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Posts from the ‘Travel’ Category

In the Pink at Sujan Rajmahal Palace

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Sujan Rajmahal Palace

In the middle of negotiating the hectic roads of Jaipur our driver suddenly swings the car into a discreet driveway. We pass through a turreted “elephant gate” painted a pretty pale pink and follow the graveled route flanked by verdant gardens before pulling up outside a palace painted in the same sugary shade as the regal entranceway. Jaipur was painted pink for the visit of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband, but while the Rajasthan capital is more terracotta toned, this is a delightful, millennial pink.

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Sujan Rajmahal Palace

Smiling and smartly dressed men each wearing a distinctive candy coloured turban wait to welcome us. We are greeted – rather fittingly for The Pink City – with a glass of rose sparkling wine. So far, so Jaipur perhaps but inside is a complete surprise. Sujan Rajmahal Palace, now a luxury boutique hotel, may be approaching 300 years old but it has been interior decorated in a refreshingly contemporary way. Each of the public spaces is adorned with fantastically striking, custom made wallpaper from bright pinks and turquoise blues to sultry Art Deco chinoiserie and Indian inspired designs. The chandeliers, antiques and paintings remind you however that you are staying in a royal residence.

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Sujan Rajmahal Palace

As palaces go Rajmahal is on the petite side rather than a mammoth mausoleum with just 14 guest rooms – it was commissioned by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II for his wife. Society interior designer Adil Ahmad, recently commissioned to spruce the place up, has achieved a sumptuous cosiness that feels like a private home albeit a very grand one.

Jaipur’s royal family still own Rajmahal (it is run by Sujan the renowned company behind luxury tented camps throughout Rajasthan), the queen mother’s Thunderbird takes pride of place in the entranceway and the princess has an office in the grounds though they reside in the far larger City Palace in old Jaipur (the hotel can arrange a private tour of this palace as well as secure you a set in the royal box at the polo).

While still a royal residence, Rajmahal played host to the likes of Queen Elizabeth the second, the Prince and Princess of Wales and Jackie Kennedy as the framed black and white photographs and the names of the suites attest. Beautiful carpets gifted by another distinguished visitor, the Shah of Iran, hang on the walls as the Maharini magnanimously wanted everyone to enjoy them. The family’s love of “the sport of kings” is also reflected in The Polo Bar, lined with trophies and photographs.

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Sujan Rajmahal Palace

Our Palace Room is reached via a stunning marble staircase and curved corridor and like all the guest rooms and suites lies discreetly behind mirrored doors which adds to the feeling of a private home. Inside our host tells me “A Maharini does not make her own coffee,” before explaining that there are no facilities for hot beverages in the room: “You ring and we will bring you coffee.”

Another special touch is that afternoon tea is served to hotel guests every day between 4pm and 6pm. You may have it wherever you wish but an especially charming spot is on the manicured lawn under a series of charming open sided tents (pink hued of course).

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Sujan Rajmahal Palace

A pleasant surprise for the (relatively) diminutive size of the hotel is that there are three dining rooms, each more strikingly designed than the other: the grand Orient Occident is open for dinner while the cool mint Colonnade and 51 Shades of Pink (decorated as the name suggests) restaurants both serve breakfast and lunch. All offer the same menu of Indian and Western dishes, we stuck resolutely to the former which is excellent.

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Sujan Rajmahal Palace

We also tried one of the Sujan Rajmahal Palace’s private dining experiences one evening, dining in one of the aforementioned tents on the lawn. At night the scene is enticingly lit by lanterns and makes for a very pretty venue.

Once you’ve ticked off sightseeing inside the old walled city and the Amber Fort; and shopped ‘til you’ve dropped in the bazaars and boutiques, Rajmahal Palace provides a whimsical oasis. We spend our days exploring in the early mornings, after breakfasting on fresh juice and stuffed parathas, and retreating to Rajmahal in the heat of the afternoon.

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Sujan Rajmahal Palace

The hotel has the bonus of a large, glamorous looking swimming pool surrounded by inviting sun loungers.  The designer has had fun here too with a shady terrace complete with mirrors and modern chandeliers which looks spectacular at dusk.

And a note for shopping fans: there’s a branch of the revered New Delhi based Kashmir Loom at Rajmahal so you can stock up on the best cashmere shawls without leaving the grounds.

www.sujanluxury.com

 

In Singapore for business or the F1 or both?

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View of Singapore skyline from the Lantern Bar, Fullerton Bay Hotel

Then follow Chopstix’s guide to Singapore’s CBD and beyond…

The small city state island of Singapore is immaculately clean and lusciously green with gleaming new skyscrapers juxtaposed by colonial era buildings and plenty of glossy shopping malls and restaurants. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find traditional shophouses with shuttered windows and fronted by undercover walk ways in Chinatown and Little India and a melting pot of cuisines in Singapore’s signature hawker centres.

Being practically on the equator The Lion City has two types of weather: hot and wet or hot and wetter. Although the “wet” season is around September to February there is no bad time to visit. Carry an umbrella with you at all times anyway – either to protect from the downpours or the sun.

 

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The Lantern Bar, Fullerton Bay Hotel

If you’re doing business in the CBD you’ll be spoilt for choice for lunch spots after work hang outs in this compact area bordered by the Singapore river and the bay. A perennial favourite is The Lantern Bar, a glamorous pool side terrace on top of the chic Fullerton Bay hotel and overlooking the water.

The art deco-esque Black Swan is great for salads and surf and turf in a sultry but casual while a short hop over the river, Gunther’s in a charming shophouse serves contemporary French fare to the expense account set.

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Odette at the National Gallery Singapore

The city’s Civic District has recently been spruced up with the main gem being the National Gallery, a stunning monolith that’s actually two colonial structures conjoined with some clever modern architecture. Inside holds the largest collection of Southeast Asian art and the F&B outlets are equally impressive including French fine diner, Odette, and National Kitchen by Violet Oons, the doyenne of Singa’s dining scene with her Peranaken cuisine – a hybrid of Chinese and Malay cooking. Smoke & Mirrors on the top floor is a terrace bar that overlooks the Padang, the bay and CBD

Further afield on Orchard Road is Iggy’s. Owner, wine connoisseur and convivial host, Ignatius Chan was at the forefront of bringing fine dining to Singapore. Newer names have come on the scene but Iggy’s still holds its own with a recent refurb and new chef. 

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Iggy’s, Singapore

A short taxi drive away is the glorious Singapore’s Botannic Gardens. This sprawling tropical eden includes lakes, secluded pathways and the famous Orchid enclave. Go early in the morning or late afternoon like the locals do when the heat is less oppressive. 

Uniquely Singaporean are the Hawker Centres – food stalls grouped together in covered settings and complete with health and safety ratings – so essentially street food for softies. The centrally located Lau Pa Sat is the prettiest with its Victorian wrought iron carousel design. If you’re only going to order one thing make it the satays

Stay

The Warehouse Hotel

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Singapore’s most talked about hotel opening of the year is a converted riverside warehouse among the busy eateries of Robertson Quay. The space retains its industrial design flavour with some quirky details thrown in. 

Parkroyal on Pickering

Based on the fringes of both Chinatown and the CBD the hotel has a spectacular, verdant design and includes an infinity pool with city skyline view.

Five Luxury Family Holidays in Asia

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Villas overlooking the rice field at Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai

Luxury resorts catering to multigenerations have evolved enormously in recent years offering children’s cooking classes and spa treatments to wildlife excursions and cultural activities for the whole family. And multigenerational or 3G holidays where grandparents, parents and kids holiday together, are on the rise fuelling even more demand for a great family getaway. Here are five of the best luxury resorts in Asia that offer more than the usual kid’s clubs.

Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai

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Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai

This northern Thai resort resembles an impressive film set of a Lanna style enclave. A paddy field at its heart is surrounded by two storey teak villas some with their own pools. Both kids and adults can ride on the paddy’s resident water buffalo and learn about rice planting (above). Over at the rustic Arts and Crafts Village families can try out traditional Lanna skills such as rice pounding, bamboo weaving and paper cutting. There are also child specific activities including meditation and yoga in a one hundred year old wooden house. Leaving parents free to visit the stunning spa.

http://www.dharadhevi.com

The Datai, Langkawi

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The Datai, Langkawi

With its enchanting rainforest setting, The Datai has access to mangroves and waterways as well as being close to the sea. Accommodation spans rooms in the main house to Rainforest or Beach Villas. There’s a variety of restaurants too most beguiling of which is the treehouse like Pavilion, on 30 metres high stilts and shaded by the forest (above). Monkeys roam freely around the resort. Resident naturalist Irshad Mobarak guides complementary morning and evening walks through the rainforest pointing out plants and wildlife such as flying lemurs. Families may book a number of adventures including kayaking through the mangroves to spot kingfishers and eagles, trekking though the jungle and swimming in natural pools.

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Children’s Beach Combing at The Datai

http://www.thedatai.com

[UPDATE: The Datai closed on September 4th 2017 for refurbishment and will re open July 2018]

Cheval Blanc Randheli, Maldives

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Teens’ Club at Cheval Blanc Randheli

Part of the prestigious Cheval Blanc stable, Randheli has been slickly designed by the starchitect Jean-Michel Gathy. There are trademark romantic over-water pavilions but also family friendly Island villas which have two bedrooms and a large outside dining area. No details have been overlooked with specially designed mini furniture and food and drink menus for kids. As well as dedicated play areas for children and teenagers with wall to wall activities, the resort organises Mini Olympics where the whole family can take part in swim races, volleyball, beach football and rope pulling. Finished off with a barbecue on the beach.

http://www.randheli.chevalblanc.com/en

Soori, Bali

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Pool villa at Alila Villas Soori

Soori, on the quieter West coast of Bali, is an all-villa resort, all of which with plunge pools and most have direct access to the beach. The pared back, modern design carries on in the restaurants (though in villa dining is very popular here) and the spa (which has children’s treatments). Journeys for the Little Ones offer children an insight into local life and culture. Choose from visiting a nearby bat cave, traditional Balinese kite making (and flying), creating terracotta pieces with a local craftsman, learning to bake with the pastry chef or dressing up and learning to dance like a Balinese princess. Move over Disney.

http://www.sooribali.com

Amanpuri, Phuket

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A pool villa at Amanpuri

Set in a coconut grove on an isolated peninsula of the island, Amanpuri is designed to appeal as much to Aman Juniors as Aman Junkies. Two bedroomed pavilions overlooking the sea come with a private swimming pool and outdoor dining area. With their parents present, Aman Juniors may try spa treatments, snorkel and kayak in the Andaman Sea or take a dingy out to an ocean platform to feed the fish. Amanpuri also has its own fleet of boats from sleek yachts to a Chinese junk for swimming, snorkeling or scuba diving or a cruise to nearby islands.

http://www.aman.com/resorts/amanpuri

Best Presidential Suites in Hong Kong

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The Peninsula Suite

 

The Peninsula

The grande dame of Hong Kong hotels has had a little nip and tuck recently including the presidential show piece: The Peninsula Suite.

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Top 3 Hotels (and their Restaurants) for Hong Kong’s 20th SAR Anniversary

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View of Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour from the Kerry Hotel

2017 marks the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s SAR so expect an even more fireworks than usual (ahem). The celebrations start at 8pm on July 1st so make sure you have your hotel room and restaurant booked. These are our three top spots – all on the Kowloon side for optimum viewing:

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