I love a good hotel – I stay, I lay, I unpack and I snap. This one’s a bloody great one too so read on…
The hotel Bhairon Vilas looks, to the untrained eye, like a palace, elegant yet totally homely, the ancient residence is crafted from the red sandstone native to the town of Bikaner in the north of India. It’s literally the most beautiful hotel I have ever stayed in… period.
The owner Harsh is one cool character, an Indian man in his early forties, he rocks (with aplomb I might add) a handlebar mustache., salt and pepper ponytail, a serious amount of silver bling and an old English tweed smoking jacket. He looks like a cross between a pirate and a Bollywood heartthrob.
I met Harsh holding court in his bar, which looks like a 19th century Opium den – the dark walls lined with all manner of curiosities (many of them family heirlooms) – and he told me that the hotel is his ancestral family home, built by his great grandfather. Lucky him!
Over some really very good Indian wine, he told me how he designed the hotel all by himself, decorating it with trinkets from his extensive travels and his families furniture and hand-me-downs – the effect is stunning. He should totally be an interior designer.
My room was fit for a princess in pistachio green, hand-painted with gold gilt flowers – and overlooking the sprawling gardens. I did check out some other rooms though, they’re all different and unique, and some of them were jaw-droppingly gorgeous.
Although the hotel is located in a small historic Indian town it definitely competes with any Western boutique hotel – in the bar were a cool, black American girl and a dashingly handsome Parisian (from Bushwick and Pigalle respectively) – if that’s no a measure of ‘hipness’ I don’t know what is. Add to that good food, roof terraces, an outdoor pool and air that smells of incense and intrigue and you have one hell of a hotel!
I’d travel back to Bikaner for this hotel alone, it was an experience that I’d like to repeat.
* A standard room is roughly £27. Breakfast and dinner for £3.50