Jodhpur is undoubtedly at the top of our list when anyone asks us for Northern India travel advice. Just twenty years ago, Jodhpur was considered nothing more than a stop-over while heading to the desert city of Jaisalmer. The city, known as the blue city, now sits proudly at the top of many travelers' bucket lists. The most common activities in the city of Jodhpur are: scout out the blue buildings in the small winding alleyways, take a tour of the impressive Mehrangarh Fort, eat Jodhpur sweets, do some shopping near clock tower, and stay at a heritage Indian property. As we walked down the cobblestone driveway into Ratan Vilas, we knew right away we had found a gem that would help fulfill our experience in Jodhpur.
Generally, one of the keys to having the best experience in a city we visit is to find an accommodation that is close enough to all the attractions but doesn't force us to deal with the hustle and bustle at our doorstep. This is especially the case in India where you may be kept up at night by parades (seriously at 2 AM), honking horns, or locals talking very loudly. Ratan Vilas is located a few minutes outside of town center, but a five minute Uber/tuktuk ride can transport you to one or the other. The front facade of Ratan Vilas is quite impressive with a large pool surrounded by vegetation on the right side, a restaurant on the left, and a garden courtyard in the center.
We found out that the original structure was a family home built in 1920 by Maharaj Ratan Singhji. Today, the property remains in the family and is owned and operated by his grandson. Mr. Singhji was a horseman and polo player. Every December in Jodhpur, there is a large polo tournament which draws people from all over the world who travel to India and experience the event. In 1998, the family's home was converted into a guesthouse.
One evening, we had the opportunity to tour many of the rooms on the property. Each room is designed differently from the last, but they all feature historic artwork hanging on the wall that really help tell the story and history of the heritage property. In addition, the rooms feature detailed tile work floors, Jodhpur textile bedding, and Rajasthani wood furniture.
We realized that the generational history of this property is something we take for granted in western countries. Indians hold their traditions close to their hearts and always ensure they bleed through even in today's modern society. There are few places that you can experience the whimsical history of India on display. At dinner each night, we were served traditional fine Indian cuisine. The gardens and courtyards light up and they invite a musician to place traditional Rajasthani music. The staff was eager to get to know us on a personal level and when the restaurant manager found out we were vegetarian one night at the buffet, he insisted on making a whole separate dish for us. It is this attention to detail that really sets this heritage property apart from a standard (or even luxury) hotel.
We spent many days at the pool -- as we commonly do in Asia. Jodhpur is dry and scorching hot most of the year (112 degrees while we were there), so the pool basically saved our lives. Not kidding!
If you find yourself blazing across the Indian deserts of Rajasthan, we highly recommend a few nights at Ratan Vilas. You'll be taken care of like you're the only guests at the villas and you're bound to enjoy the peace and quiet after a long day exploring Jodhpur.