Family Hotel Review: Samode Haveli, Jaipur India
One of the few heritage hotels located within the walls of the old city is this 180-year-old palace that has been transformed into a luxury family-friendly hotel with a dedicated kids’ pool and even a mini-playground.
Best For: Culture hunters and history buffs; kids of all ages.
Reviewed by: Katja Gaskell
Why You’ll Love It
One of the few heritage hotels located within the walls of the old city, this 180-year-old palace has been beautifully and sensitively restored and now operates as a 39-bedroom luxury family-friendly hotel.
Much of the original mansion remains, from the main entrance (an elephant ramp used by royal bridegrooms) and the authentic Rajput architecture, to the intricately painted dining room and spectacular Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors). The lush gardens, regal courtyards and traditional archways and alcoves only add to its charm.
Undoubtedly one of the highlights of staying at the Samode Haveli is the Moorish-style swimming pool, which is easily the best in town. The hotel’s position (it was constructed facing north, away from the fiery Rajasthan sun) makes it a surprisingly cool place to stay even during the hotter months. It’s a wonderful retreat in the heart of the busy old town.
Why The Kids Will Love It
This is a great hotel for kids. The building itself is a wonderful place to explore with narrow passageways, seemingly secret staircases, bubbling fountains and generous gardens.
And then there’s the swimming pool, which is simply sublime. For big kids and teens there’s the lap pool and for little kids there’s a small wading pool, ideal for splashing. Positioned to one side of the pools are enormous Indian day beds, which are perfect for reading, relaxing and even taking a nap.
There’s a small children’s playground near the pool with a couple of swings, a seesaw and a slide. In the evenings the monkeys scamper along the rooftops; suddenly the hotel’s request that guests keep their bedroom windows closed make sense. Parents of younger children should note that this is an old building with some steep staircases.
What we like best about this hotel, however, is that children are treated like proper guests and the staff could not be more helpful.
The 39 rooms and suites come in varying shapes and sizes, all oozing history. The rooms are divided into Deluxe Rooms, Deluxe Suites, the Sheesh Mahal, and the Haveli Suites. All the rooms have kingsize beds apart from six that are twin bedded. They all come with a mini-bar, tea/coffee making facilities and a TV.
All the rooms are different; some come with painted pillars and decorative alcoves, while others boast cusped arches and tiny coloured-glass windows. All are furnished with Rajasthani antiques, and old hunting photographs and family portraits hang along the walls of the rooms and the passageways.
The Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors), one of the most ornate rooms, can be found in the zenana, the corner of the home traditionally reserved for women. This divine low-ceilinged suite has dozens of pillars painted with delicate miniature paintings and glistening mirror work.
An extension was added to the hotel with nine newly constructed Haveli Suites all decorated in traditional heritage style. These are large and spacious and well placed for the gardens and swimming pool.
Best Rooms for Families: The majority of rooms are spacious although some are more appropriate for families than others owing to location and access.
On the garden level near the pool are two Deluxe Suites and three Deluxe Rooms, which are all ideal for families owing to their size and proximity to the pool. Two of these are inter-connecting rooms (Deluxe Rooms 117 and 118). These rooms also benefit from a private patio with table and chairs and families travelling with younger children can choose to dine here rather than the restaurant if they like.
The nine Haveli Suites in the new annex are large and spacious and well suited to larger families.
Samode Haveli allows one extra bed and one extra mattress per room; please note that this rule varies according to room dimensions.
The main restaurant is housed within the original dining hall and is covered floor to ceiling in intricate miniature paintings. It’s impressive, although it can feel a little gloomy on sunny days. Breakfast is served here; lunch and dinner can be enjoyed either here or outside in the main courtyard.
The Pool Pavilion serves snacks throughout the day and is a good option for lunch and early evening meals for kids. The food at Samode Haveli is generally very good.
The breakfast buffet features cereal, pastries, toast, fruit and juices and eggs can be cooked to order.
The lunch and dinner menu offers Rajasthani and traditional Indian cuisine alongside International dishes. The thalis are very good (and very large) and are highly recommended.
For Kids: Although there is no dedicated kids’ menu, there are child-friendly dishes on offer, particularly on the snack menu at the Pool Pavilion. Toasted cheese sandwiches, pasta and more can be ordered throughout the day.
Activities for Parents:
Swim laps in the pool, splash about with the kids and then laze about on one of the glorious daybeds within the Poolside Pavilion.
Rejuvenate with an Ayurvedic massage in the spa after a day touring the Pink City’s streets.
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.
Wander the vast complex of the City Palace and wonder at the world’s largest sterling silver vessels that were used to carry Ganga (Ganges) river water from India to England in 1901.
Visit the legendary Gem Palace and splash some rupees on some traditional Indian designs or commission your own.
Activities for Kids:
Run riot in the gardens, play on the playground and then cool off by splashing about in the hotel’s fabulous swimming pool.
Learn the history, myths and legends of Rajasthan while watching a traditional puppet show in the hotel’s main courtyard.
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.
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.
Explore the mind-boggling shapes and structures at the Jantar Mantar, the largest stone observatory in the world.
A/C, babysitting with advanced notice, common rooms, cots, doctor on call, nearest hospital is approx. 30 mins away, 1 extra bed per room, inter-connecting rooms, kids’ swimming pool, laundry, spa, swimming pool, travel desk, WiFi.
At the time of writing the rates were as follows:
Deluxe Room: USD $132
Deluxe Suite: USD $164
Haveli Suite: USD $193
Sheesh Mahal Suite: USD $193
Duplex Haveli Suite: USD $193
Rates vary according to season. Rates do not include 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.
Holi, the festival of Spring, is celebrated in March. The Jaipur Literature Festival is held annually in January.
Location & Travel:
Samode Haveli is located in the heart of the walled city of Jaipur, Rajasthan, India. Samode Haveli is located 17 km from the 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. The nearest international airport is Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport. Domestic airlines servicing Jaipur include Jet Airways, GoAir, Indigo, Spice Jet and Air India.
Jaipur Railway Station is 6km from Samode Haveli and the hotel offers transfer services for an additional charge. Jaipur is easily reached by rail from Delhi, Agra, Ajmer, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Udaipur.