Kaftan vibe with Nadima Saqib

I love traveling, well that’s quite obvious but what i love more is Traveling in style. In my recent travel to Ahmedabad, i stayed at a beautiful century old property where every corner had a story.

To much the vibe of the place i chose 5he beautiful Nadima Saqib ,cotton crush kaftan. The kaftan has intricate dori work details on neck and slightly puffed sleeves with mire dori work in slits.

Long and flowy, breathable in the humid Ahmedabad weather, i lounged around the property literally getting lost in a by gone era. A place where Mahatma Gandhi himself stayed.

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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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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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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.

 

 

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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

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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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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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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Ayana Fort Kochi

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Kerala has attracted travelers, explorers and traders from all over the world for centuries, drawn to this slice of tropical South India by spices, Fort Cochin (Kochi) is the one of the best place in Kerala for a rich multicultural experience.

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The fort Kochi area has its own quaint charm, It is buzzing with tourists, but each at their own pace – this part of the city has a ‘homestay’ in every corner! I chose to stay at  ‘Ayana Fort Kochi’ for a lot of reason the main being its prime location. One of the biggest delights of Fort Cochin is just wandering and exploring the atmospheric old streets, the mosque, the synagogue, temples and churches, the colourful houses and shops in Jew town and the picturesque Chinese fishing nets and soaking up Cochin’s colourful history.

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Boutique hotels are on rise in India, they are the perfect combination of creativity and luxury, without missing out on comfort, the rooms are spacious and inviting; it is affordable yet high class. ‘Ayana Fort Kochi’ is a luxury boutique hotel with  16-rooms that showcases an ideal marriage of history with modern luxurious comfort. ‘Ayana Fort Kochi’ is a 200-year old courthouse that has been meticulously restored and then renovated to its rightful glory. The hotel and its surroundings take you on a trip down memory to centuries old history. This element of old and new, existing side by side is evident in each area of the hotel.

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With large public spaces, the property lends itself well to showcase art and the Ayana team endeavors to make the hotel a platform to build awareness towards Indian contemporary artists. The hotel’s monochromatic black and white palate lends itself to the striking artwork showcased throughout the property.  Ayana’s commitment to promoting Indian artists is clearly visible as you walk through the hotel, currently they house paintings from established artists such as Amitabh Sengupta and Dhiraj Choudhary, as well as many budding artists, displayed all over the property.

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Luxury Suite: I wasn’t expecting a big room considering the fact that it was a boutique hotel, but to my delight i stepped into a spacious room which was a welcome surprise. The interiors of my room, just like the rest of the hotel was tastefully done and looked elegant and classy. The team has paid minute attention to each aspect of the interiors. Perfect blend of designs and striking colors define Ayana Fort Kochi rooms. The checkered floors have been created using traditional Indian cement tile and give a sense of colonial charm to the entire property.

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The room has a theme of black and white that created a soothing contrast and in addition to it was a splash of blue to add some color. It had a queen size bed with comfortable mattress and soft pillows, a sofa with round table and lounge chair facing television, just beside the huge glass doors that led to a cute and compact balcony that overlooked the street below and also gave a view of port with ships leaving and arriving.

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Food: Ayana places a high priority on food and offers fresh local produce and authentic flavors. One can feast their senses at a stunning restaurant, ‘The Old Court’, overlooking a private garden. It offers a sundry menu based on organic vegetables and only the freshest local catch. The rooftop café has been designed in an Art Deco style and is filled with the exotic fragrance of the Raat Ki Rani tree, growing wild across the area. It was too hot and Humid for me to have a meal here so i choose the old court for my meals or ordered in room. From south Indian to Italian there is nothing they miss out on, however i would suggest you to go local, enjoy the appam with stew, masala dosa, prawn curry, fish and eat your heart out, because once you are back home you will be craving every bit  of it.

Experiences &  Activities: The hotel is equipped with a roof top pool and a fitness suite –that offer mesmerizing views of the sun and sea.  From attending a rooftop yoga class to sculpting the body with strenuous work out at the gymnasium or just cooling off at the roof top pool, Ayana provides for all modern-day luxuries in a very historic setting. In keeping with the luxury component, Ayana is one of the few hotels in Fort Kochi offering a full-service gym.

The hotel also offers curated activities and guided tours for guests based on their preferences and choices. I enrolled myself for an evening of  Kathakali, Kalaripayattu a traditional dance performance and a Backwater tour which is a mandatory thing to do when in Kerala.  They also offer a spice tour and a fishing tour.

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Love Satpreet Kaur

 

Neemrana Fort – Palace

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Neemrana Fort Palace

The Neemrana Fort Palace in India is one of the first Palaces turned hotels in India, equidistant from both Delhi and Jaipur this should be on your list of travels in India. The fort dates back to 1464 and opened its doors to tourists in 1991 to soak in the charm of its rich heritage. A luxurious 55-bedroom hotel is an enchanting building, which is located on a hillside to afford the former king views over the nearby village, boasts palace wings covering six acres of land over 12 separate levels

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Royal Mornings at Neemrana Fort Palace

True to its nature all Mahal’s (rooms) have been named after the purpose they served in bygone era and promises to give you an intimate experience with history. Each room boasts of authentic decor, traditional Indian furniture and antiques.

I was staying in Surya Mahal, uniquely done up duplex suits on first level is a royal retreat, traditional in design, themed after its name, there are bits of yellows splashed everywhere. The splurge on the Surya Mahal will give you access to two storey independent villa, with two bedrooms in addition to a private terrace, separated by long passage and jharokas; while the ground floor has a lounging area, two washrooms, study area and a dining area as well. Spacious with facilities of mini bar, tea maker, landline and missing TV was just perfect for a holiday meant truly to unwind.

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Raj Kund, Pool at Neemrana Fort Palace

The terraces are the most enchanting spaces at Neemrana, from Shatranj Bagh, the terrace right above the fort’s main entrance and ramparts to Hawa Mahal where the complimentary evening tea, is laid out with cookies. Raj Kund the pool, surrounded by deckchairs to while away your stress. There’s a pleasant open-air amphitheater where concerts and plays are often held, you will be able to experience a traditional folk music — complete with dancers in sequinned costumes and fire-spitters.

Neemrana exudes an old-world charm; it is an exploration site in itself. The long passageways, jharokhas , maharaja portraits in the rooms, old wooden doors, latches, gigantic entrances, sneaky staircases, ruined walls, steep wells, gardens that are extravagant will make you taste the royal past in lap of modern luxury. Heritage drips from every bit and piece at this fort-palace

Food & Beverage: Normally your breakfast is included in your room tariff, but since its located in a remote area you don’t have an option to step out for food. So all our meals where at the in house restaurant including the evening tea session at Hawa Mahal, where all the in house guests enjoy a cup of their choice adoring the evening beauty around.  The Meals are all buffet and they also have special thali’s on weekend. They also have a bar, in the same chamber where maharja’s used to unwind in their days.

Oriental Spa: I had the most traditional Spa experiance at their in house spa, on suggestion i chose to go with their signature Rose Treatment. A luxurious romantic rose ritual that lasted for 90 minutes. It began with a fizzy rose foot soak as a welcome tradition after which my masseuse began with rose body scrub followed by aromatic rose massage, a holiday without spa is truly incomplete and i was in a true zen mode by the end of it. i was led to for a pine steam bath, and unlike modern spa this was a box in which i sat taking in the aroma and letting the oils do their magic (also imagining that, this is how maharanis rolled) winding up with Rose Tea from Anandini and some cookies to beat the hunger pangs on rise;  It was great to embark upon a journey of ultimate tranquility accompanied with exclusive pampering. Indeed making a memorable experience.

Actitivities

  • At Neemrana they offer you a chance to experience India’s first ever thrilling aerial zip-lining by Flying Fox.
  • An on request tour of the fort for the lovers of history and heritage.
  • Enjoy  Ayurvedic massages and rejuvenation programmes available at their in-house Spa.
  • Two swimming pools
  • Table tennis facility and indoor games for residents.
  • A 5 km Vintage car ride around the Neemrana village.
  • Multimedia Tour where you can now discover the history of Neemrana Fort-Palace. Explore its hidden nooks and see how it was as a ruin.
  • A Camel ride and Camel Cart Ride from the main gate to the step-well.

Recommended: Its quite a trek moving around the fort and navigation for restaurants, so make sure you carry your shoes, otherwise the staff is always around during the day to guide you. there are no exact sign boards to guide you, so try remembering the way, i certainly felt like i was at Hogwarts trying to find my way to the restaurant.

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