Forumsee logo
Forumsee » Travel » General » Read message
RSS: Subscribe to RSS

Trip review: Aman-i-Khas, Amanbagh, The Lodhi - Ranthambore, Ajabargh and Delhi

Luxury Hotels - FlyerTalk Forums - www.flyertalk.com
DISCLAIMER: I was hosted by Aman and hosted 1 night at The Lodhi and paid a reduced rate for the 2nd night. I am under no obligation to post a review on FlyerTalk; thoughts below are my own

Without wishing to be too hard sell - feel free to contact me for bookings with Virtuoso benefits and all that: @zebrano.com]

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, onto the reports.

I didn't write individual reports because this is almost an itinerary within itself (and a 'suggested' one at that) so I thought it best to do a write up.

We landed in Delhi on September 30 - and having decided to take a car down to our first stop of Aman-i-Khas (a good 8 hour drive from Delhi!) we made the smart choice of staying overnight in Gurgaon instead to avoid the crazy traffic. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency overnight, which was more than adequate for the stopover. Doing this, we shaved a couple of hours off the drive.

A huge shout out to IndiabyCarandDriver (www.indiabycaranddriver.com) whom we used for driving around. Our driver, Mr. Rajkumar, was fantastic - knew when to engage in conversation, when not to, and took us to some interesting local spots for food and tours during the trip. I'd highly suggest checking out Chand Baori, which is a little bit out of the way from the Delhi > Aman-i-Khas drive, but definitely worth it.

By doing the long drive, we actually got to experience much of rural Rajasthan with stopovers along the way - and while I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend the drive (which can be smooth with the new roads, but also bumpy when it comes to the smaller towns you have to pass through), it's certainly an interesting alternative if you only plan to do Delhi > Ranthambore > Ajabgarh rather than Jaipur etc (where flights are available).

AMAN-I-KHAS

We stayed in Tent 10. Please note that the tent I filmed in the video below may be a different number.

Positives:

- Service: the GM was away, but Amit and the team were absolutely wonderful and on point, right from arrival. A special shout out to our batman/butler Satish - some of the best service we've ever had at any Aman, especially the surprise at the fort which I won't ruin. From always being alert and 'there' when you arrive from an excursion, to taking care of the little details (day 1: Satish noted my dad always likes his tea with warm/hot milk on the side. This was very well remembered throughout, including at the surprise at the fort, and relayed to Amanbagh).

- The grounds are surprisingly large - initially when you walk in they seem quite small as you only see the tents, but if you explore beyond that it's a large site and very picturesque.

- Tent: If this is a tent, I definitely need to go camping more often.

- Food: I'm not sure whether to put this down as a positive or a point to note; the food we had on the whole was quite good, but not spectacularly so as I've had at some other Amans. There were some standout dishes, and I thought bizarrely, the Western offerings at Aman-i-Khas were better than the Western offerings at Amanbagh.

Points to note:

- Not a criticism of Aman-i-Khas, since they cannot do anything here (I assume), but the tour guides when you enter Ranthambore National Park (be it for the safari or for the fort) are not supplied by Aman but are local tour guides. Unfortunately, the level of service really varies. Our national park tour guide was fine without being exceptional. Our fort guide - perhaps it was an issue of language, as he certainly seemed more comfortable chatting in Hindi than in English (which was rather long, monotonous etc). I would also have appreciated much more hard history about the fort (sometimes difficult in India I know!) rather than elaborate myths and legend with no real basis. It's fine to have the odd interesting legendary story, but I wanted to know about the fort - not stories that people made up. Having said that, as I mentioned, towards the end he seemed to be a lot more comfortable in Hindi. He also mentioned he worked for Aman for a while before shifting to working on the other side.

- I think Ranthambore has really built up over the years; so Aman-i-Khas is simultaneously not as remote as you'd imagine, while still being remote (Sawai Madhopur, the main town, is quite crowded for being just outside a safari, but then Aman-i-Khas is quite a drive in from there).

- The air conditioning duct inside the tent is rather annoying. I stubbed my toe several times against it.

- Unfortunately, they forgot to give me my luggage tag (rectified later at Amanbagh)!

- I think that knowing that we were expecting a long drive ahead from Aman-i-Khas to Amanbagh, they would have provided an Aman-like basket of goodies (biscuits, refreshments etc) but sadly, nothing was provided. They do this at Aman Bali when you go out for an hour or so excursion, so perhaps my hopes were raised due to this! I do think it would have been a wonderful touch.

- The Indian safari experience is definitely a very different one to an African one (without having experienced the latter, but from what I imagine), but again, not something Aman has no control over.

- Sadly, didn't see a tiger (I'm told the best time to visit is November and March). I do feel like Aman could have done more to ensure I got to see a tiger here though...I jest. They actually even generously offered an extra safari ride (complimentary) upon seeing my disappointment when I returned from the ride. We did see lots of other interesting wildlife though, including leopards (reputedly harder to spot than tigers) and nilgai (interesting colour on the males!)

Photos and videos:

Aman-i-Khas, Ranthambore, Rajasthan, India

Aman-i-Khas, Ranthambore, Rajasthan, India

AMANBAGH

We stayed in pavilion/suite 29. Please note that the tent I videoed below may be a different number.

Positives:

- Picturesque, remote location: There's no complaining about the location here. Foothills of the Aravali range, and we had visited just after the monsoon season so everything was still relatively verdant

- Design: Ed Tuttle at his finest. The main pool in particular is a real treat. The rooms are quite nicely done too, and the Pool Pavilion is worth the extra splurge for the space and private pool.

- Food: Again, I'm not sure where to place this really. On the whole, fairly good, but I expected better. Some standout dishes, particularly on the Indian side; the Western offerings here (pasta etc) were quite poor.

Points to Note:

- The point of Amanbagh? Echoing bhrubin's comments from his review, I can see how Amanbagh would appeal. But I think you have to choose it very carefully and set your expectations accordingly. We're of Indian origin, and we've seen much of rural India. I see two-three reasons why anyone would choose Amanbagh: 1. To experience a different sort of India after the palaces of Jaipur, Udaipur etc; t. same as #1, but instead of a cultural tour around rural Rajasthan, using it as a final relaxing layover before heading back home; 3. same as #2, but if you're based out of or living in Delhi/anywhere in India, it's a great relaxing Aman getaway. However, you have to really come in here with expectations set accordingly.

- Service: Karin, the GM, was not present at the property during my stay. Unfortunately, it seems like service suffered here in absence. It's hard to pinpoint it, but right from arrival, it seemed like the place lacked the signature 'Aman warmth'. Everything just seemed so robotic. There were a couple of incidents in particular that really grated:

1. A clothes hangar in our pavilion was broken. Amanbagh uses wooden hangars, and the end had come off and was splintered. Very dangerous. Before leaving for breakfast one morning, I left this hanger out in a deliberately broken state so housekeeping could take care of it. When I returned, housekeeping had done up the room, and 'fixed' the hanger by simply pushing the broken piece back in and hanging it up rather than replacing it. I had to specifically call in to get this replaced.

2. One afternoon, I went to the main pool. I put down my equipment (camera, book, laptop etc) on a lounger while I went to the boutique to browse. I returned 10-15 minutes later to the lounger. There was staff walking around, but no one came over to check up or offer me a menu or drink (or even a glass/bottle of water). It took 20 minutes, before I finally had to grab someone's attention.

At the same time, there was also some good service from some key individuals and recovery following the above incidents which I do feel the need to highlight:

- I love sunsets and golden-hour shots. I went to the main pool one late afternoon to take photos looking back at the main building. However, I do not carry a tripod with me so I make do with what I can (ledges, coffee tables etc). I left my drink and book at the lounger where I was seated, while I went to the edge of the pool to take the photos. Upon seeing my repeated struggles, a local attendant named Shiv, without my asking, moved a sun lounger, drink and holder over to where I was attempting to take photos from.

- Excursions: Amanbagh had planned out an excursion sheet for me, including a complimentary excursion as part of my stay. I was hoping for the cowdust tour or one of the more unique excursions (Bhangarh Fort) to be provided complimentary. Sadly, the one they provided complimentary was a religious ceremony at a local temple. Being of Indian origin (and surely Aman knowing of this), this seems like the one we'd be least interested in! As a result, we advised Aman that we were to skip this excursion and will decide on further excursions later. To their credit, they then switched this around to the Cowdust tour, but by then it was too late as the weather had taken a turn for the worse.

- Amanbagh heard about Aman-i-Khas missing to provide me with a luggage tag, and went out of their way to ensure I received one before I left the Aman properties. They also noticed that I was looking at a hat/cap at the boutique but didn't proceed to buy it. They provided this as a gift.

- As a general note, I'd be curious to see if they'd expand here by building private residences/villas.

Photos and videos:

Amanbagh, Rajasthan, India - Pool Pavilion

Amanbagh, Rajasthan, India - Pool Pavilion

This is the photo in question where Shiv went through all that trouble. I think he'd be disappointed I didn't do better!

THE LODHI

Positives:

- The rooms: Size, space, terrace/balcony, pool etc. What's not to love?

- The location: Maybe it's to do with how the hotel is designed, but it really feels quite serene here considering you're in the heart of Delhi.

Points to note:

- The main pool: this is a study in how to ruin beauty. The main pool at Lodhi is absolutely gorgeous and, based on the above comments about serene location, a serene place to be. Except in the late afternoons and evenings - The Lodhi has 'generously' opened up the Lodhi's pool, spa and gym facilities as a members' club, meaning the who's who of Delhi comes in after 4pm. It gets crowded, everyone is swimming laps in that pool at different paces, and people are generally loud and obnoxious, including a particularly hilarious incident where a guest complained very loudly non-stop for half an hour to staff about the fumigation that is carried out every afternoon/evening.

- The pollution: This seems contradictory, but do you really want a terrace in Delhi? If you're staying at The Lodhi and paying a premium, presumably you're doing this for the private pools and terraces. The minute we opened our windows/doors to the balcony/terrace, you can TASTE the acrid air. It's disgusting. Having said that, I did spend a whole afternoon by the pool working.

- Food: Very much a mixed bag. Since we had plenty of Indian food during our stay, we decided not to eat Indian at the Lodhi. Some of the sashimi and sushi on offer (despite being cut poorly) was of good standard. But they managed to screw up my eggs benedict (I can never understand how hotels can't get eggs right...) and the pasta I ordered for lunch was doused in so much sauce that I could have called it a soup.

- Service: for the most part, it was ok without ever being very good. The final day was tedious though. We were granted a late 4pm checkout. After early days at both Amans, it was nice to finally sleep in. Except Lodhi staff tried to ensure we didn't. On the final morning, we were awoken at 7:00am by staff bringing us tea. We informed we had not asked for any - but the staff was adamant we had. And left it in our room while he connected with his team to check where the mistake was. And as we had said we had not ordered any morning tea, he had to come back in to take it away.

* You get spoiled by Aman housekeeping who would even do up your room if you're scheduled to leave at 9:00am. Now, while I'm not expecting every place to do that, I do expect housekeeping to do up the room at least once (breakfast? lunch?) if we are scheduled for a 4:00pm check out. Our room was never done up.

Video (note: this is an old video from a site tour):

The Lodhi, Delhi, India - Lodhi Deluxe Room

The Lodhi, Delhi, India - Lodhi Deluxe Room
Date: Mar 2, 2017   


Last videos:

President Trump in China
President Trump in China
President Trump in China
President Trump in China
President Trump in China
President Trump in China
United Ends 747 Service
United Ends 747 Service
Warthog Save Baby From Cheetah & Leopard, Incredible Baboon
Warthog Save Baby From Cheetah & Leopard, Incredible Baboon
https://www.wellness350.com/rapiture/
https://www.wellness350.com/rapiture/
Belmond Hotel Cipriani (Venice, Italy): review + Youtube clip
Belmond Hotel Cipriani (Venice, Italy): review + Youtube clip
https://www.wellness350.com/lutrevia-youth-cream/
https://www.wellness350.com/lutrevia-youth-cream/

Cars ·
Travel ·
Pets ·
production-frontend