The Indian hotel that inspired my pink couches
On a trip to Rajasthan, India as a travel editor, I was set to stay for two nights at a newly restored hotel, Sujan Rajmahal Palace Hotel in Jaipur. Known as the ‘pink city’, I was SO excited to be visiting Jaipur in India – it was my first trip to a country that had fascinated me for years.
At this resplendent hotel in the early 1960s, Queen Elizabeth II and Jacqueline Kennedy both rested their heads here, at a time when it was used exclusively as the palace of the Jaipur royal family.
In 2015, Sujan Rajmahal Palace Hotel in Jaipur exuded a retro and regal mix of 1960s glamour – with Palm Springs panache fringing over into Jaipur. As of May 2020, it is no longer part of the Sujan Hotel group, but nonetheless I have fond memories of staying at this incredible hotel and having the opportunity to explore colourful Jaipur.
Creating the scene at the hotel’s entrance, set back from the main road was a parked white Ford Thunderbird with the red number plates ‘Jaipur’. The car was custom-made for the royal family in the 1950s and was only driven by the family. Men in musk pink-coloured turbans open the door, ushered me to the magnificent sitting room and lounge, where fuschia pink and peacock green velvet lounge chairs were surrounded by large and solid silver candle sticks, marble bowls of rose petals and large, gilt-framed artworks.
I was so inspired by the rich and striking colour from this trip and indeed, this incredible hotel, that within a few years, I was so lucky to receive my parent’s original Van Treight 1960s olive green lounge setting that had recovered in hot pink velvet with teal edging, just like the ones I’d seen here in the lobby.
The property was first built in 1821 as the official residence of the British Resident Political Officer of Rajputana. In 1958 His Highness Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II of Jaipur selected the home as his personal private residence.
Being a lover of decorative wallpaper, I was in for a treat – acclaimed Indian interior designer Adil Ahmad has featured no fewer than 37 styles of wallpaper throughout the hotel, with varying themes in the hotel’s 14 rooms that include the Queen Elizabeth II Suite; The Kennedy Suite; and the hotel’s grandest accommodation, the Maharaja Royal Apartment. The wallpaper sample that most captured my heart was the flamingo-pink moghul-themed wallpaper used in the 51 Shades of Pink Dining Room, designed as an homage to a famous Vogue magazine cover photographed by Norman Parkinson in 1952.
Walking throughout the hotel, there are beautiful art works, grand marble staircases, curved walkways with surprises at every turn, including a marble Collard & Collard grand piano. I enjoyed a dip in the hotel’s pool – afterwards showering under fresh hot water with clean towels underneath the pink turret where pigeons gathered. For the ultimate pre-dinner drink, my fellow travel companions and I settled into the aqua upholstered chairs beneath the chandelier in the Polo Bar and choose from the extensive cocktail list.
Afternoon tea on the green lawns with lily ponds and vintage wrought iron table settings with plush, pink velvet cushions was a highlight: or enjoy the lawns from the overlooking The Colonnade verandah, flanked with columns and decorated with teal-coloured equestrian-themed wallpaper as a nod to the strong polo culture in Jaipur.
I stayed in the Madho Niwas I Palace Room which had a decadent, full-marble bathroom and amenities fragrant with Indian spice. I requested tea one morning to my room which arrived on a silver tray with a delicious selection of biscuits.
The hotel is conveniently located to some of Jaipur’s best sites, including the nearby fascinating City Palace and old-town market.