Holiday review by Jackie and Alan
Name: Jackie and Alan
Date of trip: 18/11/2019
Number of people: 2
Our favourite hotels were Shahpura Bagh and Rohetgahr where we received impeccable service from every member of their respective staff and had fascinating conversations with the owners whilst the accommodation was wonderful and the food enjoyable. We are so glad we stayed 3 nights at Shahpura Bagh and think that the many guests who only stay one or two nights are really missing out on some of the wonderful experiences we enjoyed whilst staying there. We loved the sunset experience from Shahpura Bagh's 450+ year old fort and the river safari on Chambal river. Sunset and sunrise at the Taj Mahal was another unforgettable experience.
This holiday was an eye opener for us providing an insight into a very different culture to our own whilst seeing amazing historic buildings and sights and wildlife.
We found the information in Vamoos was really helpful and we regularly referred to it during our time away.
We want to express our thanks for all the help and professional advice provided by Paul who helped us put together this amazing trip. His knowledge and empathy for our needs undoubtedly was a major contribution to the overall success of our trip.
This is the second trip organised with Paul's help and we would have no hesitation in recommending Tribes or using them for any future appropriate trip.
All our guides were excellent although BP (Delhi), Manu (Jodhpur) and PK (Agra) deserve special mention whilst Shabbir (Shahpura Bagh’s guide) was superb. We felt that the guide in Pushkar wanted to extend our visit unnecessarily although given our realisation of the long drive ahead, we may be being a little unfair to him. The knowledge they displayed and their interest in the places we visited matched or exceeded that of guides we have had anywhere in the world. We would have no hesitation in recommending all of the guides. All guides turned up at the agreed time.
We had 3 drivers – one in Delhi, one in Udaipur and one (Mintu) for the rest of the journey. We were impressed by the standard of their driving and always felt safe (within the context of driving in India!) with them.
Mintu showed outstanding knowledge of the routes through the towns and between them and drove with great diligence. He also was very conscious of our safety, opening doors and directing us for our safety and gave us reasonable estimates of journey times.
He regularly explained which towns we were passing through, was always aware of when we might want to stop to take a photo or indeed need a washroom.
Social & Environmental Responsibility:
We don't feel we made any particular contribution other than supporting the areas we visited through our "holiday dollars". However, a number of the places we stayed were very conscious of the environment; for instance using purified water rather than bottled water and we were glad of that. Additionally, we made minor contributions to local causes such as the school at Shahpura Bagh.
Unfortunately, one might argue that travelling thousands of kilometres in a not so environmentally friendly diesel vehicle is perhaps the wrong thing to be doing.
The places you stayed
We were checked in efficiently with the help of our tour guide. We had a room on the 2nd floor overlooking the pool. It was well furnished and reasonably sized. The bath with shower lacked a hand rail for the shower (there was one on the bath) and that could risk a fall. They provided bottled water in the room, a good sized safe and good Wi-Fi.
There is a choice of restaurants and we ate dinner both nights of our stay in Pickwicks. There was a reasonable choice and the food was well presented, large portions and tasty. On one morning they were full at breakfast despite opening Dhaba, another restaurant. They took room numbers but gave tables to people arriving afterwards without calling those waiting first. They also claimed the food was the same in both locations but the choice was more limited in Dhaba than Pickwicks.
We had a look at the spa which seemed well fitted with saunas, modern changing rooms and a small gym.
Service was first class in every respect.
We'd have no hesitation in staying here again.
This is a review of superlatives. I know that poses a risk in that you, the reader, may have different expectations to us. So, let me set some basis. If you want TV and Wi-Fi in your room and a choice of restaurants and shops outside the hotel gates, then this isn't for you.
The Hotel & Grounds
The hotel surrounds a beautifully kept garden with lots of comfortable seating where one can relax, have lunch and enjoy tranquillity. Whilst we were staying, there was a magician performing in the evening - a nice touch. There is a small pool in a courtyard area where breakfast (downstairs) and dinner (upstairs) are served in pleasant rooms. At dinner time musicians entertain with Indian music.
A buffet style breakfast is served with a choice of Indian and European hot dishes, eggs and toast cooked to order, a couple of cereals, croissants, fresh fruit, etc. It is not a big choice large hotel affair but more than adequate with a focus on quality. For lunch and dinner there is an a la carte menu and at dinner a set price buffet which we had each night. The choice is not enormous but there is something for everybody. A la carte items are cooked fresh. The buffet is an excellent way to taste Indian food without having a whole dish one might not like. It wasn't clear why some people were offered the a la carte menu at dinner and others like us, directed to the buffet - we were booked Bed & Breakfast - but we didn't ask as we were satisfied with the buffet and the a la carte items took a while to prepare.
The manager and owner came to ensure we were happy several times with everything and were friendly and very helpful - first class. We also learned a little of the family history from the owner, which was fascinating. It is impossible to single out any other member of staff as they all provided impeccable service as an excellent team.
Each room is different so I can only describe ours. It was beautiful, large with several seating areas, a large walk in shower and a well-furnished large balcony area looking onto the garden. We also had a view of the lake. Bottled water, tea and coffee and a kettle and a few biscuits were provided. Our only criticism is that there was no handle in the shower and the tiles could be slippery, which is a potential fall risk.
For those who consider it important, the Wi-Fi works well in the garden area. The hotel also organises various trips. We took the jeep 'safari' to see some wild life and the local Bishnoi villages, see an opium ceremony, local pottery being made, etc. The guide was excellent and the experience well worthwhile.
Set your expectations right and you won't be disappointed. For us, a big thank you to all the staff for making our stay so enjoyable.
It appears that guests at this hotel tend to stay only one or two nights as it provides a stopping place between two other destinations. This is a real shame. Although there are no big sights to see close by, the local villages provide a real insight into local Indian life, whilst there is a host of wildlife to enjoy. This is coupled with a chance to relax, eat some great local food and learn how the generations of the family who own the property have contributed and continue to contribute to the local villages.
You won't find tailored lawns and flower beds here. Instead there is a rugged beauty that encourages the wildlife. Walking around we saw egrets, peacocks, owls as well as beautiful butterflies and much more. The pool area is beautiful and the public rooms full of character and lovely furnishings.
Service was first class, friendly and helpful from every member of staff whilst the owners explained the family and local history - conversations we will remember for the rest of our lives.
The hotel offers a variety of tours - one per night stay was included. Sunset from the family owned 450 year old fort with a drink is a must. It was one of the most fascinating and enjoyable experiences we have ever had.
We also took the villages tour which included a visit to the school supported by the owners and a visit to their farm. As we had displayed an interest in birds, Shabbir, the hotel guide, spent some time pointing out many of the local birds he spotted on the way stopping for photos. Shabbir's knowledge coupled with his keen willingness to make our tour enjoyable was brilliant and he must get the credit for achieving that goal. We can't thank him enough. He also produces some wonderful paintings so if you stay here be sure to leave room in your suitcase.
The rooms are all different but ours was huge, furnished with lovely antiques and a large comfortable bed. We also had a large bathroom complete with standalone bath and a separate large walk-in shower. Purified bottled water, tea and coffee making facilities were provided and the room contained plenty of seating and a large television. Wi-Fi was a bit unreliable in our room but fine elsewhere as well as by the beautiful pool.
There is no dinner menu - the owners eat the same food as the guests. However, on arrival we were asked about any restrictions and preferences and that was clearly taken into account in the variety of dishes provided. Breakfast was brought to our table and included cereal, fresh fruit, choice of tea and coffee and freshly cooked breakfast on request.
Staying here was a very different experience for us and one we thoroughly enjoyed. As always, one needs to set one's expectations appropriately. For us, our stay was one of the most enjoyable we've had in many years of travelling.
This is an amazing hotel with lovely gardens, a beautiful pool, magnificent public rooms and a roof top view over Jaipur (not pretty!)
Let's get a couple of negatives out of the way. The extensive restaurant menu offered the most expensive food we had in nearly three weeks in India. Typically, a main course without rice was priced as much the same as a 3-course buffet elsewhere. Although everything we had was well cooked and tasty, portion size was on the small size. It was challenging to pick out vegetarian main course dishes too. Some of the restaurant staff seemed rather disinterested and our dining experience did not consistently live up to the 5-star rating of the hotel.
Everything else we experienced was very positive. On arrival we were told we had a room upgrade and were given a beautiful very large ground floor suite. This contained a dining area complete with tea and coffee making facilities, a living area with television, a bedroom area, a large bathroom with his and her sinks, standalone bath tub and a large shower and our own private furnished courtyard.
Other than in the restaurant, service was impeccable. For instance, when we wanted to go up to the rooftop, a lady at reception insisted on showing us the way through the various corridors. We had told our travel agent that we had a significant anniversary whilst we were staying and, on that day, we found a bowl of fruit in our room, our bed decorated with a towel ‘sculpture’ and flower petals and a lovely touch - a celebration cake given to us after dinner. My partner made use of the Spa facilities choosing one of their signature massages and found that to be an excellent experience.
This is a large complex and it takes time to appreciate the various public rooms and gardens which makes a stay of at least 3 nights well worthwhile. Unfortunately, the immediate area surrounding the hotel is unattractive and if one wants to go out, one really needs to be taken.
In summary, it’s a shame that their restaurant high prices and some disinterested restaurant staff detracted from this otherwise excellent 5-star hotel.
We stayed just one night in this lovely hotel in order to visit the tourist sites of Agra and realised that it would have been a perfect hotel at which to chill out for 2 – 3 nights. The hotel is modern, spotlessly clean and provided excellent service from all the staff we encountered. Our room overlooked the garden and was designed for the less able being on the ground floor close to the hotel’s main amenities. It had a large walk-in shower and although the room itself was not particularly large, it served its purpose perfectly. The bed was on the hard side which might not suit everybody.
We had the buffet dinner and breakfast. Restaurant staff were very helpful, courteous and attentive and displayed genuine care to us and it seemed to all diners. The choice and quality of food was excellent and the buffet price reasonable.
All in all, a perfect place to stay in Agra.
We stayed in Sarus one of the luxury suites about 2 minutes walk from the main communal area. The suite was large, with a comfortable bed, large bathroom with his and her sinks and huge walk in shower and our own little courtyard. Purified water and tea and coffee were provided. The staff were all very attentive and the chef keen to please with a variety of dishes at breakfast, lunch and dinner. A nice touch is the log fire in the evening where one can gather for a pre-dinner drink with the other guests.
Of course, the main reason anyone should stay here is access to the abundant wildlife. We had a long walk around the surrounding fields with our guide pointing out a variety of birds and the odd jackal and antelope. We also took the river safari, which was an undoubted highlight of our visit with lots of fascinating wildlife to see. Again, our guide was excellent and very knowledgeable. A nice touch was a brief stop in the middle of the river when tea and coffee and cookies were served!
We also took the trip to see the Bateshwar temples on the banks of the river Yamuna. This was organised at sunset and we had the added advantage of a short boat ride plus more birds and, yes, some more tea and coffee as the sun set.
A very different experience, thoroughly enjoyed.