Bujera Fort, Udaipur
The Abridged: Newly built 12-room modern Mughal abode cum English country home (complete with black and golden labs). Rooms have a hint of Kit Kemp and the food is straight out of River Cafe by way of Rajasthan. Under thirty minutes from town though it feels like a world away.
"I didn't want to grow old in England!", scoffs owner Richard, over a cup of tea served in exquisite blue and white bone china. Inspired by Deborah Moggach's "These Foolish Things" (who was in turn the inspiration behind "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" films, shot in Udaipur no less) so he, and partner Trish McFarlane, upped sticks and moved to India. As one does in your sixties. You’d be fooled for thinking that the little rural village of Bujera had a long and colourful history with the imposing Bujera Fort. So seamlessly do its coral pink walls (inspired by the nearby Kumbhalgarh Fort), cascading with bougainvillea, traverse its roads. One conjures tales of ruling Maharajas and long disbanded feudal systems. But in reality, this property is only a few years old. As British as apple crumble, owner Richard has succeeded in creating a modern Moghul pleasure palace meets English country home, with the recent addition of two golden and black Labrador puppies, Sadie and Jack, for good measure. What’s not to love?
Four-poster and fit for a Queen. Richard sourced many of the furnishing for interior lover's favourite, Ham Yard hotel in London, and it shows. Upholstered headboards compliment grand silver-inlayed beds. As much of the furniture as possible is reclaimed, refurbished, and repurposed. You'll find maps on Northumberland adorning the walls and a selection of hand-picked books including downstairs loo favourites like "The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs" by Alexander McCall Smith. Bathrooms are clad in Udaipur’s speciality, marble, and all of them include enormous baths, block-printed dressing gowns, and floral KAMA toiletries.
River Café by way of Rajasthan. Afternoon tea is served daily (to the tune of a zesty lemon drizzle cake and buttery biscuits). For lunch and sinner, soups (piping hot and comforting in the summer, cold and refreshing in the winter) are accompanied by tangy Parmesan biscuits. Fresh salads from the organic vegetable garden are served alongside fresh lemon pastas, soufflés, and a proper roast on Sundays. For those with a sweet tooth, homemade puddings of crumbles and tarts are utterly indulgent. Breakfast is a spread of fresh fruits, yoghurts, cereals, along with homemade pastries and jams. The lemon marmalade is a particular favourite. Plus eggs to order (proper scrambled eggs no less). Author’s tip? Don’t hold back.
Richard really doesn’t miss a thing, and runs a tight ship. And it’s the attention to detail that really shines through. All meals are served on the finest bone china, and poured out of silver teapots, imported from the UK. In the winter months you’ll find a roaring bonfire surrounded by chatting guests enjoying a pre-dinner drink and aperitifs, and a turndown service of hot water bottles in your beds. A personal favourite touch. There's a library full of books to read (you'll find plenty of classic) and endless nooks and corners around the property to hideaway and get lost.
The perfect guest: Travellers looking to explore with a few home comforts
Best time to visit: October to March
Spa: Yes, with traditional Ayurvedic massages and an excellent physiotherapist Gym: No, but yoga classes can be arranged
Best Room: The West Suite
Wi-Fi: Yes, a little slow but it’s currently being upgraded Pet Friendly: They’ve two adorable dogs already, so you can’t bring your own
Room Service: Sort of. There are no phones in the room, but you can get tea and coffees there. Meals are to be taken in the dining area though.
Rates: £141 per room, per night inc. breakfast exc. taxes
For bookings click here.