Welcome to Hotel Jaipur, the city of pink palaces which has opened its homes to the footloose itinerant.
Forty private residences have turned into mini-hospitality centres offering graded boarding and lodging facilities on the lines of the star hotels in the city, inspired by 11 homestays running in Jungpura and Defence Colony in Delhi.
Promoted by the Hotel Clarks-Amer, the Jaipur Pride, with its 51-odd properties, is the first branded, standardised homestay in the country.
The entire city is chipping in. Bureaucrats, doctors, the local royalty, professionals, activists, artists and socialites have gathered to give the tourists a feel of homely Rajasthan by making them comfortable in their guestrooms and on the dining table.
The facilities are standardised, set to guidelines laid down by the Clarks and the rooms and menu are graded into ‘A’ or the base rooms, ‘B’ or the standard rooms and ‘C’ the luxury rooms according to their prices.
“The idea is to sell India through its people and create more affordable tourism infrastructure with additional inventories in an age when hotel tariffs are so steep. Each home has been carefully profiled and evaluated to ensure maximum comfort,” says Apurv Kumar, executive director, Clarks-Amer, the man behind the project.
The rooms and baths come with personalised services like traditional breakfasts, meals with the household, cook-ins and informal chat sessions with the hosts. The retro rooms are an extension of the households, but are accessorised and maintained by the Clarks.
The end result is unique. You have the princess of Pancher, a kingdom near Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh, Smriti Singh and husband, a prince from the estate of Sarmatra near Dholpur, taking in guests in their spare bedrooms.
The Singhs whip up exotic meals for their house-guests, mostly foreigners, take them on a guided tour of their villa and let them try their hands at the large collection of old muskets, swords and hunting knives that they have at home.
Bureaucrat Manjit Singh, their neighbour in the Palm Court Colony, has let out three rooms in his duplex home to Jaipur Pride. Mahesh Tikku, a former banker, has seven Pride rooms in his sprawling home at the bustling Sawai Madho Singh Square, and simple vegetarian fare for the single and budget traveller.
“We love entertaining guests. It is our city and the visitor must feel at home,” says Smriti, also a bridal-line exporter.