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Sher Bagh, a luxury tented camp by Suján hotel review

Sher Bagh, a luxury tented camp by Suján hotel review

Ancient forts, majestic palaces, and enchanting temples speckle the countryside of India’s most romantic region, Rajasthan. The northern destination is also home to Ranthambore National Park, a former royal hunting ground turned wildlife reserve. It also happens to one of the best places in the world to spot the elusive tiger. On the outskirts of the park, tucked away from the main stretch of hotels, lies a luxury tented camp that provides a safari experience fit for royalty – called Sher Bagh.

Traveller: Sarah Driggs of Compass + Twine
Room: Luxury Tent
Address: Sherpur, Khilipur, Sawai, Madhopur, Rajasthan 322001, India
Date: March 2016
Best for: Spotting wildlife in style

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The Signature factor

There’s something romantic about staying in a tented camp outside in the wild brush. And while Sher Bagh’s property and guest tents are breathtaking and world-class, we were most impressed with the calibre of their safari guides. Like most folks visiting the area, we were there to see tigers. Fortunately for its guests, Sher Bagh employs some of the most experience and talented guides in all of India.

Run by the Forest Department of the Government of India, the park can be difficult to access and navigate (there are 10 zones and certain zones are much better for seeing tigers than others). We saw 3 tigers in 2 days thanks to the experience of our Sher Bagh guide, in terms of both tracking the tigers and securing access the best zones in the park. His knowledge on all the animals in the park, as well as the history and ruins of the area, proved to be invaluable and made for an incomparable experience.

The concept

Sher Bagh is laid out within the Ranthambore brush like an elegant, 1920’s classic-style safari camp. There are 10 luxury tents, 2 luxury suites, and numerous common social areas. Throughout the property you’ll find furniture that was used for the Prince of Wale’s Tour of India’s Wild Heartlands dating back to 1921. The main lounge tent is adorned with vintage leather seating, old-school binoculars and phonographs, and other antique items. Outside, a pathway snakes through the brush leading to an outdoor bar space, fire pit area, and infinity pool looking out into the wilderness.

First impressions

After a long, bumpy drive from Jaipur to Ranthambore National Park, pulling off dusty road and into the Sher Bagh camp was like stepping back in time. We were greeted with friendly smiles, a fresh drink, and a welcomed cold, wet towel. With vintage décor and a sophisticated safari-style, the camp evokes a sense of nostalgia for the British-Raj era.

The room

Our luxury tent was a fun and wonderful refuge after a day of exhilarating safari game drives. There’s an excitement to zipping up your tent to create a private sanctuary inside and keep danger on the outside. The spacious and air-conditioned tents offer all the amenities of a top-notch luxury hotel room, except with more of a thrilling and adventure atmosphere.

En-suite bathrooms are grand in size and made of stone accented with elegant brass fixtures. In the bedroom, a large, vintage trunk lies at the end of the bed and embroidered pillows, depicting safari scenes, rest atop of the plush white linens. Bedside the bed, you’ll find a brass lantern and antique-style call-button, which sits ready to ring the butler should you ever need anything.

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Top suite

Known as ‘the finest address in Ranthombore”, Sher Bagh’s Royal Burra Sahib Suite is truly fit for a king – or maharaja! The walled-in, tented suite has a spacious colonial-style bedroom, private veranda with heated plunge pool, and comes with a personal butler. It looks out onto the game reserve, where it’s just you and the wild.

On my plate

Breakfast and lunch are had in the main dining tent, while dinner is experienced outside under the glow of the stars and lanterns hung in the trees. We enjoyed a simple combination of eggs, chutneys and chickpea-flour pancakes as a pre-safari breakfast in the morning, along with some sweet masala tea, of course.

Lunches reflect a similar combination of Indian and European cuisine, with many of the fresh ingredients harvested from the property’s own organic garden.

Dinnertime is particularly special, with its romantic lantern-lit setting and traditional Indian cuisine made in the outdoor clay oven.

I wish I could take home…

The colonial-style, brown leather safari chairs. Positioned around the outdoor fire-pit and within the main lounge tent, the chairs were so romantic, beautifully designed, and reminiscent of a bygone era. The vintage brass lanterns were one-of-a-kind too!

Spa life

Set outdoors in a private area of the brush on property, the Sher Bagh Jungle Spa is one of the coolest settings I’ve seen for a spa. It feels like a tiger could saunter by at any moment. After a long day of game drives, a full body massage is the perfect way to unwind.

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The accolades

  • The Times Magazine (January 2016): The Hotel Lust List – 25 Rooms to Stay in Before You Die
  • Tatler Travel Guide (November 2015): 100 Best Hotels in the World

Insiders’ tips

Opt for a private jeep experience, versus a group car for your game drives. The relative price increase is worth the personalized experience. All 10 luxury tents are similar and top notch, but if you are looking to stay for more than 2 or 3 days, consider upgrading to the suite with the private pool.

Last, and most importantly, if you have a driver or are driving yourself to the hotel, be sure to have clear directions laid out in advance. Google Maps is incorrect and the Ranthambore area is remote, so it can be difficult to navigate and has spotty cell service.

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Pet peeves

Getting to the property was difficult because of the remote location, so we wish were given more of a heads up on the faulty Google Maps directions.

If only…

The camp itself is amazing, as is the safari experience. As noted above, the only thing I’d improve would be the pre-arrival communication with regards to directions. Because of the rugged surroundings and lack of consistent cell service, a representative of the hotel should be manning the property’s land line at all times, in case guests need assistance or have questions in advance of arrival.

Where to find Sher Bagh

To be honest, I’m still not quiet sure WHERE we actually were. But that’s half the fun of it! You’re venturing on a safari, and it’s the wild brush, so areas are not always clearly marked. The property lies on the outskirts of Ranthambore National Park, but the exact position can be difficult to pin point. Ranthambore lies about a 3.5-hour drive from Jaipur and a 5-hour from Agra.

Sarah Driggs and Lindsay Ridenour are the storytellers behind the NYC-based luxury travel blog, Compass + Twine. Follow along on Instagram @compassandtwine as they unearth some of the best hotels and travel experiences around the globe. From scenic landscapes to local cafés, they reveal the true character of a destination, always highlighting the best place to stay!

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