Reuben had heard of Neemrana Fort Palace years ago, when friends of his had recommended it to him as a beautiful place to visit. It’s a former fort which has been turned into a “non-hotel” hotel. We hadn’t been able to fit in a visit on our honeymoon, so we decided to see if we could do it this time. One concern that we had was how Neemrana would fit into our travellers’ budget – we had been staying with friends or paying between $10 and $30 NZD a night for accommodation, and Neemrana was significantly more than that. We also weren’t quite sure how we were going to get there, as Neemrana is located in between Delhi and Jaipur, and everything we had read online suggested that the only way to get there was by taking a taxi from Delhi for about 4000 rupees ($100 NZD). Breakfast and afternoon tea were included, but lunch and dinner were around 1000 rupees per person per meal – considering we often ate for well less than 200 rupees, this was way out of our budget.
So, how did we make the decision to visit? Well, we decided to stay for only two nights, and to take one of the cheaper rooms (after lots of scouting online we managed to work out that the Hari Vilas room had its own balcony – sounded good to us!) We were lucky in that they had a 20% discount on offer when we wanted to visit, and we decided to eat lots at breakfast and afternoon tea and take our own food and drinks for all other meals (luckily each room has its own little fridge which we used to store food in). The hotel is also next to what in India is called a village and what in New Zealand would be called a small town – we brought all our food from Delhi but it would have been totally possible to buy supplies in the “village”. We travelled by public bus (i.e not airconditioned Volvo) as the public bus will usually stop anywhere you ask, and jumped out at the side of the road. Here we walked under the motorway and then had the option of taking a private auto rickshaw up the main road for 100 rupees ($2 NZD) or a shared one for 5 rupees each. (On the way back we walked this and it took about half an hour). Once the shared auto dropped us off, we walked the 10 minutes uphill to the fort and checked in – we spent about 200 rupees getting there rather than the 4000 that we would have spent to go by taxi!
So apart from being possible financially, how was the fort to stay in? Well, we loved it. We spent time relaxing by the two beautiful swimming pools, we took the fascinating audio visual tour throughout the original part of the fort, we watched a thunderstorm that turned into a stunning sunset, we ate way too much at breakfast, we napped and we explored the theatre, the hanging garden, the room of the swings and all of the little nooks and crannies that make this such a fun and beautiful place to stay. We would absolutely go back and would try to time it so that we could be there midweek again – the place was so quiet and peaceful which was wonderful.