the best hotel in the world?

the Vanya Vilas Resort in Ranthambhore

Well, what can I say…? Usually I only blog about the most amazing places that I completely love and the Vanya Vilas is certainly not a bad a hotel.

However, the best hotel in the world? I don’t quite think so!

Maybe due to the extra high expectations, the things that were not quite up to par were even more obvious. It certainly has some 5 star qualities, but a long way to go to claim the title of the best hotel.

Problem no. 1 is the location, which obviously can’t (and shouldn’t) be changed: tigers need to be where they have some peace and quiet and that most certainly can’t be next to a busy airport. However for the traveler, who needs to reach the resort, this means a flight to Jaipur and then a 3.5 hour drive to Ranthambhore.

El Bulli is not exactly easy to get to either and that therefore should not be held against any esteemed establishment. However bouncing around on Indian dirt roads for 160 kilometers is not necessarily adding to the fun.

Once arrived, the gates are inviting and gorgeous and the hotel main area is quite nice. Drop dead, “Oh my God!”, I never saw anything so beautiful in my life beautiful? No! But not bad either. It looks a lot like the Raj Vilas in Jaipur and was obviously designed by the same architect and interior designer.

the tent interior

The tents are lovely and add a very nice individual note to the experience. They are generously sized (a good 70 sqm) and scattered over the resort that there is a lot of privacy. I am not sure about the tiger fur inspired carpets and chair covers though…

The food is good, but the prices are ridiculous, as are the room rates. Even for half the price, still close to $550, it felt too much. I am not someone regretting spending money on something great, but if I would have to sign a bill for over a $1,000 a night without any food, I most certainly would have complained.

The staff is mostly attentive, but has its Indian moments. Sorry, not quite politically correct, but if certain things can’t be done (even though they surely could, if one tried) and it is then blamed on all kinds of other circumstances, I don’t feel I am in a 5 star experience. On the other hand certain things were made possible that created a top of the line specialness and that also needs to be pointed out!

Back to the food: Deep, the head chef is fabulous, but he only has one dining room and a lot of demanding customers and unfortunately a lot of screaming children to please. He is extremely flexible, caters happily to his guests’ wishes and gladly goes out of his way to make people happy. Hats off to Deep – I would have happily wrapped him up, take him to Bombay and have him cook in a restaurant close by that I can enjoy his lovely creations more often!

The breakfast is mediocre though and a selection of 4 processed cheeses and 3 different fruits for INR1,000 (about $23) is a joke. That is the “buffet”, which also has slices of salami and salmon and 2 types of cereal, and in addition to the breakfast menu, which in total after a coffee, juice, some eggs and said “fruit cheese platter” sets you back a good $100, there is nothing special to say about that.

The massages are lovely and comparably cheap. A couple’s massage with milk rose bath afterwards is to be head for around $275 and the spa staff is very experienced and deserves praise.

What can I say, all in all: not bad, but certainly not worth $1,500 a day. It was nice to go, but I am pretty sure I can think of many other places I would rather go for that kind of money that I enjoy a lot more!

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