While it might have been the venue for this year’s most talked-about Bollywood wedding, Six Senses Fort Barwara is much more than just a wedding destination. It is a rejuvenating getaway, that helps you slow down, pampers your senses, and heals you from within.
Another Rajasthani fort’s getting a hotel makeover, I thought, sceptically reading the invite. But then, this is Six Senses’ first property in India, and having enjoyed the Six Senses brand of hospitality earlier, I knew that it would be a different experience.
I love it when I am right.
Let’s dive into some info, shall we? A 14th century fort has been intelligently restored to create the wellness sanctuary that is the Six Senses Fort Barwara. The luxury resort has 48 suites, three restaurants, and possibly one of the country’s best spa experiences. Situated in the heart of the Barwara village, the resort is a short drive away from the Ranthambore National Park. The sensitively planned restoration process lasted almost a decade, beautifully incorporating two palaces and two temples within the walled fort. The architecture is exemplary of what one would call “Modern Rajasthani” – a tasteful amalgamation of 14th century architecture with contemporary minimalistic sensibilities. It is an art fiend’s dream to explore the medieval sections of the property, still intact, steeped in history and folklore, seamlessly juxtaposed with the modern constructions that are inspired by the ancient, but also create a soothing, undistracting, and relaxing ambience, that is perfect for anybody’s personal wellness journey. You leave behind the overfamiliar hustle-and-bustle and visual cacophony of typical Rajasthani art and architecture in Jaipur, as you make a two-and-a-half hour drive through undulating golden mustard fields (if you go at the right time, of course), and can feel the routine of your daily grind wash away.
The property is an imposing figure, looming over the quaint village that sits around it. True to Six Senses’ pledge to sustainability, the surrounding water bodies have also been adopted, and various indigenous floral species are being cultivated in the region. The resort itself boasts of a bottling plant, rainwater harvestation, only-indigenous flora, and a near-zero waste approach. The sincerity is evident from the details. As you enter the resort, the property reveals itself to you in layers, like an onion. You drive in through high, smooth arches, walk through 700-year-old ancient doorways, are greeted with a sound bath with giant singing bowls, wade through lush greenery to stand in front of the palaces, calmingly beige, shimmering under the winter sun. There is something wise and grandfatherly about the place. It isn’t trying too hard, it doesn’t offer gimmick and gaudy – there’s understated sophistication that is enriching for an evolved traveller.
The first palace houses a gorgeous open-air community area with fire pits and a performance space for vibrant musical evenings, a gentleman’s study stocked with books, portraits, and potent local liquour, a world cuisine restaurant, and connects to the suites. The second palace, or the Zenana, houses the spa. As you walk around, you find yourself in the Rani Bagh, the open-air restaurant, set amidst trees and pools, live performance areas, and a viewing gallery that delivers a hypnotic view of the Rajasthani countryside. The property indulges you with authentic Rajasthani craftspersonship and Shekhawati art at every touch point.
The clincher for any wellness sanctuary is the property’s architecture itself. Does it create a sense of relief and relaxation? Is there enough space to contemplate? Do you get the sense of being just with yourself? Visually, are you rejuvenated? Six Senses Fort Barwara checks all of those boxes, while retaining the joy of traditional Rajasthani staircases, corridors, high ceilings, terraces, and arches, successfully creating a space that is a pleasure to walk around, soak in, and introspect at.
The Ayurvedic consultation that precedes the spa treatments is insightful. The spa offers a variety of massages and intensive Ayurvedic therapies, along with unique offerings like transcendent sound journeys and tech-aided therapies. After an intense deep tissue massage involving hot stones and cupping (highly recommended), soaking in the sun in the spa’s gorgeous courtyard was therapeutic in itself too.
The promise is slow, respectful, and meaningful living, and if you want to experience all of that – and so much more – Six Senses Fort Barwara should be on your must-visit list. The staff are the sweetest, and extremely efficient (you will have an assigned GEM or Guest Experience Maker who can make anything you want happen in a snap. GEM? More like Genie), the resort hosts a variety of traditional activities every day which you can easily participate in (including a must-do history and horticulture walk with a charming storyteller), and the restaurants have a farm-to-table approach, delivering global cuisine, sourced locally, cooked to perfection. And, of course, there’s yoga. Lots and lots of yoga.
So, if you want to satisfy your soul – and your Instagram feed – Six Senses Fort Barwara should be your next getaway.