There are many perks to living and working in the Gulf, but there are also a number of dilemmas you’ll face on a regular basis: Which bottomless brunch serves the best smoked salmon and avocado toast; Which hotel pool to relax by on a lazy Friday after a hard week at work; and finally, our favourite, where to spend those long public holidays.
We recommend Savista Retreat, Jaipur
Savista Retreat is an eco-friendly boutique hotel on the outskirts of Jaipur, perfect for those who want to explore the city but who also want to be able to escape the chaos and relax. Just an hour’s drive from the city centre, it offers the perfect balance of countryside retreat and city break.
What sets Savista apart from other hotels in Rajasthan is that it is not just a hotel but a passion project, founded on the vision and ideals of sustainability, oneness with nature and giving back to the local community. The retreat is owned by a delightful retired couple called Bhanwar and Radhika, who worked for years in the development sector in Mumbai and the UK. After retiring, they moved back to Bhanwar’s ancestral home in Rajasthan and, with the help of local masons, slowly created and renovated what is now Savista Retreat.
Bhanwar and Radhika try not to use any chemicals in the maintenance of Savista and every detail of the retreat fits perfectly into their eco-friendly vision, from the delicious home-grown food they serve to the natural well water that fills the swimming pool. They have invested heavily in their staff, who are well cared for, trained and encouraged to be autonomous, and they are known in the local community for their belief in supporting women and girls.
The property itself is modelled like a Moroccan riad, with rooms and balconies surrounding a large swimming pool in the centre. The building is all white, which contrasts with the dark woods and bright pinks and oranges that decorate its interior. Unlike the clash of colour and noise that famously prevails in India, Savista’s interiors are beautifully minimalist, with just a splash of colour here and there or an old bookcase or golden shisha pipe adding life and character to an otherwise quiet room.
The bookshelves hold a fascinating selection of volumes reflecting Bhanwar and Radhika’s own interests, which include travel, history, interior design, the environment and water security. I could have spent hours flicking through their selection – something the property itself makes very easy, with a number of sofas and day beds tucked away in the house and its grounds that are perfect for a solitary afternoon spent reading. There are also a number of smaller communal spaces perfect for group retreats, like small tables for playing cards over a bottle of Indian wine and an area with a projector for watching films.
Each individual room at Savista is named after either a tree, a bird, a colour or a flower, and the décor inside each is inspired by its namesake. Some of the rooms have private terraces and all have both garden and pool views. They are reached via balconies, little white passageways and hidden staircases. Solar panels serve about half of the rooms in the property.
But the best of Savista Retreat is undeniably outdoors. The roof terrace, with a view of the clear blue pool and the surrounding countryside, makes for the perfect place for sundowners. The grounds extend for about a kilometre, within which are tennis courts, large lawns, and the beginnings of a new forest. You can enjoy an outdoor massage and an open-air shower to relax after taking a bike ride in the grounds and surrounding countryside. With flowers everywhere you look and 80 variety of birds flying about the grounds, at Savista you feel as if you are really connecting with nature.
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