Jaisalmer is a small village-town with basically two kinds of stay options: inside the Jaisalmer Fort walls or outside. Before going there we had read that the hotels within the fort were having some water and plumbing issues and therefore, to avoid putting more strain on the existing problem, visitors were advised to stay outside. Dutifully, Madhu and I abided. However, we later learnt that this was a false rumor floated by vested interests to reduce the popularity of the hotels within the fort walls. So later, when we got the opportunity, we spent 3 nights of our stay within the fort.
Desert Boys Guesthouse
Guesthouse is really a misnomer for this wonderfully restored and beautifully decorated haveli. We were brought here by Anil Vyas of Desert Boys Tours and Travels, who organized our Camel Safari through the Desert National Park. Our bags were deposited in the guesthouse’s store-room for the duration of our safari. We were immediately impressed by the guesthouse’s location – right at the heart of the fort – and interiors. Arvind Vyas, Anil’s brother, who runs the place, showed us three different double-rooms, each furnished and decorated differently but all of Rajasthani theme and we selected one to stay in after we returned from the safari. And it turned out to be quite a memorable one!
Not only was our room comfortable and aesthetically well-designed but the haveli’s common areas were also a wonderful place to hang out. A small terrace atop the 2nd floor, furnished with a Jhoola (swing) and a mattress-ed alcove jutting out over the fort walls, gave us fabulous views of Jaisalmer town and a perfect place to relax. An inner courtyard on the 1st floor was yet another place to curl up with a book. An in-house restaurant with a mix of traditional floor seating and table and chairs provided us with great breakfast and well-made local cuisine for lunch/dinner.
Arvind’s guesthouse is quite an old establishment but it has been recently renovated and brought to life in the prettiest way possible. What made our stay here even more wonderful was the opportunity to be within the fort walls all day long and walk about late in the evenings without any fear. We realized that one cannot really experience Jaisalmer in its true sense without living in a traditional haveli within the cramped lanes of its beautiful fort. To this end, Desert Boys Guest House turned out to be a fabulous stay!
Rating: 9 out of 10
Desert Boys Farm
One day while we were lounging at the guesthouse, we met Anil’s (Desert Boys Tours & Travels) and Arvind’s (Desert Boy’s Guesthouse) eldest brother, Pradeep Vyas. For some reason we connected with him instantly and ended up spending quite a bit of time chatting about life in Jaisalmer and about his family’s move from a neighboring village to the fort to cash in on the increasing tourism demands. Given how friendly and welcoming Jaisalmeris are, we weren’t surprised by his sudden invite to visit his farm-stay one evening for dinner; we happily accepted!
Desert Boys Farm is located on the outskirts of Jaisalmer just off the NH15 highway, heading southeast towards Barmer. The property is still under development but is ready enough to welcome guests who would like to experience a rural, almost out-in-the-wilderness experience, without having to camp it out. The farm-stay has about 10 eco-friendly cottages with mud walls and thatched roofs and traditional, rural decor. They are basic but comfortable with the perfect rural ambience one can hope for without letting go of the basic comforts of a soft bed and comforters and a modern, attached bathroom.
The cottages are arranged in a semi-circle around a large central courtyard, which provides ample space for relaxing or playing. A cemented platform in the center turns into a stage in the evenings for traditional Rajasthani folk performances and gatherings around a campfire. Our dinner included one such performance and it was just way too much fun! A group of students and teachers, part of a cultural exchange program, were staying at the farm at that time and we completely enjoyed their dance presentations as well as those by the professionals. However, the highlight of the evening was the spectacular dinner of traditional Daal, Baati and Choorma, prepared on-site. It was the best we had tasted in Rajasthan thus far and it completely made our evening!
A stay at Pradeep’s farm will give visitors the opportunity to go on camel or horse safaris into the neighboring desert-land, on animals that are bred at the farm itself. We got the opportunity to see the animals up-close and wished we had the time to stay for a couple of days just to experience a ride on his gorgeous horses!
Overall, we loved the rural ambience of Desert Boys’ Farm, the friendly staff that runs the place (including Pradeep) and the fact that its location gives visitors the opportunity to get away from the crowded lanes of Jaisalmer.
Hotel Golden Haveli
Located in a quiet, almost deserted-looking lane off the main highway, NH 15, which runs through the town, Hotel Golden Haveli is a newly built place in traditional architecture. We were immediately impressed by its lovely 1-storey facade with stone-latticed Jharokhas overlooking small courtyards before the main entrance. The interiors of the hotel were also immaculate and architecturally appealing. And to our pleasant surprise, our double-room was also spacious and well-designed.
For Rs.2000 per night, our room came with antique-styled wooden furniture, textured walls, wooden flooring, traditional ceiling lamps, a large flat-screen TV and a fabulous, cushioned seating area built into a Jharokha. The bathroom was large too with all modern amenities and hot water shower. The hotel staff was courteous and that lend an air of comfort to the place.
However, the only drawback is that this hotel is located a good 15-minutes walk away from Jaisalmer Fort. This meant that we were away from the lovely vibe and hustle-bustle that surrounds the wonderful fort. Also, it became a bit of a pain when we returned to the hotel late in the night as the lane was completely deserted and devoid of any streetlight. We had to rely on cell-phone lights to find our way and were in constant fear of being attacked by patrolling stray dogs or even muggers; not fun!
Rating:7 out of 10