With its maharajas’ palaces, dazzling sari fabrics and swathes of russet-red desert, Rajasthan and its hubs of Jaipur, Jodhpur and tiger-toting Ranthambore National Park is the stuff of fairy tales. Boutique travel experts Mr & Mrs Smith tip four family-friendly stays in this ravishing wilderness. All that’s left for you to do is fly into New Delhi, then plot a course across the countryside. Giddy up!
Style Achingly hip haveli
Setting Shadow of Mehrangarh
Set in Jodhpur’s old walled city, in the shadow of majestic Mehrangarh Fort, Raas boutique hotel brings an 18th-century haveli (maharaja’s mansion) bang up to date, with sleek suites, a Mediterranean-style pool and smart alfresco dining.
Sleeping The ground-floor Garden Rooms open onto private grassy courtyards, making them pick of the bunch for Smiths travelling en masse. Baby cots can be added for free, and extra beds for under 12s cost INR2,300.
Activities Hotel staff will happily arrange treasure hunts, cooking classes, flower decoration sessions and music lessons. Beyond the hotel, the markets will dazzle and Mehrangarh Fort’s Flying Fox lets juniors channel their inner Batman. There’s also a cool pool with inflatables and a lifeguard.
Feasting Children can pull up a pew at both Raas’s restaurants, where special menus and high chairs are provided. Pizzas, salads and noodles are sure to please young appetites. You can also ask the kitchen to prepare packed lunches, or heat up baby food and milk.
Sassy savings Get a host of extras when you book the three-night Raas Experience, including a bottle of sparkling wine, a dinner for two and a tuk tuk tour of the Old City.
Aman-i-Khás, Ranthambore National Park
Style Wild at heart
Setting Tiger territory
Perched on the edge of prime tiger-spotting territory in Ranthambore National Park, Aman-i-Khás boutique hotel in Rajasthan takes the lavish history of maharajas’ hunting parties to new heights, with 10 luxe tents, butler service and the chance to spot a Bengal beast in its natural habitat. Go on, take a walk on the wild side…
Sleeping With soaring six-metre-high canopies, sunken marble bath tubs and custom-made teak furniture, these tents are seriously grand. Cots are available free of charge for infants. Kids aged 12 years and under are US$25 a night (plus taxes), including all meals. Over 12s are US$100 a night, plus taxes.
Activities If the kids tire of safari sessions, there’s a swimming pool, croquet lawn and games of cricket to be played. The Spa offers Mehendi (henna art) and children can also learn to design their own hand-block print fabric. Beyond the camp, camel-cart rides, visits to Ranthambhore Fort and trips to the Old City beckon.
Feasting A children’s menu and high chairs are available in the candlelit dining tent. Packed lunches can be rustled up and the kitchen can heat baby food and milk.
Sassy savings Book through Smith to score a camel safari for two, including sunset drinks.
Samode Palace, Jaipur
Style All that glitters
Setting Fairytale desert fort
A 300-year-old maharaja’s mansion is the surreal setting for Samode Palace near Jaipur, in the heart of Rajasthan. Home to mirror-tiled halls and mural-lined walls, marble swimming pools and regal, antique-filled suites, this walled desert wonderland is the stuff of legend.
Sleeping Baby cots (free) and extra beds (INR3,500 a night) can be added to all rooms – book a Deluxe Suite or Royal Suite for extra space. Avoid rooms on the first floor if you’re travelling with toddlers, as the balcony railings are very low.
Activities Camel safaris, village tours and Jeep rides can all be rustled up. The main swimming pool has a shallow end for safe splashing, and a shaded Jacuzzi. At sister property Samode Bagh, four kilometres away, there’s a swag of activities for kids, including cricket, croquet, table tennis and billiards, as well as acres of gardens for children to let off steam.
Feasting Kids are welcome in all three of the hotel’s restaurants, though the all-day buffet and casual café would be our pick for relaxed family meals. A children’s menu and high chairs are on offer, and staff can heat up baby food or milk upon request.
Sassy savings Smith bookings score an escorted tour of Samode village, plus high tea in the gardens at Samode Bagh.
Mihir Garh, Jodhpur
Style Castle made of sand
Setting Thar desert dune
Picture a sandcastle on the grandest scale and you’re half way to imagining Mihir Garh boutique retreat in Jodhpur’s rugged Thar desert. Meaning ‘Fort of the Sun’, Mihir Garh dazzles with its lavish suites, private plunge pools and pinch-me-quick wildlife encounters that will amaze kids and adults alike.
Sleeping The two-bedroom Mihir Suite is the pick for families, featuring a king-size bed and two twins, along with a private courtyard, sun-deck and plunge pool. Baby cots and beds for under fives are free.
Activities Animal-spotting tops the list of things to do, whether it’s scoping gazelles from the private terrace or spying blackbuck deer from the back of an open-topped jeep. Camel rides and village visits will also appeal to junior Smiths. The pristine pool has a shallow ledge, inflatables and lifeguards from 6am to 6pm to ensure safe splashing.
Feasting The restaurant is a family-friendly zone at all times, with high chairs, a children’s menu and a kitchen team that’s only too happy to prepare packed lunches or heat up baby food and milk. Along with classic Rajasthani curries, global flavours such as chicken pies and chocolate puddings will hit the spot.
Sassy savings Book through Smith and you’ll receive a bottle of champagne and a 15-minute massage on arrival. For stays of three nights or more, you’ll also receive a three-hour camel safari.
To book a child-friendly Smith stay visit www.mrandmrssmith.com or call the expert Travel Team on 800 905 326. What’s more, BlackSmith membership is now free for life, so book through Smith to receive life-enhancing extras and exclusive offers at more than 900 hotels and holiday houses around the world.