Situated at a 3 hours drive from the capital of India, New Delhi, Neemrana Fort Palace (Situated in the State of Rajasthan) is amongst the ever growing number of forts/heritage properties being converted into hotels. The drive from Delhi is a pleasant one. The road all the way through is in excellent condition. The only somewhat tricky part is when you have to go through the village at the foothill of the fort and then drive up. Nothing too dangerous or undoable.
Situated on a hill, the fort provides excellent views of the village and nearby town. We happened to visit towards the beginning of the monsoon season, so the trees where all bursting with bright green leaves. I have been told that the surrounding areas do look barren during the non-rainy summer months, but the hotel definitely makes up for it.
The Hotel itself has a number of options for rooms (up to 150 guests) and comprises of an open air swimming pool (decent size), a restaurant (afternoon and evening buffet service), and a Spa. Since there is nothing much to eat in the surrounding area, you are somewhat compelled to eat in the hotel restaurant. The food is a good enough mixture of local Rajasthani food with some typical North Indian and continental choices. Visiting with my wife, my almost 1 year old daughter, and my brother-in-law, we all found the food and service to be satisfactory.
The Neemrana Fort, due to its proximity to the city of Jaipur, attracts a number of day trippers. The pool is only available to the hotel guests, so the only place where you might see a rush around the afternoon is the restaurant. All "outsiders" have to leave by 5:30PM and to be honest I didn't find having a few extra people roaming around the fort during the day to intrusive or bothering. I can understand if some people might but maybe we were lucky to have only a few day trippers during our stay.
The fort, like any other fort, is seeping with history and if antiques fascinate you (like they do me), then you are sure to find a lot that will interest you on the property. The fort, built in 1464, was one of the few properties that refused to adhere to the British Rule. Eventually it was taken by the British and distributed amongst the nearby states that did follow them. Ever since it had been in a state of degradation as the owners tried to sell it. It was only in 1986 when the fort was acquired for restoration and what stands now is just a magnificent symbol of the hard work and money that must have gone into painstakingly restoring the property. I am informed that the property has gone further changes since my visit almost 2 years back, so apparently there is always some change happening with keeping the basic esthetics and history in place.
Our room, Surya Mahal (Palace of the Sun) was quite grand and we could have easily fitted another 2-3 people in it. Unfortunately, the room was at the base of the fort, so we had to climb up a little every time we wanted to use the amenities. Normally, this would not have bothered me, but having a lap bound child and somewhat slippery path (due to the rain) was not the best. Nevertheless, we managed without any major falls. (Note: A stroller is not of much help as with stairs and cobbled paths you really will not be able to use it).
The swimming pool is quite a focal point and most guests can be found in or around it late afternoons. Once again because of its location the views from the pool are extraordinary. The spa situated just below the swimming pool provides an extensive array of treatments. The prices of the treatments are not cheap, but they are also not as expensive as some of the other hotels I have stayed in. All the three adults had a go at one treatment or another and each one of us was satisfied with the service, the treatment, and the overall experience.
So what exactly can you do once you are there? To start with it, Neemrana is a great place to "get away from it all". Read a book, lounge by the pool, explore the fort, get a spa treatment, or just appreciate the views. For the slightly adventurous I am told "Zipping" can be arranged and you can always go trekking around the fort or nearby (Both activities were not possible because of the rain). The Fort Palace is also popular as a venue for Weddings, Birthdays, and other Private Events. We were lucky not have anything go on during our visit, but it would be a good idea to check before you book, unless you want to witness an Indian wedding at the cost of missing out on a nights sleep.
So our weekend trip for one night in a Double Suite cost us approximately Rs. 20,000/- (Euro 325,-) for three adults plus one toddler. This price includes the hotel stay, food and drinks(Three meals for three) and the spa treatments (Three). But considering that we could have easily invited a couple more people who would have stayed with us in our massive room, the price is extremely competitive.
Neemrana is a place where you go with friends and the more the merrier. A one night or maximum two night stay is good enough and is a nice little break if you are visiting either New Delhi or Jaipur. The overall service is good and the rooms and amenities are more than satisfactory. Highly recommended for anyone visiting India or even as a weekend break for a local.