Despite the grand exterior, the atmosphere is surprisingly homely, thanks in no small measure to your convivial host, Karan. 82 bedrooms embody the spirit of the erstwhile Maharaja – Rajput furnishings, terrazzo floors, luxe velvet armchairs – and are simultaneously opulent and comforting. Dining is an experience in itself, with elaborate Indian and Western dishes served at the hotel's restaurant Pearls & Chiffon (the sartorial choice of every Indian maharani). A short drive from town, the hotel organises expertly led tours of Bikaner's famed havelis (mansions), as well as private museum visits, camel or jeep safaris, and candlelit sundowner picnics by a lakeside oasis.
- Remarkable value for the opulent experience
- Packed to the rafters with objets d’art, it's reminiscent of an enormous antiques warehouse
- We loved the rooftop pool with its Portuguese tiles and shaded sun loungers
- Honesty bars, sweet bowls, and proper tea- and coffee-making facilities keep it homely; beds are phenomenally comfortable
- Bikaner, Rajasthan's 'Red City', is a less touristy alternative to Jaisalmer, but with the same desert outpost feel
- As with all luxury hotels, there's a hefty 28% tax - but it's still great value
- There's little to do around the hotel itself, but they will arrange a car for you at the drop of a hat
- The hotel is in a residential area and looks out over the town
- The hotel occasionally hosts weddings, which can be noisy affairs; ask when booking if they have any planned
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique hotel
- 82 rooms
- Restaurant & bar open daily
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Outdoor Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Beach Nearby
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Car not necessary
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Concierge Service
More intimate than its 82 rooms suggest, Narendra Bhawan is built to feel like a home. Each room is unique in its features and fittings, but all have thoughtful touches like Roberts radios (plus iPods with playlists), a small library of Penguin Classics, baskets filled with blankets and cut glass decanters filled with spirits.
The stately Prince Rooms are fit for royalty, with plush fabrics, a deep palette and English prints reflecting a leaning towards a Western lifestyle. Utterly striking are the Regimental Rooms, with military memorabilia and a tongue-in-cheek ceremonial feel. For the best in modern Indian design, the India Rooms, decorated in indigo and traditional-yet-contemporary textiles, are a homage to local arts and craftsmanship. Inspired by the movers and shakers that shaped the Republic of India, top-of-the-range Republic Suites are decidedly architectural, with lots of clean lines and steely greys. At the other end of the scale, Residence Rooms are where the Maharaja’s confidants would have stayed; functional and decorated in plush velvets, they’re small but perfectly formed.
Bathrooms are sleek with every last detail taken care of: beaded pearl covers decorate otherwise pedestrian loo rolls and kitsch Mysore sandalwood soaps add a touch of retro.
- Safe box
The hotel's restaurant, Pearls & Chiffon (or 'P&C' by day two), is a feast for the eyes and the stomach. Breakfasting surrounded by pastel blues and velvet pinks feels as though you are in the kitchen of a Stepford Wife. A tier of cupcakes and freshly baked pastries will be placed on your table whether you like it or not (you will!); there are eggs cooked any way, or Rajasthani dishes such as sabudana cheela (tapioca pancakes) with chaas (yoghurt drink) for the adventurous.
For dinner, we sampled the Bikaner thali: a delicious mélange of aloe vera curries and rotis made from local millet, laced with ghee from the Himalayas. If you fancy a change from curries, there might be pumpkin or cauliflower soups, grilled chicken salad with sundried tomatoes, or even pizzas.
The Literary Lunch is something to write home about: 7 courses of Epicurean epics including a glorious clam chowder with accompanying Parmesan sea biscuits (à la Moby Dick) and a white chocolate pudding with candied rose petals and lime jelly, inspired by James Joyce’s Ulysses. They also host a Blindfolded Dinner to titillate the senses.
- Dinner by arrangement
- Lunch by arrangement
- Room service
- Take a private tour of Bikaner’s old town on foot or by horse-drawn carriage: narrow lanes lined with ochre-red havelis (mansions) evoke its historic importance as a trade hub
- Don't miss stunning Junagarh Fort, with its decorative stately halls, carved jarokhas (balconies) and jali screens; and the lesser-known Bikaji ki Tekri or ‘poor king’s fort’ – all ending with lunch at a grand former merchant’s residence
- Enjoy a sumptuous sundowner and candlelit picnic at a lakeside oasis outside town, serenaded by flute music
- Relax in the Princess Room at Narendra Bhawan’s boudoir of a spa; they even do tea-tasting
- Explore the ramparts of Laxmi Niwas Palace on a private museum tour – and it wouldn’t be Narendra Bhawan if it weren’t followed by an elaborate lunch served on silver platters
- Book a camel or jeep safari into the desert, or to Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary (though don't expect more than fleeting sightings of blackbuck , gazelle, antelope and bird life)
Though children are welcome, Narendra Bhawan has a decidedly grown-up feel. Plus there’s not much in the way of entertainment for little ones.
Babies (0-1 years), Teens (over 12)
Family friendly accommodation:
There aren't any interconnecting rooms, but guests can request a room with a shared balcony. All rooms have space for travel cots and extra beds; Prince Rooms and Republic Rooms have spacious living areas.
Families Should Know:
The rooftop pool is unfenced
- Airport: 16.5km
- Pharmacy: 1km
- Hospital: 1km
Narendra Bhawan hotel is in a residential area of Bikaner, a city in the north Indian state of Rajasthan. There isn’t much within walking distance of the property itself. However, Bikaner's sights are just a short drive away and the hotel staff will be happy to arrange a car for you.
The nearest airport is Bikaner (16.5km), an easy 30-minute drive, which has connections to Jaipur and Delhi. The airports at Jodhpur (255km/5 hours) and Jaipur (348km/6 hours) are also an option. The hotel offers airport transfers.
There are regular trains run to Bikaner Junction (4.3km/15 minutes) from Delhi, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Allahabad and Calcutta.
Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.
- Bikaner (Nal) Airport 16.5 km BKB
- Jodhpur Airport 255.0 km JDH
- Beach 955.0 km
- Shops 1.0 km
- Restaurant 1.0 km