Revisiting Orchha, a charming medieval town in India’s Madhya Pradesh state, after a gap of 20 years, was an eye-opener.  From a sleepy one-street little village where we could only find aloo parathas to eat for lunch and no where to stay for the night, Orchha now boasts internet cafés, signs in a multitude of foreign languages, and restaurants serving espressos and pizzas.


Where good and tangible progress has been made is in the range of accommodation now available, and it was with great pleasure that we stayed at the charming, beautifully located Bundelkhand Riverside, a short walk along the main road out of the village.

Built by the Maharajah of Orchha on land that was originally part of his hunting lodge, the hotel is prettily situated on the banks of the Betwa river. There are 27 air-conditioned rooms, many of which have small balconies overlooking the river.  A small but perfectly adequate swimming pool centred around an ancient chattri (memorial).  Good food, served on the lawn amidst spectacularly lush gardens.  Pretty little sit-outs, under ingenious tents made out of old parachutes. Amazing views from the roof terrace. Delightfully friendly and attentive service.

What is not to like in this unpretentious but very welcoming hotel ?

The entrance, above, and the pool below.

Parachutes doubling up as a shady tent.



Rates are currently as below :

Contact details as below :

Personally recommended.

We stayed anonymously at the hotel, and paid our bills (just in case you were wondering).

Narain Niwas Palace Hotel, Jaipur

In a state seemingly awash with heritage hotels and palaces, this centrally located hotel in Jaipur, in India’s Rajasthan state, ticks all the right boxes.  Approached through noisy congested streets in the city centre,  and located opposite a nondescript modern shopping complex, one’s heart initially sinks at the approach.  But the second you turn into the huge walled entrance to the Narain Niwas Palace Hotel, spirits lift again.  The noise from the street recedes, blocked by acres of garden and lawns, and all you hear is the splash of water from the fountain, and bird-song.

The hotel is a succession of  gardens and courtyards, with little staircases leading up and down to rooms and yet more rooms, and balconies and terraces.  No boring corridors with repetitive rooms here, thank goodness.

Our room was charming –  all shades of green and blue, and giving onto a beautiful large terrace, shared with a few other rooms.

The pretty little restaurant had friendly service, and when I told the waiters I wanted to try typical local Rajasthani cuisine, the cook came out for a chat, pleased at my interest.

The grounds were lovely, in a slightly charming, neglected way, with lawns and pavilions, and a pool scattered all over the large compound.

Service was friendly and relaxed.

Room rates, which include breakfast, are :

Standard Rs 4000 single/Rs 5500 double

Deluxe double Rs 7100

Kanota Suite Rs 8100

Garden suite Rs 12000

The charge for an extra person is Rs 2000


Narain Niwas Palace Hotel

Kanota Bagh

Narain Singh Road

Jaipur 302 004

Tel : +91 141 256 1291/256 3448





Bharat Mahal Palace, Jaipur

Although seemingly every hotel in India’s Rajasthan state is either a palace or a self-proclaimed heritage property, to describe the Bharat Mahal Palace as a “royal residence” (as their own brochure does) or a heritage hotel (as the sign in the garden does) is an exaggeration.  This poorly maintained, decidedly grubby hotel is nothing more than a large house overlooking the railway lines, and when we stayed there in January 2011, building work was in full swing.

Although the individual members of staff couldn’t have been sweeter and more obliging, goodness knows where management with a capital M was.  On checking in, our room was not ready, which meant that we were able to supervise the re-cleaning of the otherwise dirty bathroom, and get the unironed, stained sheets taken off one of the beds.

As I said, the staff couldn’t have been sweeter, which is just as well, since we asked them to change the coffee table, the glass top of which was smashed, with a gaping hole in it.  We also asked them to separate the beds, bring a bedside table, and finally bring a bedside light, all of which was cheerfully done.  The bedside light ended up working for one day, and then that was it, but we never managed to get it fixed.

There was, however, nothing the staff could do about the room’s light switches all being in the corridor outside our room.

This meant that the options early in the morning were, either crashing around in the dark or switching every single light in the room on, since we never figured out how to turn just one light on at a time.  All or nothing was the choice.

What else ?  Ridiculously small geyser, which meant 2 people couldn’t have consecutive bucket baths.  And the bucket baths were because the shower head was too clogged to give anything than the thinnest trickle of water.

The whole place was unkempt, and way beyond room-service trays left lying around in the corridors for hours : the litter left on the tiny front lawn after a wedding one night, stayed there for the remaining 2 nights of our stay.

In all fairness, the noisy location cannot be blamed on the owner of the “royal residence”, but it isn’t a nice one for all that.  Railway tracks, a level crossing and a public urinal are pretty soul-destroying.

The food was acceptable : regular buffet breakfast, and the 2 quick lunches we had there were, once again, acceptable.

The only good thing about the Bharat Mahal Palace ?  The sweet staff.

Address :

16 Parivahan Marg, near Civil Lines, “C” Scheme, Jaipur 302001

Phone : 0141-2365498, 2362627


Tariff as per the hotel’s own brochure (which had the old prices crossed out and new ones written in )

Deluxe Room Rs 2700 single/Rs 3000 double

Suite Rs 3800 single/Rs 4000 double

Taxes are extra

Parking in the street outside – the driveway is tiny and taken up by an old red vintage car.