I am a recent convert when it comes to staycations and retreats. Rains in Noida and an insatiable spirit to break out of routine took us to a gorgeous Taj property – Sawai Madhopur Lodge.
Spread over 16 acres, this is a 100 year old property. Say what?! 😅😀 Yeah, not kidding! This hotel was built as a hunting ground for the royal family of Jaipur. Along with their British friends, the royal family would stay here to catch a break after hunting for Spotted deer, Sambhar deer, Leopards and the Royal Bengal Tigers. And then happened – 15th August, 1947. That and other things, Tata took over the management of a few properties of the Royal family of Jaipur and gave us – Rambagh Palace in Jaipur and Sawai Madhopur Lodge in Ranthambore, amidst other exquisite experiences.
The touch of royalty
Not all old things look royal by the way. Some manage to appear creepy and downright scary too. But not the Sawai Madhopur Lodge! At a distance of 20mins. from Zone 6 of Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, this place is a promise of luxury, adventure and a heritage experience.
The art deco mansion, chequered floors, huge verandahs, jaalidaar patterns and a show of taxidermy (tigers and leopards) manage to catch your attention every now and then. Royal portraits adorn the walls in the waiting space, dining area and verandahs.
Hidden and Visible gems inside the property
The place is so huge that you need golf carts to move from one place to another. I preferred to cycle though. They had a few cycles kept for guests who are inquisitive like yours truly. I took one from the station and breezed through the premises checking out the swimming pool area, barbecue place, various dining spots, recreation areas, cottages, suites and luxury rooms with attached hammocks & garden views.
By the way, if you love telling/ listening to stories, pry the staff a little bit & they will share stories of Queen Elizabeth II and Duke of Edinburg, who have stayed in the property in the past.
Experience a piece of Luxury with their spa and in-room amenities
We got an upgrade, and hence a suite-like room with a bathroom the size of two (or maybe three) conference rooms put together. With the couch, almirah and huge bathing space, you won’t feel like leaving the bathroom ever. The room itself was huge with a garden view. Extra-large study table, a plus size, plush sofa and beautiful wall paintings. If you leave the bathroom somehow, you won’t feel like leaving the room. 😀😀
But I did, I left the room to enter the spa next door which smelt of Bergamot, Jasmine and musk. Who needs to go for an extra round of Aromatherapy then? I went for a back massage and a foot massage. 75 mins later, I didn’t have a single sore muscle, or an evil thought or any thread of anxiety. Only smiles.
Their spa services are decently priced and are affordable. Ranging between 1200 bucks for a foot space to 3500 for full body massage, it’s quite good in terms of cost.
Except breakfast, we ordered in-room dining on most days. The food was tasty. Some items were totally finger-licking good such as Dal Makhani, Paranthas, Kadi-Kachori & Besan Cheela. And the rest ranged between fine to good. The one thing that stands out is how much interest they took in customising the tea for me – mild-tasting, extra ginger, extra cardamom with less milk. Oh, I was the happiest. By the way, this has been common in all Taj properties* that I have stayed in the last 5-6 years. They all customise the tea (and get it right), and happily!
* I am sure it’s not exclusive to Taj properties. Many others would do this too. I am just stating it. After all, who needs to stay in a 4 star or a 5 star to get their tea customised?! 😀
Book a Jungle Safari
It’s a cardinal sin to come to Ranthambore and not go on a jungle safari. We do atleast 6 safaris on each of our visits, and then there are addicts who do 12-18 safaris on each of their visits. But you don’t have to do several. Go for 2 safaris and explore the jungle like a pro.
If you are going in monsoons, Tiger sighting is the most difficult. But then the forest is beautiful, lush-green. Do go to Zone 6 for a monsoon jungle safari and get blown over by the Green-ness!
The best time for Tiger Safaris is summers when the Tiger comes out to drink water, and you can catch a glimpse.
Ranthambore is 7-8 hours away from Delhi NCR, by road. It’s a non-scenic and taxing ride. We have done that a few times. You also have to exercise caution while driving to ensure no Neelgai comes out of the blue (hahaha) and bumps into your vehicle. Alternatively you can book a train from NDLS (New Delhi) to Ranthambore & arrive in 5 hours.
1. Train ticket (per person) – INR 600 for 3rd AC and INR 900 for 2nd AC.
2. Jungle Safari (per person) – INR 1200 (irrespective of the zone or the timing of the safari). 6 people go in one safari plus a guide and a driver 😀.
3. Stay at Sawai Madhopur Lodge – INR 15000 – INR 22000 per night depending upon the room you book.
4. Lunch/ Dinner at Sawai Madhopur Lodge – INR 1000 – INR 1800 for two people plus taxes.
5. If you sight a tiger, tip the guide and the driver pls. You can decide the amount but a minimum of INR 100 per person.