Places we will visit soon once the Pandemic is under control is a new series that makes us dream and also plan our next travels. We start with the newly opened THE JOHRI at Lal Haveli a Five Suite Boutique Hotel, a modern Indian Restaurant and cocktail bar in the heart of Jaipur’s Jewellery market. This 19th century home is lovingly restored and reflects the elegance of a forgone era for a new generation of travellers. We are ready to go and had a chat with the founder Abhishek Honawar from Honawar Hospitality who has embarked on his second hotel project in Jaipur in partnership with Siddharth Kasliwal from the Gem Palace.
IRMA: How did Jaipur’s iconic jewellery market has changed and why did you choose this location for THE JOHRI?
ABHISHEK HONAWAR: Johri Bazar is one of the world’s biggest gemstone markets. It is one of the most visited places for travellers – domestic and international, coming to Jaipur. We fell in love with the market place, the charm, and the energy of it all. At Honawar Hospitality we focus on places that showcase Indian art, culture, and design. Hence the choice of location and name.
IRMA: You have chosen Naina Shah, an interior designer with Indian roots, living in New York. How did you collaborate on this project and what was the most difficult task to full fill?
ABHISHEK HONAWAR: We have been following Naina Shah’s aesthetic for many years now. Born and raised in Manhattan, she has never forgotten her Indian lineage. She is a director in a couture embroidery company for nearly a decade now and in process of launching her own line very soon. Her attention to detail and eye for blending the traditional and modern design is particularly what we loved. It was an easy pick for us.
IRMA: From the pictures the hotel seems to be a perfect interpretation of modern design in combination to traditional Indian art & design. How did you find colours and elements that reflect so well the surrounding of the location?
ABHISHEK HONAWAR: It was important to retain the integrity of the structure and the history of the property and architecture of the time in which it was built. We were very careful when selecting colours to work with and made sure to use timeless colours and combinations that were in the realm of traditional Rajasthani palaces and havelis, used for centuries. The pink used for the Manak (ruby) suite is a classic ‘Jaipur pink’, the Neelam (sapphire) suite is painted a shade of blue that is very familiar in Rajasthan in cities like Jodhpur and Udaipur. We used these traditional colours as the staring palette to work off of and then incorporated more contemporary elements in the form of embroidery, upholstery, furniture, and accessories. Everything was handmade by local artisans so naturally were a reflection of the local surroundings, craft and heritage of Rajasthan.
IRMA: Actually, the guest would not need to leave the hotel as you offer a restaurant and cocktail bar. Do you also have a spa and pool area?
ABHISHEK HONAWAR: There is enough to do inside and outside the hotel. The Johri acts as an oasis in the walled old city which is also a world UNESCO heritage site. One can spend a lot of time visiting historic monuments and cultural sites that are within walking distance of the hotel. Once inside the hotel, the guests can enjoy the restaurant and cocktail bar, enjoy a massage in the therapy room, relax in reading books, or do yoga on the rooftop. The suites are incredibly spacious and peaceful and provide the perfect place to lounge and relax alone or with your travel companions.
IRMA: To your opinion, do you think that small hotels with spacious suites will be in high demand in the future?
ABHISHEK HONAWAR: Absolutely. I think space and privacy are both sought after luxuries for today’s traveller. Small boutique hotels that are able to offer this along with the attention to detail and customized service will be in a winning position as the needs and wants of travellers evolve. Our suites at the Johri are intimate, unique, spacious and offer an experience that you would never be able to achieve in a large hotel. You are truly able to imagine how people lived in these beautiful Havelis in a time long ago! A piece of history that one can experience in comfort and luxury is something that cannot be replicated easily!
IRMA: Tell us one dish from the restaurant and cocktail from the bar to look forward to when arriving at THE JOHRI?
ABHISHEK HONAWAR: We have a truly expansive menu of North Indian delights with a contemporary twist – much like the aesthetic of the hotel overall! I would recommend trying the ‘sangri ki shammi‘ which is our take on the very traditional and hyper local Rajasthani desert vegetable ‘ker sangri’; typically cooked in a traditional sautéed mix, we have reinterpreted it by adding different pulses and making a ‘kebab’ of sorts – delicious! Also the paan patta chaat is a star dish – we have taken the local flavour of a betel leaf and adapted it into a delightful and addictive ‘chaat’ (street side snake) preparation with hints of savoury, sweet, crunch, salt – all the flavours to make a perfect combination in every bite!
all pictures courtesy ©Honawar Hospitality