I can’t quite find the words to describe the understated opulence of The Leela Palace Jaipur. Some might use ‘inspired’, a word that I toyed around with for a while, before dismissing it, given that it hardly does justice to the elegance of this property. The Leela Palace Jaipur is nestled against the grandeur of the Aravallis, a short drive away from the bustling city centre of the Pink city. It’s striking at the first look, magnificent in its presence, impressive in scale and attention to detail.
A verdant courtyard welcomes guests who can then head to the reception located in Tulsi Mahal, where a gurgling fountain in a lotus occupies pride of place. An elaborate pattern on the backdrop highlights the use pf mirror tikri work, a technique native to Rajasthan. Complex and labour intensive, tirki work is often found in the palaces peppered around the city of Jaipur. It’s quite fitting then that the The Leela Palace Jaipur pays homage to the city it is in. The walls also inevitably catch your eye. The ornamentation around the room uses araish- a technique that creates a reflective surface out of plaster (a complicated process requiring several hours and a high degree of skill), that shines when it catches the light.
Art, culture and brand Leela are inextricably intertwined. In the increasingly competitive hospitality industry, this is what sets the brand apart. This year, for the second time, The Leela Jaipur associated with Jaipur Literature Festival which is now in its 16th edition.
As a part of the offering, The Leela Palace Jaipur was the culinary and hospitality partner at the Speakers Lounge at JLF. With exclusive access, this was where the stalwarts of the industry spent time between sessions, chatting comfortably with contemporaries, weighing in on the line up of the day and perhaps getting inspired by fellow writers, authors and poets. On a day, I spotted Javed Akhtar amicably chatting under the warm winter sun, while in another corner, Gulzar talked to a captive audience. The Leela Palace Jaipur also played host the coveted Writers’ Ball on 23rd January amidst its spectacular settings with stimulating conversations, rounded off with a live performance by Sattar Khan and troupe. The evening was attended by prominent personalities such as Mr. Sanjoy Roy, Mr. William Dalrymple, Mr. Vir Sanghvi, Ms Seema Goswami, Ms. Shobhaa De, Andrew Logan, Olivia Dalrymple, Asad Laljee, Guillermo Rodriguez, Monica de la Fuente, Enakshi Ganguli and Puneeta Roy, Tripti Pandey and more.
The Palatial Pleasures
This confluence with art percolates down to every nook at The Leela Palace Jaipur. Kanishka Bagh is a sprawling and lush lawn that is flanked by a wall that features intricate mirror tikri work. Here, as the sun sets, the evening ritual of Dharohar takes place with the diyas catching the light in the mirrors and coming alive. Rajasthani folk dancers offer a peek into the folk dances of the region.
Each walkway at the property has artwork in vibrant hues of yellows and blues. The water features at the palace are plentiful, each one sitting prettily in expansive courtyards. Rajasthani art finds a prominent place around the property. The rooms are decadent, each one designed to make you want to never want to leave. In the crisp winter sun, the temperature-controlled plunge pool required some courage to dip into, but when I did, I was suitably impressed at just how rejuvenated I felt.
Breakfast spreads will always find favour with me, and the spread at The Leela Palace Jaipur has meals truly fit for queens and kings alike. There are the specialities, the local delicacies, lovely cheeses (I gorged on the cheddar which was subtle and creamy and delicious. Have I gone on for too long about cheese?)
But truly the highlight of the experience here is a meal at Mohan Mahal. While I can write reams about the meals here, because it truly is worth the platitudes, what elevates this experience is the setting. Mohan Mahal has no lights. The entire space is lit up the candles, and the lights catch off the work on the tikri work on the walls and light up the entire restaurant. It truly is magical. There is not a fan in sight (obviously) but on a cold winter night, you wouldn’t miss it in the least. Mohan Mahal serves local Rajasthani fare, inspired by the meals served at the royal palace. If you are curating a list of the places to experience in Jaipur, this should certainly top that list.
The Leela Palace Jaipur is where the interplay of art and luxury truly comes alive. The nuanced intricacies in decor, the truly personalised service (we had a butler service that was prompt and almost intuitive- a huge shoutout to Akanksha and Sanya for taking care of me) and the attention to detail make this more than just another stay, it makes it an undeniably luxurious experience you’re unlikely to forget.