This opulent hotel celebrates the life of the last Maharaja of Bikaner, a colourful, well-travelled character as shown by the eclectic decor and furnishings including tribal artwork, colourful Portuguese tiles, ming vases, art deco artefacts, a vintage Morris Minor motor car and a bright red baby grand piano called Ella! The maharaja's house forms the core of the hotel, and to this new rooms have been added, in traditional Rajasthani style, providing mod cons for guests alongside echoes of a bygone era.
From the grand enrance to the imposing diwali chowk, the vast central courtyard, the hotel is lavish and rich in detail. There are lounges, halls, colonnaded terraces, verandas, a games room complete with a billiards table, refined tea lounge and elegant restaurant, all decorated to reflect different stages in the life of Narendra Singhji and evoking memories of his travels. Heading up to the roof you find a lovely terrace, sunny by day and bathed in atmospheric soft lighting after dark, with an infinty pool and dining area and views across the Bikaner skyline.
The style of the 82 guest rooms represents the varied tastes of the Maharaja. Some are traditional, some are steeped in Indian art deco, and others have a more contemporary feel. All are equipped with air conditioning, TV and minibar, and have modern bathrooms.
While here you can explore the city of Bikaner independently or through a tour arranged by hotel staff that takes in Junagarh Fort and museum and elaorately carved merhcants' havelis. Staff can also arrange breakfast by a lake and a sundowner trip to the sand dunes.
Open: Narendra Bhawan is open all year.
Location: The hotel is in the city of Bikaner, some 330kms northwest of Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan state.
Rooms: There are 82 guest rooms with contrasting decor and furnishings based on different stages in the life of the last maharaja of Bikaner, Narenda Singhji, whose house this was until his death in 2003. All are air conditioned, have TV, minibar, en-suite bathroom, some with whirlpool bath, with a supply of toiletries and a hairdryer.
Activities: You can play billiards in the games room, swim and relax on the rooftop terrace, visit the spa and gym, all on site. You can go sightseeing in Bikaner, and the hotel offers a city tour.
Facilities: These include a lounge with a selection of reference books, games room with a billiards table, terrace, spa specialising in flower therapy, sauna, gym and a rooftop infinity pool. There is a restaurant, dining terrace and a café (see below). There’s a large central courtyard, the Diwali chowk, and an exotically decoarted tea lounge. Jazz music is often played in the hotel foyer.
Dining: The main restaurant, ‘P&C’ short for Pearls and Chiffons, is an elegant paneled room where you can enjoy Indian and international food, and there’s an dining area by the rooftop pool. ‘Mad Hatter’ is the bakery-cum-café, serving snacks.
Children: Children of all ages are welcome. Child minding can be arranged.
Health: We recommend malaria prophylactics for travel to India.
Communication: There is Wi-Fi internet access.
"Stunning interiors, and eclectic collections and a bugler to welcome us on arrival. We had a very comfortable art deco room but didn't spend long enough in the hotel to properly test the facilities. We were, however, very satisfied with everything."