Lakshman Sagar

near Pali, Jodhpur, India Book from IRs13,950

Reviewed by Kate Darnton
Fanciful cottage suites perched around a small lake with killer views, in the rocky 'badlands' of central Rajasthan
Need a break from painted palaces? Had your fill of forts? At Lakshman Sagar there’s nary a block-print in sight. Just 12 spacious and gloriously private mud-and-stone cottages nestled amongst 32 acres of rocky hills, surrounding a lake. This is a quiet and intimate eco retreat, a place for travellers to unwind and recharge. Take a guided nature walk; go for a dip in the crater-like pool; watch the sun set from a terrace lounge or star-gaze by a bonfire on the dam. This place is all about R&R.

The hotel prides itself on its Marwar heritage but keeps a sense of humour about its history. Two 19th-century hunting lodges have been converted into airy dining and lounging spaces, decorated with whimsical touches: alcoves painted candy-floss pink; light fixtures made from milk cans and cooking pots. Your cavernous cottage is full of fun touches, too: our bright orange storage table was once a steel drum; the laundry basket formerly a baby’s hammock. Food, however, is serious business here - the cooks turn out consistently delicious dishes, all of them sophisticated interpretations of regional Rajasthani fare. You’ll return to the chaos of urban India with a full belly and a soothed soul.

Highs

  • A romantic, nature-lover's retreat: fresh air, starry skies, walking trails, migratory birds and a lake full of fish
  • Total privacy: your own stunning and spacious cottage with private plunge pool (all tucked away from each other)
  • An unusual glimpse into rural Rajasthan, it's worth staying 2-3 nights to fully appreciate the calming atmosphere
  • Great value - the price is all inclusive and covers several activities (nature walks, vegetable picking)
  • Delectable and innovative set-menu Rajasthani food

Lows

  • The location is remote - a 2.5-hour drive from Jodhpur Airport - and transfer costs are a little steep
  • This is a quiet, rural retreat so there are no restaurants or shops nearby, and there's little to do. But that's the point
  • With its rocky paths, steep steps and high drops, the property is neither wheelchair-accessible nor child-friendly
  • Lunch and dinner are pre-set, so you get what you're given (though they can cater for dietary requirements)
  • No WiFi, TVs or phones, and no twin beds

Best time to go

Like most places in Rajasthan, Lakshman Sagar is impossibly hot in the summer. The property is closed in May, June and July and the monsoon rains can last as late as September. Our favourite time is from November to February, when days are sunny and nights delightfully chilly.

Our top tips

Do a mini-tour of i-escape properties in the region; each one is strikingly different. We started off in Udaipur with the deluxe Devi Garh, then stopped in Deogarh’s rambling, 17th-century palace. From there, we drove across a hilly wildlife sanctuary to Lakshman Sagar for 2 nights in nature. Last stop: the stunning Raas, tucked in the shadow of Jodhpur’s magnificent Mehrangarh fort.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Eco
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Rural Hotel
  • 12
  • All meals included
  • 12+ year olds only
  • Closed: 12 Apr 2016 - 11 Aug 2016
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
  • Board games
Room:

Rooms

Your private cottage is made of mud and stone, with a wood-and-thatch roof. It is absurdly spacious: a high-ceilinged foyer; a large living room with cushioned sofa area, a bar (with fridge, Nespresso machine, local syrups and snacks) and a built-in fireplace; a sprawling bedroom and a stone bathroom with a rain-shower area. We loved our bathroom sink: a stone spigot that emptied into a rough-cut stone basin, itself perched upon a tree trunk base. How’s that for luxury camping?

The interiors are cheerful and bright, with colours borrowed from the saris of local village women. In keeping with the eco ethos, everyday products from the villages are repurposed: bedside lamps are made from metal spice scoops, petrol funnels serve as vases for peacock feathers. Fun little trinkets - Rajasthani puppets, embroidered juttis (leather shoes) and bangles - fill painted niches along one living room wall. It’s a cluttered look, but a fun one. We especially loved a collection of brass bells, copper pots, wooden spoons and pestles that dangled by thick ropes from the ceiling in the entryway. It was like a floating kitchen drawer.

And if the interior’s feeling too busy, you can always step outside for some fresh, desert air and a dip in your private plunge pool.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Board games
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Fan
  • Fireplace
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries

Eating

The food at Lakshman Sagar was a delightful surprise. But you better like northern Indian cuisine because that’s what you’re going to get - and lots of it! Meals are set, although dietary requirements can be catered for by the attentive staff.

Lunch was a tasty veg thali (dhal and a selection of cauliflower, potato and veg curries) with a fresh crunchy side salad and poppadums with tangy chutneys - we loved the pungent garlic paste. Dinner was even better: crisp and light pakora with spicy grilled chicken and green veg soup, followed by a thali of outstandingly rich mutton curry. Plus as much wine as we could knock back. Brilliant.

Breakfast was simple, but perfect: potato-stuffed paratha (flat bread) with homemade yogurt and spicy pickles; eggs cooked to order; fruit salad and fresh-pressed sweet lime juice.

Meals are served on the open-air Mardana terrace overlooking the lake, in the pretty little Zanana dining rooms, or privately if you prefer. When we stayed, a trio of musicians serenaded us under the stars.

Features include:

  • All meals included
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cooking classes
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Organic produce
  • Picnic hampers
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Go on a sunrise walk through henna fields, then enjoy a hearty Rajasthani 'field breakfast' at a local farmer’s hut. You can help churn the butter and watch bread being made over an earthen oven as you drink hot masala chai
  • Take a guided tour of the local villages, a horse-back trek to a nearby fort, or an afternoon wildlife safari to the Todgarh Sanctuary, home to leopards and sloth bears
  • Prefer to stay put? Cooking, pottery and turban-tying classes can be arranged, as well as vegetable picking in the surrounding fields (everything from dark green okra to rich purple brinjals and tangy green chillies). There's angling in the lake, too
  • Have a massage or do a yoga and meditation class in the open-air 'machan'
  • Lie out by your private plunge pool, the rock-carved main pool or the lake, where bird-watching is at its best - spot heron, myna, kingfishers and bee eaters
  • Taste local liqueurs on the terrace at sunset
  • At night, gaze up at the Milky Way - so rare a sight in India! - and watch shooting stars

    Activities on site or nearby include:

    • Birdwatching
    • Cooking classes
    • Fishing
    • Hiking
    • Historical sites
    • Horse-riding
    • Pottery classes
    • Private guided tours
    • Safaris
    • Star gazing
    • Traditional cultures
    • Vegetable picking
    • Well being
    • Wildlife
    • Wine tasting
    • Yoga

Kids

Lakshman Sagar is a quiet, nature-lover's retreat with uneven, rocky terrain and a high dam wall that drops directly into the lake below. As such, it is not suited for children. There are no extra beds nor twin rooms.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
10/
Food
9/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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