A weekend at Fairmont Jaipur during the pandemic

There are only so many things we can do at home. The pandemic has altered our lives in ways we couldn’t even imagine. Not commuting to an office and working from home; not eating out in restaurants and baking banana loaves of bread in the kitchen; not sinking into those recliners in movie theatres and couching up in the living room looking forward to the next OTT release but most importantly not travelling and gazing at old travel photos.

Our weekend getaway to Jodhpur in January 2020

A few months after flights opened up, Ajay and I began to crave for an outstation break. After a few days of mulling, we chose to take a short break in Jaipur. A trip to Jaipur was long overdue for us anyway. We were booked to travel to Jaipur in April over a long weekend before the virus marred our plans, and so we thought of picking up from where we left.

Jaipur has no shortage of hotels and resorts. However, keeping in mind the pandemic we wanted to pick a place that has clear guidelines on safety protocols during the times of COVID-19. We chose The Fairmont Jaipur for two reasons. First, Fairmont that comes under the Accor umbrella has introduced #ALLSAFE, an intensified health and safety measure to ensure guests and employee safety. The guidelines detail the safety, sanitisation and social distancing processes that the hotel has in place. On top of this, Accor has also put in place a 24-hour medical assistance facility for inhouse guests during their stay. This was reassuring for us to know, and we were confident that keeping up with the European standards, safety would be paramount at all of Accor hotels.

The second reason to pick the Fairmont was that two years ago, on a work trip to Jaipur, we had dined at their restaurant. Their Lal Maas is very famous. On that visit, I got a glimpse into the magnificent palace hotel structure, so when Ajay let me choose, I promptly decided that I wanted to be treated like a queen and stay in a palace in the Pink City.

At the time we stayed rooms at the hotel were priced as low as 75 US Dollar inclusive of a meal, which let me shout out loud is dirt cheap for a luxury hotel, and was a sweet deal for everything that was included. Not just that, there was free cancellation till the last minute.

If looking at this rate you are thinking about heading to the Fairmont Jaipur for a break, Accor is currently running a flat 50% discount across hotels in India for stays through the end of this year (Book till October 25, 2020).

This was my first flying experience after the lockdown ad I was quite anxious; however, my experience with flying IndiGo was relatively seamless.

Arriving & Check-in at Fairmont Jaipur

Once we arrived at Jaipur airport, we had a hotel car waiting for us. Fairmont is located in the Kukas area, and the drive from the airport to the hotel is about an hour-long, which means one hour less of a drive for those driving in from the NCR. As our car pulled in, security inspected and sanitised the car as we waited in front of a massive wooden door.

My first impressions were that Fairmont by no means is a hotel, it is a palace. As we drove towards the gravel laden front porch,  a gentleman played the Nagada to welcome us. Rose petals were showered from above. It was the Five Senses Welcome where the eyes are fascinated by the breathtaking fort and a palace structure. The ears could hear the Nagadas, the flower petals showered from up above not only had awakened the smell but also the touch felt special and lastly to enhance the taste we were served a sharbat once we arrived at the reception.

We walked in through a smaller door, and there was a courtyard garden with a water fountain in front of us. I later learnt that Charbagh, as it is called, gets its name from the olden palace gardens that also had a diwan-i-khaas on one end.

The entry to the reception lobby is through a beautiful Durbar hall where one can listen to folks songs being performed during the daytime. It gave the feeling of a rang mahal in the Mughal palaces which were primarily used to entertain guests.

The guest reception area had hues of gold and red. The walls had intricate frescos, and lavish chandeliers adorned the ceilings. One could spend over an hour easily in the reception lobby looking at all the Shekhawati vintage furniture, silver antiques and artefacts. We heard the owners curated these artefacts themselves, or at least most of them.

September is relatively warm in Jaipur; however, the lobby area was pleasant and cool. While admiring the paintings on the walls, I noticed the air-conditioning ducts that had been very smartly concealed. I suppose that’s the advantage of living in a hotel that is built like a palace; you can experience the royal charm and enjoy modern-day luxuries.

While we waited to complete our check-in formalities, the hotel staff approached us for a brief check-in ritual. She spelt out three vows about Fairmont’s philosophy and how everyone in the place vowed to make our stay memorable. This was a charming touch.

And right after the ritual, we made our first travel memory.

I also noticed that every staff address the hotel as a palace, which is quite apt for the Fairmont Jaipur. Like any other palace, the Fairmont Jaipur has its coat of arms. Not just that one can walk through a 400-year old doorway which we learnt was brought in all the way from an old fort in Jodhpur.

Still mesmerized with the grandeur of the reception area and the bar in the background, we completed check-in formalities, and our hostess walked us up to our room. While heading up the elevator on the fifth floor, I noticed that apart from social distancing signages and placing hand sanitizers in common areas, there was also signage in the lift screen which prompted guests to only use the lift with members of their travelling party.

I could spot a sanitizer stand every 200 metres in the public spaces. The shared washrooms apart from soap and moisturiser now had a new amenity.

Fairmont Jaipur Suite

Our room, 502 was at the end of the corridor and walking through the corridor felt like walking in the basement of a fort. The entrance to the room was through a wooden door with flames on either side. When we entered, we learnt that we had been upgraded to the Fairmont suite. The palace hotel has a total of 245 rooms which include 7 suites.

The Fairmont suite is a three-part suite with a living room, a bedroom and a bath area. The room architecture and interiors are Mughal inspired by arches. There was a whole load of Shekhawati woodwork and the tables, chairs, and work desk were all solid wood.

The furnishing and upholstery were opulent. The living room had a work desk in a corner where there was a welcome letter from the hotel and a welcome platter a whole load of sweet and savoury goodies.

In line with the current times and all the protocol applied in ALLSAFE, the room had masks, gloves and sanitiser provided. Masks and gloves were also provided across the premises, and disinfectant wipes were also available at all sanitation stations.

Keeping in line with the regal lobby feel the colour tone of the living room was rich turquoise blue and gold. The living room had Mughal style low seating, and the discreet arched windows overlooked the Aravalli ranges in the background.

Amenities included in-suite included a fully functional beverage counter. There was an array of tea bags fro TGL Co. specially packed for the Fairmont Jaipur along with enough coffee capsules to last us days.

The bedroom had a four-poster bed and an ottoman. The wall behind the headboard had delicate Mughal inspired inlay work. My only complaint was the lack of charging points in the bedroom. We had to put all our devices to charge in the living room. In hindsight, it was a good thing because we did spend a lot of lazy mornings chit-chatting in bed without worry who would make up the room.

The highlight of the suite was the bathroom. The bath and dressing area made up almost one-third of the suite: a walk-in closet, his and her wash area, a shower cubicle and an oversized stone bathtub.  I could happily spend the better part of my vacation, soaking myself in the tub.

In fact, guests living in any of the 245 rooms in the hotel can enjoy the bathtub. Owing to the Mughal aesthetic, the Parrot that is the mascot of the Fairmont also features in every room perched right next to the bed.

Fairmont Gold Room

Fairmont Standard room

Fairmont Jaipur Dining

Breakfast was served at the all-day dining restaurant. While many hotels have done away with a breakfast buffet in the current times, the hotel still lays out a lavish breakfast buffet spread. Several hot items were prepared by chefs in front of us. We stayed over the weekend when the hotel was fairly busy. To maintain social distancing norms breakfast was laid out in the grand ballroom with tables spread out.

One morning we chose to have breakfast in our room, and we could order in whatever we liked from the buffet spread. As a part of #ALLSAFE initiative, if guests felt uncomfortable eating at the restaurant, the kitchen was open to sending the food up to the room.

The morning we chose to have in-room breakfast, the hotel sent two of each portion. So while I wanted to eat idlis and dosa and Ajay wanted to have a western spread, we both landed up filling ourselves with Indian and western breakfast. Here is some of the spread, the rest was left on the hot trolley, and included bacon and other delicacies.

I usually stay away from calling in food inside the room; however, the in-room dining experience at the Fairmont was extremely pleasant. I was tired the day we arrived, and we decided to call for the Tiffin for dinner in the room. The meal came in a brass tiffin box, and I never thought I would say this but if you visit the hotel, make sure you eat the Butter Chicken. Ajay and I kicked back and watched Executive Decision on television, while we cleaned our plates, it was so delicious.

For lunch, we had the ala-carte as well as the buffet option. Over the next few days, we tried the Indian, Rajasthani (of course) and the Asian food in the hotel, and it was top notch. There was so much food variety at lunch that one could choose to eat a lite bite with salads and chaat or get their full fill. Even though one of the biggest challenges speciality restaurants face these days is the sourcing ingredients, the chef whipped up some delicious Asian dishes for lunch one afternoon.

Zoya, the all-day dining restaurant had a range of seating options available. We could choose to sit under indoors under a canopy style tent or on the tables in the main dining area. To minimise contact, the restaurants had no paper menus; instead, we needed to scan a QR code to access the full menu.

Other safety measures at the restaurants included sanitisation of the tables, wait staff wearing gloves and masks during service times and move to bottled water.

 

There was an outdoor seating overlooking the gardens and a lily pond which I imagine will be beautiful to sit and dine in the winter sun. I was initially lured into sitting outdoors, but the September sun is quite warm in that part of the country.

One evening we had the signature Rajasthani thali at Zarin, the restaurant that serves royal cuisines from across India. The red and gold inlay work in Zarin is stunning, and for most of my dinner, I was admiring the beautiful restaurant interiors.

And even though I don’t think anyone can finish the massive Rajasthani thali, it is a must-try. 14 authentic dishes served on a silver plate. I could only finish 40% of my food.

Fairmont as a hotel brand has a worldwide tradition of afternoon teas and bespoke cocktails in the evenings and the Fairmont Jaipur is no exception. Just beyond the reception lobby lies Anjum, which is an informal lounge that serves speciality teas and signature cocktails.

Throughout my stay, I never looked at the beverages menu. Instead, I would tell Twinkle, the bartender, what flavour notes I’d like to savour and each time she would whip up a drink that I loved better than the one before.

Aptly named Anjum which means Star, there is a constellation of lights in a massive iron chandelier right above the circular bar. Even the flooring is done in star shape pattern.

In many ways, I felt that Anjum is the epicentre of the hotel and a place that fits everyone’s needs. The lobby style seating was a great area to have some chai and chit-chat during the day.

The same place transformed in the evening into a lounge and we’d catch a place on the barstool and grab a cocktail before dinner. High tea for guests is also served at Anjum every evening along with puppetry and Rajasthani folk dance show. Anjum has something for everyone. For us, we also got our tea served in the room one evening.

One of the events we missed out on was the movie screenings that were held at the rooftop because it was opening night for the IPL, and Ajay wanted to catch the game on television.

Amenities

As per the state government guidelines, the fitness centre, spa and the pool were closed during our stay. To avoid crowds at breakfast, we would usually wake up early stroll around the palace property and then head to eat breakfast. My favourite place to watch dozens of pigeons every morning was poolside. The hotel pool has been constructed in the shape of a Chaupar board; an old game that the royals played with servants moving around the board for each move.

There was no place in that modern palace that for a minute, would let me forget the royalty that came along with the stay. Fairmont, as a global luxury brand, focuses on elevating guest experience by weaving in local art and architecture.  Even though the hotel was constructed just a decade ago, the hotel imbibes all the details of a palace. There is a palace emblem with a flag hoisted, over 300 stone pillars, a Durbar, hand-painted murals, thekri glasswork from the region.

Had I not known beforehand that the Fairmont was built to resemble a palace, I would have thought that this was another luxurious palace turned into a hotel like the Taj Falaknuma in Hyderabad and the Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur.

Fairmont Jaipur was operating only for the weekends through September 2020, however, has opened all seven days a week from October 1, 2020, onwards.

Overall, Fairmont Jaipur was a great change of pace from our usual city life indoors, and is perhaps a good choice for those from Delhi/NCR, as we saw the inhabitants from there in the hotel mostly. There are great options for meals and entertainment here, and most of the people coming in were in groups, deciding to catch up with their extended families in the safety of the hotel.

Have you been to Fairmont Jaipur? What has been your experience at this hotel?


Liked our articles and our efforts? Please pay an amount you are comfortable with; an amount you believe is the fair price for the content you have consumed. Please enter an amount in the box below and click on the button to pay; you can use Netbanking, Debit/Credit Cards, UPI, QR codes, or any Wallet to pay. Every contribution helps cover the cost of the content generated for your benefit.

(Important: to receive confirmation and details of your transaction, please enter a valid email address in the pop-up form that will appear after you click the ‘Pay Now’ button. For international transactions, use Paypal to process the transaction.)

We are not putting our articles behind any paywall where you are asked to pay before you read an article. We are asking you to pay after you have read the article if you are satisfied with the quality and our efforts.

Comments

  1. Wonderful and extensive article ! Thanks so much, Could you also tell about AccorPlus and how to get it in India. Any cc that gives the membership in India ?

  2. This was an extensive write up that hit all the points. Thank you, I like this type of content (with a regional focus) from LFAL.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.