Tucked away in the little northern Rajasthani town of Churu, beyond a clutter of modest houses and rustic bylanes, rises this technicolour medley of a haveli, The Art House, standing tall – akin to an eclectic pista green three-tiered wedding cake.
Built in the 1920s by a wealthy Marwari merchant as a guesthouse for the Maharaja of Bikaner, it has now been transformed into a gorgeous unhotel with a heady mix of Italian meets Shehkawati architecture. Orante frescos, flamboyant stucco figurines, Mughal wall art and scenes from Indian mythology follow you everywhere you go – it is quite like living in your own personal museum.
At dusk, The Art House becomes more alluring – the sounds of the town echo over the beautiful crimson setting sun, the haveli glistens under the dying light, birds chatter as they hurry to nest in the trees and a faint sweet melody of folk music wafts to the ears from afar.
This beautiful haveli-turned-unhotel has a total of 12 air conditioned rooms categorised into comfort rooms, haveli rooms and heritage rooms. Most rooms are adorned with elaborate early 20th century Rajasthani frescos and come with their own private sit-outs or balconies overlooking the haveli lawns and nearby mansions of Churu. Interestingly, the beds in the rooms are handcrafted by local artisans – luxury exemplified!
The Art House’s elaborate ballroom now serves as the main dining hall. Expect an authentic mouth-watering Rajasthani menu of kair sangeri (desert beans), bajra rotis, gatte ki sabzi and spicy laal maas although the chef adds other traditional Indian recipes into the mix occasionally.
You can chose to dine in the lush lawns outside with the lovely green facade of the haveli as a backdrop. Breakfast is a mix of Indian and continental and is on the house.
This heritage haveli offers free WiFi to the guests. However, it’s only available in common areas and not inside the rooms.
Rooms are equipped with tea/coffee making facilities. Parking is available on the premises and laundry services will be provided at an additional cost. This Unhotel is not pet-friendly.
Please note that the reception closes at 22.30 Hrs. Prior information on check-in time should be given to The Art House.
Although Shekhawati’s open air museum will be enough to keep you busy, this Unhotel has a ton of exciting activities on offer. Guests can sign up for guided historical walks around Churu which was founded in 1563 and is quite historical, interact with the local artisan and farming community, go on a birding and wildlife spree, visit the nearby havelis of Ramgarh and Mahasar and go on a jeep safari through the desert where blackbucks and deer can be spotted in their natural habitat.
The Art House also organises bonfires in the desert, camel rides and folk music nights for guests to truly experience Rajasthan.
The Art House will take you back to the days of the Rajasthan Royalty. Not only is it located near the country’s most elaborately painted open air museum, it is a relic in itself – boasting of Rajasthani grandeur and yet modest at the same time.
For those who want a luxurious experience – to live like a king in Rajasthan. For whom having a heritage experience is more exciting than staying in modern day hotel rooms. Best for those planning a trip to Shekhawati.
Since this Unhotel doesn’t have elevators owing to its delicate heritage construction, we do not recommend it for the elderly. Also not recommended for the budget traveller. Or for those in constant need of hi speed internet and the plush assurances of a modern hotel.
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