A Weekend in


Words and images by Rosanna Falconer
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Left: Amber Fort. Right: Villa Palladio; © Rosanna Falconer. 

Inspired by Jaipur's intoxicating mix of architectural splendour, old world craft and new world energy, Rosanna Falconer moved to Rajasthan's Pink City in 2022. She shares her tips for a magical weekend in Jaipur, from flower markets and frescoed forts to palaces, hidden treasures and the best masala chai. 


I first visited Jaipur on honeymoon five years ago, and it hit me straightaway. 'Hit' feels the only word appropriate: from its heady scents to its dawn-to-dusk harmonies of trains, tuk tuks and peacock calls, this is a city that rushes at you, in the most energising, stimulating way. I was addicted from that first moment, and Jaipur remains the most inspiring, exciting city I know. So much so that, five months ago, our family moved here - a serendipitous happenstance of job moves and a house renovation - ready to embrace the city in all its colorful, noisy glory.
It's been three years since my last visit, but the city is flourishing. This is apparent in the entrepreneurial spirit of the new generation, while Jaipur's long-established, iconic businesses and crafts are benefiting from a resurgence in domestic, and international, tourism. H.H. Maharaja Sawai Padmanabh ‘Pacho’ Singh​ is just 24 and brilliantly in tune with the tastes of the modern traveller. Part of the City Palace, where he and his family reside, is available on AirBnB with proceeds from each booking going to his mother's non-profit, The Princess Diya Kumari Foundation. Meanwhile the local government is making strides in prioritising green space and cleaner air.
The Pink City, the Paris of India, romantic clichés abound over this city. After five months of living here, for me, they are true. These are my Jaipur tips, a round-up of favorites that no visitor should miss...


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Left: Samode Palace. Right: Nahargarh Fort; © Rosanna Falconer.

Where to Stay


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Left: Samode Palace. Right: Villa Palladio; © Rosanna Falconer.

Villa Palladio
Twenty-five minutes outside the city, this boutique hotel feels a world away. Founder, Barbara Miolini, and creative director, Marie-Anne Oudejans, have created a wonderland: towered rooms, frescoed suites, all depicted in every shade of red and encased by grounds full of roses, organic vegetables and topiary. Every element of design is considered: from Marie-Anne's bespoke block-printed cushions to the library’s classic novels jacketed in red.


Rajmahal Palace
Once the home of Maharaja Sawai Man Singh and Maharini Gayatri Devi, this hotel still belongs to Jaipur's royal family. Its pastel Art Deco design is the stuff of fantasy, with pink-turbaned waiters foreseeing your every whim. This is also a favorite among friends for lunch or drinks; order the Mathania Paddy Field cocktail and the pomelo and avocado salad.
Samode Haveli
This 18th century family haveli is right in the heart of the Old City but its courtyards and gardens are serenity itself, with birdsong, fountains and the call to prayer the only soundtrack to your stay. Request the Sheesh Mahal suite - the walls are adorned with 200-year-old hand-painted murals and mirror work highlighted in real gold and rubies - and don't forget to try the hotel's signature date and jaggery ice cream: a delicious, inspired flavor.
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Amanbagh; © Rosanna Falconer.

Samode Palace
The regal sister hotel to the haveli, this 16th century palace is an hour from Jaipur in the characterful village of Samode. Heritage hotels abound in Rajasthan, but Samode Palace's rooms, particularly the Durbar Hall, are history at its most splendid. From murals of the Diwan-i-Khas to the gemstones of the Sheesh Mahal, ask Mr Singh for a tour; he has been working here for 30 years. As the sun sets, walk into the village to see colorful bangles being made from the resin of banyan trees, gem cutting by hand and the sounds of puja at the temple.
Amanbagh translates as peaceful garden, which is blissfully true of this hotel 90 minutes from the city. The interiors are exquisite and an ode to the local area: sandstone in Jaipur pink, jade marble from Udaipur and polished wood. Rise early for the dawn walk to the local village of Ajabgarh; you’ll pass mustard fields, goat herds and women in brightly colored shawls, all lit by sunrise through the Aravalli Hills. For a special occasion, we loved the private dinner in a 16th century chhatri (domed pavilion).

Where to Eat & Drink


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Bar Palladio, Jaipur; © Rosanna Falconer.

Bar Palladio
This was the first stroke of brilliance from dynamic duo Barbara Miolini and Marie-Anne Oudejans. Opened 9 years ago, it has Amalfi coast style but with Rajasthani flair. Blue is the colour: from the iconic floral frescoes to the canopied daybeds in the courtyards. It's always buzzing from 4pm each day or Sundays have a quieter family vibe when it opens at 12.30pm.
Polo Bar, Rambagh Palace Hotel
Hands down the best martinis in town. The decor is an ode to the city's royal sport, and the hotel itself is a former hunting lodge of the Maharajah of Jaipur. Arrive before sunset and begin with tea on the verandah while you watch the hotel’s peacocks strutting through the 47-acre gardens. Then head indoors to order the Jaipore Martini-Rambagh Palace - the perfect balance of sweet homemade rose syrup next to a kick of gin.
Wind View Cafe
The masala chai here is as caffeinated as it is sweet - delicious. But most of all, come for the view. From a seat on the terrace you have a breathtaking view of the iconic Hawa Mahal (Wind Palace).
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Hawa Mahal, seen from Wind View Cafe; © Rosanna Falconer.

The Johri, Lal Haveli
Every dinner invitation from my friends seems to be at this hotel in the city's jewellery quarter! A restored 19th century merchant's haveli, its interiors are an ode to the city's signature pink with frescoes of birds flitting between palm trees. The fully vegetarian menu is a delight: I love the dal johri and Amritsari chole with a side of jackfruit and water chestnut vegetable biryani.
Spice Court
This is the best Rajasthani cuisine I've found in the city, first recommended to me by friends who have been going regularly since it opened in 2004. They always go for the baked keema baati with gravy, while I love the dal panchratan. Located in Civil Lines, you will be away from the crowds of the Old City too. Ask for a table in the bougainvillea-lined garden and pick up some caramel brownies from Dzurt next door on your way home.
Half Light Coffee House
Masala chai across the city has a real caffeine kick but sometimes only coffee will do. The espresso here is the best around. They source Indian specialty arabica directly from farmers in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

What to See & Do


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City Palace; © Rosanna Falconer.

City Palace
To really experience this 18th century palace, buy a Royal Splendour ticket, which includes a guided tour of the Chandra Mahal (private quarters). There you'll find the Shobha Niwas (Hall of Beauty) with its walls lavishly embellished with mirrors and real gold leaf. On the floor above, you'll find the Chhavi Niwas (Hall of Images) with its beautifully preserved blue and white frescoes. The Pritam Chowk is an enclosed courtyard with four doorways signifying the seasons of the year. Arrive for opening (9.30am) so that you can see them up close before the crowds and cameras.
Old City Dawn Walk
Begin at the Phool Mandi (flower market) where the air is sweet with the scent of roses and marigolds ready to be strung into garlands or used in rangoli. Across the street is the far more hectic vegetable market - stay out of the way of the (all female!) porters who carry up to 50kg on their heads and have a fast-paced job to do. Ensure you arrive at Govind Dev Ji temple in time for the Aarti ceremony (timings change with the sunrise so ask locally). If you're staying at Samode Haveli the brilliant Sujit Rathore can take you; he is able to showcase the city at its most compelling (and knows the best spots for breakfast street food).
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Left: Phool Mandi. Right: Chhavi Niwas (Hall of Images); © Rosanna Falconer. 

Amber Fort
This fort and its palace rises like a golden mirage 11km outside of the city. Look out (and up!) for the immaculately preserved frescoes on the sandstone of its Ganesh Pol and glittering Sheesh Mahal, which was completed in 1727. It is a tourist hotspot so two tips: arrive for opening (8am) and you will have the place to yourself; the elephants that carry tourists are awe-inspiring but opt for the 10-minute walk up the ramparts instead as their welfare has been called into question by many (the heat, hard surfaces and lack of herd).
Nahargarh Fort
Amber is the fort everyone talks about, but the fresco colors of Nahargarh (pictured, bottom of page) are inspired: pink, sandstone, mushroom and turmeric yellow combine in the Queen's quarters. The panoramic views from the roof are the best in the city. For the energetic, the trio of forts (Amber, Jaigarh and Nahargarh) can all be visited in one hike in a day.

Where to Shop


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Left: Amrapali Jewels. Right: Johari Bazaar; © Rosanna Falconer. 

No visit to Jaipur - famous for its colorful gems - would be complete without visiting The Gem Palace, established in 1872 and now in its 9th generation of the Kasliwal family. Ask to go upstairs to see their personal collection, including the 300-carat rose cut diamond necklace and sapphire poison ring, all kept in a hot pink room designed by Marie-Anne Oudejans.
The archival collection of globally renowned Amrapali Jewels is so esteemed it is now showcased in a five-year established museum, the first and only museum for Indian ethnic jewellery. It's the result of 40 years of meticulous collection from Amrapali's co-founders: Rajiv Arora and Rajesh Ajmera - their legacy to the arts of India. Sister brand Tribe Amrapali’s selection of contemporary jewellery is delectable; I love the cuff earrings.
The Johari Bazaar pulses with energy. Along the colonnaded pavement you'll find gemstones aplenty, but it's through an unassuming doorway that you'll discover the atelier and showroom of Tallin Jewels. Many jewellers have moved out of the Old City, but founder Akshat Ghiya told me his mind "explodes with ideas from being here". His designs are light, comfortable and full of movement, notable for their use of irregular stone cuts, which can only be manipulated by hand. The workshop employs 14 goldsmiths, 4 stone setters, 1 beader and 1 polisher; their dexterity is a marvel.
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Left: IDLI. Right: Rosanna's table, featuring Good Earth wares; © Rosanna Falconer. 

Thierry Journo is an artist in its truest sense: all of the designs at IDLI are by him - from fashion to home - with his fantastical illustrations adorning the walls, cushions and stationery. This year, he's collaborated on a set of table and glassware with iconic Indian brand Good Earth. Head to their store in the grounds of Rajmahal Palace (see 'Where to Stay') to find this painterly collection and all Good Earth designs. Good Earth founder, Anita Lal, wanted to bring the talent of kumbhars (village potters) to a wider audience, and the brand aims to sustain and revive Indian traditions and craftsmanship.
Royale Treasurers, which truly merits its name, is a treasure trove of furniture and art. Hard to find and very much off the tourist trail, it's located in Civil Lines (the neighbourhood of the Chief Minister). Every corner and floor is filled with unique artifacts sourced across India. These are the talking points that will bring delight to your house. On my last visit, I was musing over a daybed in turquoise and pink. By the time I have arranged shipment back to the UK, I am certain it will have been snapped up!

Left: Ghagras at sunrise. Right: The PDKF Store. © Rosanna Falconer.

Clothing & Textiles
The ancient art of block printing has been passed down through generations here in Jaipur; the most famous purveyor of this technique is Anokhi with everything from childrenswear to bedspreads. Stop by their organic cafe next to the store (I recommend the corn fritters and vegan chocolate cake).
The PDKF Store brings a joyful new take on block prints with its pastel-hued separates. Founded by Claire De Roo and Princess Gauravi Kumari, all proceeds go to the aforementioned Princess Diya Kumari Foundation. The women of the foundation make the designs, empowering them and preserving traditional Rajasthani techniques.
If it's colorful saris and lehengas you seek, then head straight to Vasansi Jaipur - a family-owned brand that goes back seven generations. Uniquely, their business covers every element of the garment’s journey in-house, from design to dyeing and embroidery.
Rosanna Falconer is a British brand consultant, co-founder of FashMash and lover of all things colorful. See @rosannafalconer on Instagram to follow her Jaipur journey.


Left: Nahargarh Fort. Right: Samode Palace © Rosanna Falconer. 

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