“A lavishly re-imagined design residence in historic Bikaner, with art deco rooms and refined service to match”
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 spa was still being built when we visited in mid 2018
- 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
- Restaurant & bar open daily
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Outdoor Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- 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.
- Air conditioning
- Coffee / tea making
- 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.
- Children's meals
- Coffee / tea making
- 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
- 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)
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Historical sites
- Museums / galleries
- Private guided tours
- Shopping / markets
- Traditional cultures
- Well being
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.
Baby cots, high chairs
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
Families Should Know:
The rooftop pool is unfenced
- Airport: 16.5km
- Pharmacy: 1km
- Hospital: 1km