Review of Amanbagh (Rajasthan, India)

Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel or flight review.

I recently traveled to India & Bhutan. You can read my trip reports here


Today (September 18, 2019): Review of Amanbagh (Rajasthan, India).

Once used by the Maharajah of Alwar as his base for tiger-hunting expeditions, today Amanbagh’s lush compound shelters guests in a modern-day Mughal palace, carved out of local pink marble and sandstone, with scalloped arches and cupolas paying homage to India’s golden age. A sanctuary in the arid Aravalli hills, 90 minutes from frenetic Jaipur, the property is surrounded by mature palm, fruit and eucalyptus trees, which shade the emerald-green pool. Beyond the palatial Suites, spa and gardens, guests will discover welcoming villages, majestic forts and ruins, and the jungle of Sariska National Park, where tigers still roam free.

Amanbagh features in my top 10 lists of India’s best luxury hotels.

Have you ever stayed at Amanbagh? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment.

In this review (more info and photos below my Youtube clip & slideshow):


PROS & THINGS I LIKE
  • Amanbagh is located in a remote valley at the foot of the Aravalli hills in rural Rajasthan. The property is set in a tranquil oasis of lush greenery that is not only in stark contrast to the arid plains and craggy hills which surround it, but also to the hustle and bustle of India’s chaotic and dusty cities. Amanbagh is a two-hour drive from Jaipur, a three -hour drive from its sister property Aman-i-Khas, and a four hour drive from the Taj Mahal. As you approach the resort, it feels like you are traveling back in time, with medieval fortresses dotting the rugged hills, women veiled in brightly colored saris working the fields, and water buffalos wallowing in muddy pools.
  • Amanbagh’s exceptional architecture is the work of renowned architect Ed Tuttle, who is also the mastermind behind other Aman properties, such as the Greek sanctuary of Amanzoe. In Amanbagh, Tuttle achieved a near-impossible balance between the minimalist modernity of an Aman resort and the opulent grandeur of a historic Mughal palace. The hotel has been carved out of local sandstone and pink marble, with grand domes, scalloped arches, and intimate courtyards nodding to India’s golden age. Towering palm and eucalyptus trees are incorporated in the building, adding to the sense that this property has been here for many years although it is fairly new (Amanbagh opened in 2005).
  • Derived from the Sanskrit word for ‘peace’ (aman) and the hindi word for ‘garden’ (bagh), Amanbagh features the layout of a walled palace shaded by mature palm, fruit and eucalyptus trees. Entrance is via an expansive lawn that leads to the elegant lobby pavilion, where guests are gracefully welcomed by the resort staff with a refreshing drink, cold towel, and an ancient Sanskrit prayer song. The lobby pavilions also houses the main restaurant on one side, a chic bar on the other, and a majestic staircase leading to a library with rooftop terrace on the upper floor (more on that below). The lobby pavilion’s backside opens to a large courtyard, which houses the pool area and which is flanked on three sides by galleries, well-maintained lawns, and the rooms.
  • Laid out across two stories, Amanbagh’s suites and pavilions come in four categories and all enjoy an aesthetic that references the property’s regal past. During my visit, I stayed in a Garden Haveli Suite, located on the ground floor near the pool, with a terrace looking out over of the walled garden. A vaulted entrance, domed ceiling and scalloped windows provided the framework for the suite’s delicate interior, which was decorated with intricate lattice screens and pink Udaipur marble. The bedroom featured a sitting area furnished with daybeds, a kingsize bed raised on plinths, and a writing desk surrounded by majestic Mughal arches. The bathroom was clad in green marble and featured his and her sinks, a bathtub, and a shower cabin.
  • One of Amanbagh’s most impressive features is its central 33 m (108 ft) swimming pool, which is surrounded by comfortable sun loungers. The main pavilion’s pinkish facade permanently reflects on the pool’s flat surface, which creates some great photo opportunities. Drinks and snacks are available poolside throughout the day. There is another 12 m (40 ft) wading pool just behind the main pool for the little ones, which guarantees a quiet and peaceful ambiance at the main swimming pool. Both pools are laid out in verdant emerald colored tiles, which is a reference to the area’s precious gemstone fascination. The main pool and wading pool are separated by a set of pavilions, which house the spa and gym (more on that below).
  • As one of India’s leading spa resorts, Amanbagh has wellness in its DNA. It’s lovely spa facility is located in a domed pavilion halfway the pool area. Highly skilled therapists offer a range of therapies, from facials and massages to henna art and Ayurveda. The resort even offers wellness immersions of up to 21 nights, providing a personalized program of Ayurvedic healing, comprising diet, movement and meditation drawing on millennia of history. The hotel also offers daily complimentary yoga and meditation sessions expertly delivered by an in-house Ayurvedic doctor and yoga practitioner; these sessions can be practiced within Amanbagh’s grounds or at scenic spots in the countryside.
  • Amabagh serves delicious food, with a choice of signature Indian dishes and Western cuisine, all of which can be tailored to suit individual tastes. Freshly picked ingredients from the resort’s organic kitchen garden are used to prepare the dishes. There’s only one restaurant, open for (the à la carte) breakfast, lunch and dinner. This dining room features a grand setting, with soaring ceilings and colonnades, overlooking the tree-shaded pool. Opposite the restaurant is a bar, a convivial and relaxing space where light snacks and drinks are served. Although there’s only one restaurant, Amanbagh also offers other dining experiences, such as the not-to-be-missed romantic dinner on the library’s rooftop terrace.
  • Amanbagh is a self-contained world of elegant luxury, representing everything that its mother brand Aman tries to achieve: tranquility, exclusivity, and a sense of place. Aman is the world’s most exclusive hotel brand and the company manages a fabulous collection of intimate properties across the globe. The brand is known for the understated elegance of its resorts, exquisite attention to detail, minimalist design, heartfelt service, and otherworldly locations.
  • Among Aman’s habitués is a group of passionate repeat customers who call themselves ‘Aman junkies’ (count me in) and whose travel plans are determined by Aman locations. It’s a misconception that Aman junkies are always incredibly wealthy people: I prefer to spend my money on two nights at an Aman resort than two weeks at any other resort, as you pay for a unique and life-long memory. In all honesty and without exaggeration, an Aman resort makes some Four Seasons or Ritz-Carlton resorts look like a mediocre Holiday Inn hotel.
  • The staff at Amanbagh provides impeccable service. From the receptionists who welcome you upon arrival with a prayer song to the guides that accompany you on excursions, everybody at the resort seems to genuinely care about making your Rajasthan holiday a unique experience. It feels like nothing is too much to ask. Aman resorts are famous for their unmatched service levels. To give you a few examples: rooms are refreshed several times per day (but you’ll never see someone from housekeeping), you’ll never be asked for your room number or name (Aman knows its guests), and general managers are very present at the resort (and mostly there to welcome you and say goodbye).
  • The hotel offers a plethora of activities in the surrounding area. One of Amanbagh’s most popular activities, the cow dust tour involves a jeep ride into the local village in the afternoon, when cows, goats, sheep and buffalo are being herded home, or at sunrise to the scent of cooking fires being lit as the village comes to life. Legendary Bhangarh is also within easy reach: a town built in the 16th century, then swiftly abandoned after being cursed by  court magician. Further afield, day trips can be arranged to the temples of Virit Nagar, or to Agra and the Taj Mahal, stopping at the famous Abhaneri step well en route. There is also mountain biking, sightseeing and walking tours with picnic lunches.
  • While a stay at Amanbagh doesn’t come cheap, it won’t cost you a fortune as this is one of the least expensive Aman hotels (entry rates around $500 USD per night in low season). So if you want to live the exceptional Aman experience ‘on a budget’, this may be the place to do so.
  • A stay at Amanbagh can be easily combined with a stay at its sister property, Aman-i-Khas (which I reviewed here). Both properties offer a totally different and complimentary experience on an India itinerary. While Amanbagh offers a refined resort experience in a lush oasis in a rural Rajasthan valley, Aman-i-Khas is a tented camp from where to explore the wilderness and tigers of nearby Ranthambore National Park.

CONS & THINGS TO KNOW

Located in the heart of Rajasthan and managed by one of the world’s most exclusive hotel brands, there’s litle to say against Amanbagh. The property offers exquisite food, exceptional architecture, flawless service, and a wide range of onsite and offsite activities. Yet, there are some things you need to know before considering a stay here.

  • As is so often the case with Aman resorts, Amanbagh’s location is deliberately remote. Its quiet location off the beaten track is one Amanbagh’s major draws as guests come here to escape daily life and to enjoy peacefulness of the surroundings. Getting there will require a long journey by car, around 2 hours from Jaipur, four hours from Agra (home to the Taj Mahal), and five hours from New Delihi. The rood conditions are good though for most of the journey, except for the bumpy dirt road in the last few miles. If you want to splash out, you can also book a helicopter transfer as the property has its own heliport.
  • Amanbagh is an older resort (it opened in 2005), and while the public areas are timeless and exceptionally well maintained, there’s no denying that the room decor feels slightly dated in certain areas and could use a refurbishment (the mix of pink and green marble in the rooms will be loved by some, but disliked by others). Also, the spa infrastructure is rather basic by 2019 standards (no hammam or hot tub, for example).
  • The fresh fruit offered as a welcome amenity in the room upon arrival is totally underwhelming for a resort of this caliber. Filled with just one apple and one orange, it maybe better to offer no fruit bowl at all since it looks rather cheap.

MY VERDICT
  • Location: 8/10
  • Design: 9/10
  • Pool: 9/10
  • Rooms: 8/10
  • Food: 9/10
  • Breakfast: 9/10
  • Spa: 9/10
  • Service: 9/10
  • Value for money: 9/10
  • Overall experience: very good 8,6/10

TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
  • Save money: get complimentary VIP perks at Amanbagh when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, WiFi, and one a la carte lunch for 2 persons).
  • Save money: read my tips for getting the best deal at an Aman hotel (and/or receive many free perks).
  • Room tip: for the ultimate luxury experience, book a pool pavilion, which offers a spacious garden courtyard and a private 9 x 3 m (29 x 10 ft) swimming pool which is heated during the winter months.
  • Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

The best time to visit Amanbagh is between October and March, when the weather is warm, sunny, and dry. Increasing temperatures in April and May can result in excellent value trips, but you can expect high humidity and thunderstorms. The monsoon season starts from July and extends till September and is best avoided.


HOW TO GET THERE

Amanbagh is a two-hour drive from Jaipur, a three -hour drive from its sister property Aman-i-Khas, a four hour drive from the Taj Mahal, and a five hour drive from New Delhi. Transfers can be arranged via the resort.


PHOTOS

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AMANBAGH: GARDEN & RESORT GROUNDS
AMANBAGH: GARDEN & RESORT GROUNDS
AMANBAGH: GARDEN & RESORT GROUNDS
AMANBAGH: GARDEN & RESORT GROUNDS
AMANBAGH: GARDEN & RESORT GROUNDS
AMANBAGH: GARDEN & RESORT GROUNDS
AMANBAGH: GARDEN & RESORT GROUNDS
AMANBAGH: GARDEN & RESORT GROUNDS
AMANBAGH: GARDEN & RESORT GROUNDS
AMANBAGH: GARDEN & RESORT GROUNDS
AMANBAGH: GARDEN & RESORT GROUNDS
AMANBAGH: GARDEN & RESORT GROUNDS
AMANBAGH: GARDEN & RESORT GROUNDS
AMANBAGH: GARDEN & RESORT GROUNDS
AMANBAGH: GARDEN & RESORT GROUNDS
AMANBAGH: GARDEN & RESORT GROUNDS

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The post Review of Amanbagh (Rajasthan, India) appeared first on the Luxury Travel Expert.

Source: The Luxury Travel Expert
Review of Amanbagh (Rajasthan, India)

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