“Serene colonial-safari heaven of tented suites, an excellent spa and 6-star luxuries, an hour east of Jaisalmer”
The Serai has 14 Tented Suites, 6 Luxury Suites and 1 Royal Tented Suite - all are the same size. Each is pitched on a base of honey-coloured 'Jaisalmer' sandstone, with Victorian-safari-style furnishings worthy of a period film set. The tented and luxury suites run left and right, in two lines of 10, down to the walled-off Royal Suite at the bottom.
The cream canvas tents are filled with honeyed light and dressed with woven jute or tartan-weave mats, brass lanterns, leather bins, picnic hampers, decorative wooden bowls and little stone camels - all carefully selected and arranged by Anjali herself.
Superkingsize beds sit on stone platforms, with deliciously soft linen, tartan throws, plump pillows and sand-coloured cushions. Effective air-con is provided by tall, freestanding units and a screened-off sitting and writing area at the front opens onto your bolstered and mattressed veranda. Shower bathrooms are earthy ochre-stone with fluffy white towels, natural toiletries in antique bottles and clay pots for laundry. If we were being picky, our waffle-weave dressing gowns were over-starched and thus scratchy, though they're due to be replaced with softer ones
The Luxury Suites, where we stayed, have a walled courtyard with a blue-tiled plunge pool (heated by request and candlelit at night), so if you're on honeymoon or a special romantic break, we'd say it's well worth upgrading. The Royal Tented Suite has a small swimming pool, and private spa, dining and lounge tents, all enclosed in a sandy courtyard.
The indoor dining room shares the main pavilion tent with the entrance/reception, sitting room and bar. Light and roomy, its has chunky, honey-stone walls with inset candle alcoves for romantic lighting. Little teak tables sport graceful white crockery and tablecloths beside wicker-work chairs.
Food is beautifully presented and simply delicious. Breakfast can be a fresh, healthy continental, full English fry-up, traditional Indian which changes daily (I had the Masala omelette, an 'Indian omelette with tomato, chili, onion and coriander', which was lovely), or anything else you'd like.
Lunch is either traditional vegetarian thali (ours had pumpkin with tomatoes and caraway seeds, paneer butter masala, raita and lentils with garlic and tomato) or a light European selection of cold soups, homegrown Serai salads, pastas, filo tarts, exotic sandwiches and homemade sorbets and ice creams.
The dinner menu is not extensive but perfectly delightful: we dined on mango gazpacho, roast chicken with beetroot puree, then rum and raisin ice cream, and loved every mouthful. A comprehensive drinks menu offers all the cocktails, mixers and liqueurs, wines and champagne, and there are even custom blended tea and post-prandial Cuban cigars!
Alfresco dining is also available, on your own veranda or anywhere else on the estate, just ask. The main pavilion's open-air stone terrace is a big dinner favourite as you're bathed in lamplight under the stars and entertained nightly by the soulful playing of (world-renowned) local musicians. A campfire is lit nightly during the winter season, a bar can be set up under the stars.
Children are welcome but they must be well-behaved/not too noisy so as not to disturb the sacred peace of other guests. Extra beds for those between 8 and 12, and baby cots for infants and toddlers (other kids are expected to share their parents' bed or sleep in a separate tent) can be arranged. However, there are no facilities or activities which specifically cater to small people, though they're likely to enjoy the pool, wide open space and plentiful opportunities to watch desert wildlife. Children up to the age of 7 are free if sharing their parents' bed.
Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
Families may prefer to opt for a Luxury Tented Suite as this category has a private walled courtyard plus plunge pool.
Particular choices of dishes (if not found on the a la carte menu) and mealtimes can be catered for with advance notice.
As The Serai is in a wilderness area, parents are advised to be aware of the surroundings and to keep an eye on their children who should not wander around at dusk.