The Oberoi Vanyavilas
Ranthambhore Road, Sawai Madhopur, India
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Vanyavilas is an adventure resort, yes, and technically its 25 luxurious suites are tents, but you won't be roughing it here; these tents are as regally appointed as many hotels' penthouse suites.
The tigers are the stars here — the property is located at the edge of Ranthambhore National Park, founded some forty years ago to protect (and showcase) the animals. The park's founder, Fateh Singh, visits nightly to lecture on the park's ecology and to talk about the day's sightings, and he should know — the tract of land where Vanyavilas sits was once his personal property.
This is, we suppose, camping, though on a scale unlike what we remember from childhood outings. The air-conditioned suites are enormous, 790 square feet beneath a vast canvas roof, and walled-in, resulting in an extraordinary degree of privacy. Teak floors and furniture straight out of British Colonial times round out the look, and the bathrooms are particularly over-the-top — as spacious as most city hotel suites, with a lone claw-foot tub in the center of the space.
The public spaces, including the impressive library bar, are in a central building decorated in the style of a royal hunting lodge. Here it is even more difficult to believe you are at the edge of a national forest, surrounded by frescoes and murals depicting the local wildlife. The food is excellent, served in the restaurant or in the courtyard, and while there is officially no room service, the standard of hospitality here is such that the staff will gladly serve your meal anywhere you desire.
As though all that were not enough, there is a heated outdoor pool and a spa to rival any in India. A tenth-century fort overlooks the grounds, and is a perfect destination for a hike, though most guests' minds will be on the tigers; sightings are frequent, and jeep safaris can be arranged (plan at least 60 days ahead). And do take advantage of Mr Singh's visits — it's a bit like getting to talk fish with Jacques Cousteau.
How to get there:
Vanyavilas is located in Sawai Madhopur. Rail lines run from Jaipur to Sawai Madhopur in approximately 2 1/2 hours and from Delhi in 5 hours. Vanyavilas is approximately 3 1/2 hours from Jaipur by car.
- 25 Rooms
- Style: Contemporary Classic
- Atmosphere: Secluded
- The Oberoi Vanyavilas
- Ranthambhore Road
- Sawai Madhopur, India
Hotel amenities and services
- 24 hour concierge
- 24 hour gym
- Free wi-fi
- Outdoor swimming pool