When I retire I’m going to settle in a place where the sun is always shining and the drinks are cheap; so watching Judy Dench browsing colourful markets in the movie, ‘Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’, made me wonder whether India might be the retirement utopia I’m dreaming of.
As it turns out I’m not the only one thinking this, because just last year the BBC filmed a documentary featuring six British celebrities discovering if retirement in India could really be like the movie. Just like Judy Dench and co, the celebs stayed for a month in Rajasthan’s royal city of Jaipur to navigate the complex web of Indian culture and customs, whilst still finding time to practise yoga and embark on a journey of self-discovery.
Little did we know when we booked our stay in Jaipur, we had unknowingly checked into the BBC’s ‘Real Marigold Hotel’.
Staying at Khatu Haveli, Jaipur
I hadn’t seen the documentary, so I was surprised to hear about the BBC’s visit as we checked in. The owners said that their bookings had massively increased since the show aired, with many soon-to-be-retired Brits wanting to stay for extended periods of a month or more.
We didn’t have a month at our disposal, but we did have 4 days – one of which was Holi. We initially went outside to enjoy the colourful festival, but once the party started to get too rowdy on the streets we retreated inside to watch from the rooftop. One of my favourite memories from India is watching various games of Holi playing out on the terraces all around Khatu Haveli.
I absolutely adored Khatu Haveli. It is centrally located in Jaipur’s old town, and the hotel will arrange transport if you want to go to the Amber Fort or further afield. In the evenings, we ate dinner under the stars on the rooftop. Far from being a hotel, Khatu Haveli retains an intimate guesthouse atmosphere where the owners join their guests around the table for dinner and conversation. The owners of the Haveli offer a wonderful example of Rajasthan’s famously warm hospitality.
After two years of living in Mumbai, I know that I’m no longer planning to retire in India – there is no visa that would currently allow it anyway – but it was a relaxing few days in a gorgeous setting, and it’s a great base for a visit to Jaipur.
If you would like to know more about Khatu Haveli, you can visit the website here, and if you enjoyed this post please share on your social media channels.