If 2020-21 were the years of staying indoors, 2022 has most certainly been the year of travelling like never before. This Independence Day came with an extra-long weekend, and everyone around us had plans to travel but we just hadn’t gotten around to booking a place to stay it in time. So, when my husband’s friends decided to plan a big trip with couples and kids to a place located at a driving distance from Delhi, the search began in earnest. An obscure fort converted into a heritage hotel near Jaipur came up – Mundota Fort & Palace Hotel – and fortunately it had rooms available! (Perhaps that should have been our first clue that a stay here would not be ideal, but more on that later!). We promptly booked ourselves in for two nights and had an interesting experience which I’ve written about it detail for Mint Lounge. But, when it comes to spilling the real unfiltered tea, with grains intact, this blog is where it’s at! So, read on for an honest review of the Mundota Fort & Palace Hotel:
MUNDOTA FORT & PALACE HOTEL:
No review of Mundota Fort & Palace Hotel would be complete without sharing a history of the property with you first. The Mundota Fort which lies North-West of Jaipur dates back 450 years and was completed in the 14th century by the Naruka Rajputs. Ownership changed hands over the years due to fighting within clans and the Nathawat Rajputs became the owners and remain so to this day.
At the bottom of the hill is the accompanying palace which was built in the late 15th century by the grandson of Raja Prithviraj of Amer. Their website states, “It was expanded by the following generations. The Mundota Thikana (Estate) was a double Tazimi Jagir (enjoying the highest respect at the royal court) of the Jaipur dynasty.”
Reopened after extensive renovations in early 2020, Mundota Fort & Palace hotel has been developed and is being run by the owners of the property. The entire hotel is divided into three distinctive parts. These are the fort, the palace, and a private horse polo ground housing some of the finest thoroughbred ponies. Each of these is located slightly far from the others and one needs to be transported in jeeps / off-roaders to reach them.
BOOKINGS & HOW TO GET THERE:
The easiest way to reach Mundota Fort & Palace Hotel is to drive there from Jaipur city. Jaipur itself is easily accessible by car from Delhi, or bus, train and airplane from most other metro cities.
Book directly on the Mundota Fort & Palace Website to avail the best deals.
TYPES OF ROOMS:
There are 52 rooms and suites on site, but when a destination wedding is being hosted, which seems to be the mainstay of a boutique heritage property like this one, they put up Luxury Swiss tents to offer up to 170 rooms. An additional number of rooms is also being developed now.
The Fort Suites, which are few in number, are far better than their palace counterparts. They come with palatial rooms, offer stunning vistas of the Rajasthani countryside and have attached plunge pools, apart from providing access to the terrace pool which is also located in the fort area. The Palace rooms on the other hand, are done up in a more ostentatious style but are smaller, less attractive and offer a plain hillside view. We stayed in a Fort Suite on the first night but had to shift to the Palace for the second night because the Fort suites were pre-booked for that night. Though this allowed us to assess both style of rooms, it also made us compare them with each other! And unfortunately, the Palace fell far short.
THINGS TO DO:
As with all heritage properties, the Mundota Fort & Palace Hotel has plenty to offer, but as we were on a group staycation, we didn’t venture out much, mostly staying indoors and entertaining ourselves with games and gossip. However, we did venture out on both evenings to take my animal-obsessed son horse-riding on their polo grounds, which was easily one of the most memorable parts of the trip. For those who are looking for a comprehensive review of the Mundota Fort & Palace Hotel, however, here is a round-up of things to do at this property:
Recreation: The polo ground has 80 stables and some of the finest horses in India. It is advertised as India’s only active polo ground attached to a heritage property. On request, private polo matches, riding lessons or champagne sundowners can be organised at the Mundota Polo Grounds.
One can also request for curated experiences like step-well dining, camel riding, camel polo, hiking on the Aravalli mountains, visits to the nearby village, heritage walks and jeep safaris. I didn’t ask for any of these, so I cannot speak for them.
The kids enjoyed their horse-riding and the adults loved walking on the beautiful polo grounds. One day, we also visited the local Hanuman Mandir located on the hill opposite the fort.
On our second night there, we requested them to do up our attached balcony / sit-out area in the Palace room as we planned to spend the evening there. For this, they did an excellent job. Candles and beautiful décor really amped up the space, making us feel as if we had stepped back in time to party like the kings and queens of yore.
Dining: There is only one in-house restaurant that serves below average food. When we were there, the Fort did not have a separate kitchen and so everything we ordered, came from the Palace. It took forever to reach and was often cold by the time it arrived. Not an ideal experience for sure.
Sports and Relaxation: Swimming in the private plunge pools is perhaps the only activity one can partake of on the property. You may want to check the status of the swimming pool in the Palace though – it was horrifically dirty when we were there!
Weddings & Events: It seems that the entire raison d’etre of the Mundota Fort & Palace Hotel is to cater to the ever-increasing luxury wedding destination segment. Their entire look and feel is geared towards this. In fact, the lack of a kitchen in the fort also indicates that they do not expect their guests to be ordering things at odd hours, eating together with the wedding party instead.
Apparently, Mundota Fort & Palace has over 12 different event venues comprising gardens, a banquet hall inside a hand carved stone structure, terraces and pavilions. A little birdie told me the next person getting married here is Hansika Motwani who is all set to tie the knot with her businessman beau!
REVIEW OF MUNDOTA FORT & PALACE HOTEL:
At the very outset, it’s important to point out that the Mundota Fort and Palace Hotel is very striking to look at. The imposing fort, stunning hill top views of an arid countryside punctured with the green of the polo grounds, and aesthetic old-world charm are its strongest suits. Yet, as a place offering luxury hospitality, it needs a lot of work in comparison to other palace and fort hotels in India. A huge drawback is the food, which needs significant improvement overall – in terms of variety and taste. And the fact that everything needs to be transferred from the Palace to the Fort in real time, increases the burden on the staff and annoys the patrons.
Even though it’s a relatively newly-refurbished property, a state of disrepair or perhaps neglect is evident in the damp and crumbling ceilings of the Fort Suites, as well as in the lack of running hot water and unclean bedsheets in some of the rooms. The dirty swimming pool at the Palace and the lack of basic amenities like refrigerators in every room, also left an unfavourable impression. All this may have been forgiven had the price point been more affordable, yet at the steep payment they charge (basic rooms in the Palace start at INR 17,110 per night and Hilltop War Fort Suites go up to INR 30,090 per night), we just didn’t get what we paid for.
The hotel’s owner claims that these teething problems are being examined in detail and things will look quite different next year. Let’s hope he’s right because the place has a unique charm that truly works in its favour. If you decide to visit the property, I will strongly recommend staying at the Fort instead of the Palace, as it is majestic and unique. Booking all five rooms of the Fort for a special celebration is also a great idea.
Here’s a visual tour of the property:
I do hope you found my review of Mundota Fort & Palace Hotel useful. Have you stayed here? What did you think of it? Do you plan to visit it after reading this post? Do share your thoughts in the comments section below!
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