Family Hotel Review: Shahar Palace, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India
Owned by the extremely affable Colonel and wife Nalini is this simple yet charming family-friendly guesthouse that offers excellent budget accommodation in a quiet neighbourhood.
Best For: Bargain hunters; kids of all ages.
Reviewed by: Katja Gaskell
Why You’ll Love It
Owned by the extremely affable Colonel and wife Nalini is this charming family-friendly guesthouse that offers excellent budget accommodation. Twelve simple rooms are set over three floors of an 80-year-old former home with breezy verandas and sit-outs overlooking the pretty shady garden.
It’s the setting that really sells Shahar Palace. Set back from the road in the upmarket neighbourhood of Civil Lines, the hotel is a genuine retreat from the cacophony outside the gates. With mature trees and plants, and seemingly no neighbours, the setting is so peaceful that you almost forget that you’re in the city.
It’s a popular spot that boasts an eclectic roster of guests. From the Polish Ambassador who was the first to sign the guestbook in 1995 to backpackers and musicians, families, air stewardesses and even travel authors – this is where Fiona Caufield based herself while researching her guidebook Love Jaipur.
Why The Kids Will Love It
Staying at Shahar Palace feels more like staying with family friends than it does a hotel. It’s the kind of place where you can run riot (and there’s plenty of space to do so) and the Colonel will simply laugh and encourage you to enjoy yourself.
Little kids will enjoy the generous garden; playing hide and seek in the bushes, chasing the resident peacocks and chickens, and searching for the two old tortoises that lie camouflaged in the undergrowth.
Big kids will love having the run of the place and the guesthouse’s convivial nature means that there is always an interesting collection of people staying, including other families. Teens might find the pace of life a little slow but the proximity to town means that there’s plenty to do nearby. The Colonel can help arrange trustworthy taxi and auto rickshaw drivers for exploring as well as organise horse safaris and trips to watch elephant polo.
The twelve rooms are spread over two floors of an 80-year-old former home and open onto wide verandas overlooking the garden. There are three categories of room, Standard, Deluxe and Super Deluxe.
The standard rooms are the most basic, do not have a TV and have an air cooler (functional but noisy) rather than air-conditioning. The deluxe and super deluxe rooms both have TV and AC. The super deluxe are on the ground floor and open directly onto the garden.
The rooms are simple, compact, comfortable and clean. Rooms are furnished with a double bed, wooden dresser or wardrobe and they all have ensuite bathrooms (showers only, no baths). It’s worth noting that some of the beds are on the short side – if you’re tall ask for a bedroom on the second floor where most come without bed ends. Also, this being a budget hotel the mattresses are not 5 Star quality and the towels are a little threadbare.
A two-bedroom apartment with living room and kitchen is available for long-stay residents only (minimum six months).
Best Rooms for Families: The rooms are all the same size and can fit one extra bed and a baby cot. There are no interconnecting rooms; families travelling with big kids and teens can request adjoining rooms. For families with younger children the super deluxe rooms on the ground floor are ideal as you can open the door and let them run straight into the garden. These rooms are also very close to the dining hall and within monitor reach.
Meals are served in the little dining room on the ground floor but you can also choose to eat at the tables on the outside verandas, which are in front of your rooms. The menu is predominantly Indian but Senkar, the cheery cook, is more than willing to help accommodate special requests and can whip up simple dishes such as macaroni cheese and omelettes for kids. It’s fair to say that the food is not the highlight of Shahar Palace but there are some treats on the menu such as banana lassis, hot chocolate and even milk with Bonvita.
For breakfast expect toast, fruit, juices and eggs (from the hotel’s own chickens) cooked to order.
Lunch & Dinner: If you plan to dine at the hotel you must let the kitchen know in advance (many guests choose to eat outside). Typical dishes on offer include chicken in tomato masala with fried potatoes, mutton or chicken curries, vegetarian and non-vegetarian thalis as well as dhal and chapatis.
For Kids: There is no dedicated kids’ menu but the kitchen does try to accommodate requests where possible. See our guide ’36 Hours in Jaipur’ for more restaurant recommendations.
Activities for Parents
Grab your binoculars and look out for the bee eaters, sunbirds and golden orioles that call the gardens of Shahar Palace home.
Chat to The Colonel, he was a member of the Poona Horse Regiment and has dozens of stories from his army days. His family history is quite fascinating too.
Explore Jaipur with the experts on an audio tour of the city, which introduces you to beautiful temples, colourful markets as well as the Pink City’s famous landmarks.
Climb up the hill to Amber Fort, peer out the windows of the Hawa Mahal and ogle at the enormous solid silver urns in the City Palace.
Lose yourself in the colourful cacophony of the old city with its vibrant bazaars selling everything from semi-precious stones and ornate textiles to traditional puppets and leather shoes.
Be inspired by one of the numerous talks, readings and panel discussions at the annual Jaipur Literature Festival held in January.
Set off on a jewellery pilgrimage taking in everything from the cheap and cheerful bangle lane in the old city and the affordable silver market to the legendary Gem Palace on MI Road.
Activities for Kids
Find the two ancient friendly tortoises that like to roam the shady grounds.
Find the best hiding spot in a game of hide and seek and then reward yourself with a large banana lassi.
Release your inner fashion designer at the Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing where you can block-print your own scarf or t-shirt.
Hop in an auto-rickshaw and explore the narrow, crowded streets of the Pink City, keeping an eye out for camels and elephants on the way.
Explore the mind-boggling shapes and structures at the Jantar Mantar, the largest stone observatory in the world.
Head into the old city and climb the steps of the Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds) to peer through the miniature windows at life passing by on the streets below.
A/C in some rooms, doctor on call, nearest hospital is approx. 20 mins away, laundry, pushchair-friendly.
At the time of writing rates were as follows:
Single / double occupancy: US $21 / 25
Extra bed: US $10
If 2 Rooms are booked together by one group for 4 people US $ 42
Single / double occupancy: US $34 / 44
Extra bed: US $ 15
If 2 Rooms are booked together by one group for 4 people US $ 70
If all 3 rooms booked together at the same time for 6 people US $ 105
Super Deluxe Rooms
Single / double occupancy: US $48 / 52
Extra bed: US $15
If 2 Rooms are booked together by one group for 4 people US $ 102 per night.
If all 3 rooms booked together at the same time for 6 people US $ 132 per night.
Rates are inclusive of breakfast and taxes.
Please contact the hotel directly for an exact quote based on your family’s requirements.
When to go:
The best time to visit is between October and March. From late November through February the days are sunny with temperatures hovering around 27C during the day and 10C at night. The peak tourist season is from mid-December to the end of January and if you plan to visit over this period, make sure to book accommodation well in advance.
The weather warms up in March and between April and June temperatures range between 32C and 45C. The monsoon rains fall between July and September when things get hot and sticky.
Jaipur’s Elephant Festival is held on the eve of Holi, celebrated in March, and the Jaipur Literature Festival is held annually in January.
Location & Travel:
Shahar Palace is located in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India.
Shahar Palace is located 13km from the Jaipur International Airport and can arrange airport transfers for an additional charge. The prepaid taxi counter at the airport is generally very efficient and often cheaper. There are regular daily flights in and out of Jaipur’s International Airport to numerous Indian cities. Domestic airlines servicing Jaipur include Jet Airways, GoAir, Indigo, Spice Jet and Air India.
Jaipur Railway Station is 5km from Shahar Palace and the hotel offers transfer services for an additional charge. Jaipur is easily reached by rail from Delhi, Agra, Ajmer, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Udaipur.
Contact The Hotel
For more information or to make a booking enquiry, visit the hotel’s own website by following the link below:
Reviewer’s Top Tips!
1) The food is really not a highlight, bring snacks for little kids and plan to eat lunch and dinner outside the hotel.
2) Time your visit to coincide with Holi, the spectacular festival of colour that marks the start of Spring.
3) Read our City Guide to Jaipur with kids!
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