacation isn’t ever complete without a spa for me, it’s like a ritual. So, when they told me I could have mine in the room, I just took up the opportunity and got myself a well-deserved massage, that it felt so good after a long day at Auroville. Also move on to my next blog to read all about ‘La Villa’ the sister property of Villa Shanti where i stayed for next two days in Pondicherry. 

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Clarks Amer, Jaipur

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Jaipur is one of my favorite cities in India, it is a perfect mix of heritage, modern royalty and some of the best hotels. I can keep coming back to city and still have so much to look forward for. This time my stay was extended by ‘The Clarks Amer’ that represents exactly the same. The grandeur perfectly in sync with contemporary architecture, hosting leisure travelers and business delegates alike.

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Room with a view at Clarks Amer, Jaipur

I experienced the warmth of their hospitality right when I reached Jaipur. Chauffeur along with a hotel staff member came to pick me up, as I reached way early in the morning, they pleasantly stopped for a quick cup of tea at Tapri on request, and i finally felt i was in Jaipur.

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Scrumptious breakfast in room at Clarks Amer, Jaipur

On welcome I was swiftly checked in to my suite, very tastefully-furnished and spacious with a living area, dining table that can easily accommodate 4 to 5 people and a separate area leading to washroom and bedroom that has glass a window giving a slight peek of Hawa mahal amidst trees and also overlooking pool, with all necessary amenities of a star hotel. While I dozed off catching up on my sleep from all the hectic travel, the chef was kind enough to send in a late breakfast right to my room and I was so delighted to see hot kachoris, kadi and jalebi. I savored every bit of it, and this is exactly what a first breakfast in Jaipur should be like.

Clark Amer is equipped with some of the finest restaurant in town, staying or not, these are must visit when in Jaipur. Each is special in its own way and I was glad I was staying here for three days, and got ample of time do devour at each restaurant and also explore the city.

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Rajasthani Thali at Durbar, Clarks Amer, Jaipur

Durbar- The all day dining restaurant serving North Indian and Continental cuisines, i had my very first meal here and it was an elaborate Rajasthani thali, it included laal maans, dal baati and even ker sangri among other dishes. The venue is designed for enjoying a delicious feast with friends and family.

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Some Asian food at taBLU, Clarks Amer, Jaipur

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Coffee Martini, at rooftop taBLU, Clarks Amer, Jaipur

taBLU- The most happening place in Clarks Amer (apart from Lobby during the day, which is always buzzing with exited guests), is a rooftop restaurant that offers breathtaking views accompanied with great drinks and good music. Their LIT is something I would definitely recommend apart from the coffee martins. The place often sees live performance and keep hosting famous bands. It is a perfect place to visit for drinks and if you are staying inhouse, then there is nothing better than this, post a long touristy day, the mere fact that your room is right below is relaxing.

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Mughlai Thali with a view at Dhola Maru, Clarks Amer, Jaipur

Dhola Maru- Is the specialty restaurant that serves Mughlai, Rajasthani and North Indian located on top floor this restaurant too has perks of twinkling city lights, a view that adds to the royal and romantic ambiance. The hospitality throughout my stay has been incredibly warm, but it was this place that brought out the best of it. They have some of the most experienced, humblest and welcoming staff. The thali I had was a gastronomical treat, it included Nihari Gosht, Nargisi Kofta, Paneer Makhni, Tava Veg Lazeez, Lassuni Dal, Kache Gosht ki Biryani, Purani Raita an Malpua for dessert.

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Half n Half Pizza at Zolocrust, Clarks Amer, Jaipur

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Pasta with home grown veggies at Zolocrust, Clarks Amer, Jaipur

Zolocrust – Probably the first restaurant you will spot when you enter the hotel, the place is filled with light aromas of coffee and freshly baked breads during the day. It is a 24×7 live bakery and pizzeria, but what makes it special is that every service here, even beyond cooking is all take care by the chefs themselves. From serving to clearing tables, not using plastic to offering vegan options, the place definitely has set its standard very high. They offer some really good desserts, apart from pizzas, pasta and shakes that I highly recommended.

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Post spa lounging at Clarks Amer, Jaipur

‘Clarks Amer’ happens to the first 5-star hotel in Jaipur in the state of Rajasthan, and while you may be busy exploring heritage outside, they also happen to have the oldest working lift in the city. They have a beautiful pool, take a dip or just lounge around, or even better take a spa treatment just like I did. While I had a lot to explore, I went for a quick foot massage but they do offer full body massages, because what’s a holiday without a quick spa treatment.

Located on the prestigious JLN Marg, Clarks Amer is just a 5-minute drive from the Jaipur International Airport and a 15-minute drive from major city attractions such as City Palace, Birla Mandir, Jantar Mantar and Hawa Mahal. They are perfectly equipped for large events, conferences and weddings, but with my experience I will suggest you to make your booking way in advance, so it’s not sold out, which it tends to most of the times.

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