“Eco-chic cottages, tents and rooms in 20 wildlife-rich acres, all right beside Ranthambhore Park”
An admirable hotel in many respects, owners Goverdhan and Usha are pillars of the rural community. Their whole ethos is ethical sustainable tourism: food is vegetarian and the lodge’s 20 acres of grassland, lakes and forest were hand-planted years ago, cultivating a flourishing natural habitat for myriad wildlife – they even have resident crocodiles. People come here for the national park’s tigers, but with sightings never guaranteed, a place as special as this will ensure you don’t leave Ranthambhore disappointed.
- An ecological oasis teeming with bird and animal life - make time for a walk with the resident naturalist
- A warm welcome: big smiles, chilled face towels and sweet lime juice instantly revive you
- Gorgeous accommodation including chic thatched cottages and luxury tents, plus some cheaper rooms in the main building
- Little indulgences: a cooling plunge pool, a small spa offering relaxing massages and fun evening drinks around the campfire
- An ethical lodge: the owners have set up a local hospital and school, introduced animal husbandry and only employ local staff
- The food is good, but a little repetitive
- There's not a lot of light in the bedrooms at night and tents lack air-conditioning
- A bit off the beaten track - although you can arrive by train and get collected from the station, the journey is a bit stressful
- Tiger safaris need to be booked at least 6-8 weeks in advance
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Safari Lodge
- 22 rooms
- All meals included
- Not ideal for children
- Open all year
- Plunge Pool
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
All rooms are lovely, but the Luxury Cottages are knock-out. Staggered down a slope near the house, they face onto vistas of pampas grass and a small lake (complete with a resident crocodile!). Each has a private porch where you can watch birdlife by day and stargaze by night.
Inside, décor is simple but stylish: colourful block-printed bedspreads, white linen curtains, recycled paper bedside lamps, and waffle robes neatly folded into squares. There’s not a great deal of space, but everything is beautiful and the beds are very comfortable. Huge sandstone bathrooms have twin basins, walk-in drench showers and bespoke vetiver and sandalwood bio-organic toiletries. Better still, beyond the bathroom lies a totally private courtyard with twin loungers, a big stone tub and an overhead shower. A gorgeous place to read in the sun.
Perched on wooden platforms, the Luxury Tents are tucked in lush gardens or overlook open grassland. Less sumptuous than the cottages, they are nonetheless very attractive with white linen exteriors, comfortable double beds and quirky bamboo shower cubicles. Fans help to keep things cool, although we had to retreat to the plunge pool to escape the midday summer heat.
The Standard Rooms in the main building provide a cheaper - and less luxurious - option, although unlike the tents, they do have air-conditioning. Those on the upper floor have large cushioned bay windows for gazing out over the park.
- Central heating
- Cots Available
- Extra beds
- Internet access
- Plunge pool
In keeping with the lodge’s organic ethos, food is ultra-fresh, 100% vegetarian and, whenever possible, home-grown. There’s an enormous vegetable garden, and the surrounding wheat fields supply grain for the home-baked bread. Even the cows are fed organic to make their milk tasty!
Set-menu meals are served by friendly waiters in the airy dining room, a pristine white space with open arches peeking out to the gardens.
Our tasty international lunch began with an excellent chilled pumpkin soup and garlic bread. This was followed by pesto spaghetti, tomato and balsamic salad and a sweet potato Thai red curry with rice. Bursting at the seams, we managed a fresh fruit salad for dessert.
Evenings kick off with drinks around the campfire - a lovely opportunity to meet fellow guests. There’s the usual range of beers, spirits and soft drinks (wine is only available by the bottle, but staff can chill leftovers for the following evening). Guests then wander into the dining room and help themselves to a Thali buffet. We had paneer with tomatoes, potato with cumin and coriander, pomegranate raita, and a lentil daal. Fresh naan breads and chapatis were baked in an outdoor tandoor oven - both very good - and dessert was rice pudding. Private tables can also be set up by the lake.
Breakfast was also good - a buffet of cereals, sliced pomegranate and fresh breads, along with some hot options. We enjoyed masala and cheese omelettes, as well as perfectly poached eggs and yummy pancakes.
- All meals included
- Organic produce
- Vegetarian menu
- Most come here to see Ranthambhore Park’s wild tigers (sadly not guaranteed although, promisingly, the population has doubled in recent years). Daily morning and evening safaris can be arranged - we'd recommend booking at least 2 well in advance. Choose between a 6-seater Gypsy or 20-seater Canter vehicle. Neither is better, sightings are just down to luck
- Even if you don’t see tigers, you’re pack your binoculars for fabulous wildlife. We came across heaps of deer, peacocks, snakes, crocodiles, eagles, owls and monkeys
- Built in 900AD by the Rajput rulers, hilltop Ranthambhore Fort was later invaded by Akbar's army and today offers wonderful views from its ramparts - reception can organise visits
- Camel rides to nearby villages and trips to see black buck in the desert can also be arranged
- Fantastic on-site birdwatching - a telescope and night-vision monocular can be provided, as well as naturalists to guide you - and expeditions can be arranged to view the waders, ducks and migratory species of Soorwal Lake and the Chambal river
- Back at the lodge, take a walk of the grounds with knowledgeable resident naturalist, Mittal. She has an extraordinary ability to spot critters you would have otherwise walked straight past
- Cool off in the plunge pool, or treat yourself to an Ayurvedic a massage in the spa
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Camel rides
- Historical sites
- Plantlife / flora
- Private guided tours
- Shopping / markets
- Traditional cultures
- Well being
Although children are allowed, they cannot be left unattended (especially after dark) due to the wildlife in and around the camp. Extra beds and baby cots are available.
Family friendly accommodation:
Cots Available, Extra Beds Available
Khem Villas is set on the outskirts of Ranthambhore National Park, 13km from Sawai Madhopur. It's 200km (4 hours by car) from Jaipur and 300km (6 hours by car) from Agra.
Jaipur (200km away) is the nearest airport. It has internal flights from most Indian airports, including Delhi and Mumbai (Bombay). There's also a private airstrip and helipad at Sawai Madhopur; Khem Villas can advise on plane or helicopter charters.
It's a 4-hour drive from Jaipur airport to Ranthambhore. Our Tailormade Tour Operator can arrange a driver for the single journey or as part of a longer bespoke tour of Rajasthan.
There are daily trains from Jaipur to Sawai Madhopur (2-hour journey), Delhi (4 hours) and Bharatpur (2.5 hours). The hotel offers a free pick-up service from the station.
Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.com.
More on getting to Rajasthan and getting around
- Jaipur 200.0 km JAI
- Beach 900.0 km
- Shops 13.0 km
- Restaurant 13.0 km