Samode Palace

Jaipur, India Book from IRs8900

Reviewed by Nadine Mellor
Majestic and rambling fairytale palace nestled into the Aravalli Hills, overlooking a traditional rural village
If you've ever wanted to play out childhood fantasties of living like a king or queen, Samode Palace is the place to do it. This 150-year-old Rajasthani abode stands in serene, sprawling splendour on a hilltop at the end of a dusty road, an hour's drive from Jaipur. A magnificent example of Rajput-Mughal architecture, it boasts some of the finest frescoes and mirror-work in Rajasthan. We came for rest and recuperation and found ourselves on our own Royal Progress through endless wings, terraces, courtyards and levels, marvelling at lavish creations like the extravagantly painted Durbar Hall and breathtaking Sheesh Mahal. Twisting staircases and painted corridors open up to spacious rooms and suites, whose plush furnishings had just been upgraded when we revisited in 2012.

After a day's sightseeing, you can explore the tranquil garden, unwind with an Ayurvedic massage in the spa, or sink a sundowner by one of the 2 pools. At dusk, the twinkling palace lights illuminate the darkness and inject plenty of romantic appeal to alfresco dinners in the flower-scented courtyards or feasts in the fine-dining restaurant.

Highs

  • The palace has been meticulously restored to accentuate the wonderful architecture and grand scale, with amazing mosaics and frescoes
  • Camel safaris in the bush at sunset are an unforgettable experience
  • This is an ideal place to rejuvenate and relax, with Ayurvedic treatments, Balinese massages, a sauna and a steam room
  • The wine list is superb, and the terrace by the rooftop infinity pool is a magical place to savour a drink
  • Honeymooners will adore the sumptuous Royal Suites, with their private balconies, Jacuzzis and opulent interiors

Lows

  • Visiting groups and gala dinners can make it feel impersonal at times, though non-guests can't use the rooftop pool or the fine-dining restaurant
  • It's remote, with little to do in the evening other than relax (though many would consider this an advantage)
  • Some of the Deluxe Rooms can be dark - opt for a suite
  • Some consider it to be more commercialised than other heritage hotels, and we've heard reports of staff encouraging guests to buy their families' wares

Best time to go

October to early April, when it's warm and dry, is the best time to visit. December, January and February can be cold in the mornings and evenings, though warm and sunny during the daytime. March and April are fairly hot. In May and June it gets humid and the heat can become intense and uncomfortable. The monsoon breaks in July and lasts until September.

Our top tips

From December to February bring some warm clothes for the mornings and evenings. Light clothing for covering up against mosquitoes in the summer months is advisable. Dress appropriately - skimpy outfits are out of place in Rajasthan. Many like to dress for dinner here to maximise the experience.

Great for...

Family
Foodie
Honeymoon
Spa
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Luxury Hotel
  • 43
  • Restaurants and bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
  • Bicycles Available
Room: Deluxe Room

Rooms

Live like royalty as you languidly lounge in the dreamy rooms. Scattered around the building, they vary in size, shape and design but all are colourful and unique, with intricate marble and woodwork. As befits a palace they are stunningly and tastefully decorated with some of Jaipur's finest block-printed fabrics covering carved or four-poster beds. The room we reigned in (a Royal Suite) had latticed windows and motifs painted on the walls and ceilings, with a spacious living area, a soft and comfortable mattress, and thick curtains. The ensuite bathrooms are a little dated in places, but they have powerful showers, fluffy towels and huge bathtubs.

Thoughtful touches include hot-water bottles for cold nights, and ceiling fans, air conditioning and mosquito coils for the warmer months. You'll also find DVD players and a wide library of films to choose from. Our room overlooked the walled garden and valley; others have balconies and views of the village, the mountains or Samode fort.

The Deluxe Rooms are the cheapest, with adequate space and charming décor, though some can be a bit too dark for our liking. Paying a bit more will get you one of the large Deluxe Suites, with a sitting area and possibly a balcony and dressing room. Really splashing out? Then opt for one of the spectacular Royal Suites on the top floor, which have private balconies, Jacuzzis, vast lounges and large TVs.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Minibar
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Wifi internet

Eating

The food at Samode Palace is a regal feast of Rajasthani and modern Indian dishes, as well as some European cuisine.

We breakfasted alfresco in the cool central courtyard, with its bubbling fountain and colourful flowers. You can have lunch and dinner here, too, or head to the colonnaded dining room or the Zanana Courtyard with its scented climbers. All 3 areas are beautifully decorated, and you can choose from buffet, table d'hôte and à la carte meals; you may even be entertained by a Rajasthani band as you dine. The Indian dishes are delicious, and everything we sampled, from sag aloo to gulab jamun, was excellent. The Western food (perhaps pasta, barbecued chicken or Greek salad) is less impressive, but still tasty enough if you fancy a change.

There's also a fine-dining restaurant, open to guests only, which we tried out during our last visit in 2012. The chefs here aim to stamp their own individuality on Indian cuisine by inventing new and unusual flavour combinations, and their delicate rose panna cotta is particularly divine. The wine list is extensive, the service smooth and professional.

Many of the items on the menus are available 24 hours a day, and can be served in your room or anywhere else around the hotel. We enjoyed a light lunch of salad and antipasti by the rooftop infinity pool, delivered promptly and with a friendly smile to our oversized daybed. There’s also a warm and atmospheric lounge bar - perfect for colder evenings.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Coffee tea making
  • Food and wine
  • Minibar
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity: Camel safari

Activities

  • Explore the palace rooms with their incredible frescoes, ornate ceilings and mirror-work - the exquisite Durbar Hall, the Diwan-i-Khas (halls of private audience) and the Sheesh Mahal (hall of mirrors) are not to be missed

  • Recline beside the tranquil marble and mosaic pool while sipping a cocktail, rejuvenate in the Jacuzzi, or watch the sun set from a daybed by the rooftop infinity pool

  • Soothe your mind and body with an Ayurvedic treatment or a Balinese aromatherapy massage

  • Wander around the cobbled lanes of Samode village (but watch out for touting locals)

  • Take a horse-riding expedition or camel safari in the surrounding countryside, or treat yourself to a hot-air balloon ride and get a bird's eye view of it all

  • Scramble up to the hilltop fort for breathtaking views across the valley and back towards the palace

  • Book a special dinner in the nearby sand dunes, and you'll be entertained by dancers as you dine

  • Spend the day at sister property Samode Bagh, with its fine Mughal-style gardens, grass tennis court and cool pool. Its restaurant is very good; in fact, we had our best Rajasthani curry here

  • Sightseeing excursions and onward travel can be arranged to the historic 'pink city' of Jaipur (with monuments and exceptional shopping opportunities), as well as Amber and Jaigarh Forts, Ramgarh Lake and Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Camel safaris
  • Food and wine
  • Historical sites
  • Hot air ballooning
  • Safaris
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Traditional cultures
  • Well being

Kids

The hotel welcomes children of all ages. Extra beds, cots and babysitting can be arranged for an extra charge, and there's a children's pool.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available

Babysitting:

Babysitting is available by arrangement.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots are available on request.

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kid Friendly: Rooftop infinity pool

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
8/
Food
8/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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