Friendly and full of historical character
This is a small family-run heritage hotel in a 300 year old haveli in Bundi's old town, located immediately below the palace. It is a lovely, characterful place to stay, although not for anyone with walking difficulties – access is via a steep alleyway (don't worry, hotel staff will carry your bags from the main road) and several flights of equally steep stairs. It is worth it however! There are just seven rooms and I imagine they would all have the historic atmosphere that ours did - old stone pillars, carved screens and niches, attractive old wooden doors. You can really feel the history that seeps out of these old stones.
But that history does not necessitate the sacrifice of modern comforts. We had an en-suite with large shower, wet-room style, and air conditioning. OK you have to wait five minutes when you shower before the hot water comes through (a quirk of the solar energy used) but you have a selection of toiletries, large thick towels, and a hair-dryer. Don't expect a TV or mini-bar though, although there is reasonable free wifi.
Our room overlooked an internal courtyard so had no real view, although we could see the palace ramparts to our right. Be warned - this courtyard (and probably most of the buildings in Bundi) seems to be a regular thoroughfare for the resident monkeys, who woke us early as they scampered through in search of food, sending a metal pot tumbling noisily to the ground and calling to each other!
If you choose to eat dinner here, and you should, this will be served on the rooftop (weather permitting) at a time to suit you. It is a set vegetarian meal, and judging by what we had, delicious. You will be asked in advance if you like spicy food or not, so there's no need to worry on that score – we said that we did, yet found it less spicy than some dishes we eat regularly at home.
We were welcomed on to the rooftop with an offer of drinks - beer, wine, gin and tonic. We enjoyed these while taking in the fabulous view of the illuminated palace and watching the bats flit overhead. To accompany the drinks we were given tasty vegetable pakoras. The dinner itself consisted of a fresh vegetable soup, followed by a selection of dishes - crispy vegetables, paneer cooked in a spicy tomato and garlic sauce, potatoes with peas, a yellow lentil dahl and Basmati rice. There was also sesame naan bread. Desert was a single ball of Gulab Jamon, rich and syrupy. Service was friendly and attentive and the cost very reasonable - just 700IR per person for all that food (extra for drinks of course)
Our breakfast was served one floor below this, on an open-sided terrace with views of the town. There is cereal and fresh fruit (we had banana and papaya), juice, tea or coffee, eggs cooked to order, toast and home-made jams. We had a busy day planned, with a visit to the palace to be followed by our drive to Ranthambore and a safari booked for the afternoon, so we couldn’t linger over this as much as we would have liked. Our host ensured we were served promptly and later saw us off with a friendly gesture of free postcards of Bundi, as well as making sure we had help to carry our bags back down those stairs and down the narrow lane to the car. A stay here is highly recommended as providing a great combination of historic character and good value.
Next tip: we start our visit to Bundi Palace.
Directions: Up a narrow lane off Fort Road, the main street in the old part of Bundi. I have marked it on this Bing map – note that it is not where the map itself indicates
Best in Bundi!
When we arrived I was totally against considering Bundi Vilas. First up, it's off the main strip, secondly, the hotel's name seems to be missing an "L", and thirdly, we had already checked out 5 other rather disappointing hotels (incl Bundi Haveli). However, the wife gently insisted that we "have a little look," and I am so glad she did. We had intended to stay 2 nights in Bundi, we ended up staying 5.
We both felt so completely "on holiday" at Bundi Vilas and, after travelling around India for 2 months, I can certify is not always the case.
Unique Quality: The Room
Our room was 300 years old, and it really felt like it belonged to an Indian Princess. The bathroom floor was white marble and the windows weren't windows at all, but fantastically intricate stonework; don't tell Arun, the Manager, but we spent hours dangling carrots and bananas through these "windows" feeding three little baby monkeys. And it was dead quiet, except for the occasionally crackly desert insect.
The bed was a proper mattress, draped in a feather bed set and clean, crisp sheets (and in India this is no small thing, I'm writing this review from the Classical Indian Double Bed i.e. two single beds wedged together)
Bundi Vilas is a family run business. Or rather it is the pride of a refined but warm Rajasthani family. Once you know this I think you can get a good idea for the service. For example my wife felt a little off colour one day, and we spoke in passing to Arun, the manager, about it. The next thing we know we are receiving a consultation from Arun's Uncle, a Doctor, and the total bill for this service was 2 rupees (less than 10 cents). The kindness didn't stop there as Arun's mother prepared special "tummy friendly" food.
You could drink a can of coke on the hotel's rooftop and it would be special. It is directly beneath the palace but above rest of the old city. However, the family make sure every meal is very special. Breakfast is the full deal consisting of toasts, cereals, conserves, eggs as you like them, juice, seasonal fruits and teas or coffees. The buffet dinners are also a fine treat under the floodlit palace.
Directions: It is up a little winding alley, about 80 metres past gates and under the palace. Look for signs on main street to point you in the right direction. It sounds confusing, but it is actually very easy to find.
Nearby Bundi Vilas
Amenities at Bundi Vilas
- Free High Speed Internet
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