Culture / Travel

Inside Villa Palladio Jaipur, the Newest Rajasthani Design Sensation from Marie-Anne Oudejans

A Glorious Nine-Room Retreat in the Pink City

BY Diane Dorrans Saeks // 01.11.23
photography Ashish Sahi

PaperCity contributing editor and bestselling book author Diane Dorrans Saeks has traveled in India since she was a young student, crisscrossing the subcontinent to study Mughal architecture, intricately handcrafted textiles, exuberant interiors, Raj-era design and culture, and to meet experts, always with a delicious dose of diamonds and precious jewels. Here, she reveals the chic new private villa near Jaipur, Villa Palladio, where you’ll want to stay … and stay… for our latest issue focusing on Extraordinary Travel around the world. 

With a dash of curiosity, much bravado, and endless passion, I have traveled on trains and boats and planes into every region of India, from classical Lutyens-inspired Delhi to historic Portuguese colonial mansions in fascinating time-warp towns of Goa. I’ve stayed at all the royal palaces in Udaipur and Jodhpur and met friends in palm-shaded villas in Kolkata and Kochi. I’ve also had the good fortune to spend time with the great India historian William Dalrymple, whose fascinating books include City of Djinns, a witty portrait of Delhi and its eccentricities.

All in a week’s adventure are ornate white-marble Jain temples, Victorian-era brass bands, and old-world wedding fireworks falling like diamonds and rubies and sapphires from the midnight sky. Sun-struck afternoons reveal ornamented pink City Palace architecture in the heart of Jaipur. The sun sets in hazy splendor as I’m scoping Jodhpur markets in search of silversmiths or a legendary gold-foil seller. Beauty is everywhere. Painted interiors in pink, blue, and red leave no surface unembellished. Maximal … I’m drawn more and more to exploring Jaipur.

India is vivid, exciting, and overwhelming, with kaleidoscopic beauty in all directions. The very air is electric, multidimensional. You can taste it. An afternoon walking through the crowded old fabric market Johari Bazaar in Jaipur can feel delirious.

Women in magenta, pink, indigo, or orange saris float past, dazzling the eye. Temple bells jangle, ravens and crows squawk, pilgrims chant, car horns honk, roaming dogs bark, and jasmine and roses and street food scent the air. Everything is on the move. I feel alive there, an enhanced version of myself.

 

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019 Villa Palladio By Marie Anne ASH_0620 Shot by Ashish Sahi.jpg COVER TRY (Photo by Ashish Sahi)
Marie-Anne Oudejans’ inspiration was the art and culture of Rajasthan and Jaipur. (Photo by Ashish Sahi)

Villa Palladio Jaipur

Restaurateur/hotelier Barbara Miolini, a Swiss-Italian resident of Jaipur in northern India, made a worldwide splash in 2013 when she founded ultra-ornamented Bar Palladio Jaipur in the verdant grounds of Narain Niwas Palace hotel. The turquoise-and-white decor, custom-made tented lounging daybeds in the garden, and pattern-on-pattern hand-painted murals were the talk of the international design world. Bar Palladio was designed by Dutch expat and Jaipur resident Marie-Anne Oudejans, a former fashion and jewelry designer.

Now, enterprising Miolini and Oudejans are once again creating buzz, with their new Villa Palladio Jaipur, a chic and colorful private hotel that celebrates Indian traditional style with pizzazz. A vision in scarlet, with every surface vibrant and embellished, the Villa is a hallucinogenic riposte to minimalism.

Villa Palladio is set in the verdant countryside to the east of Jaipur. It has nine dynamic guest accommodations, expansive black-and-white checkered marble terraces for sunbathing, a low-key restaurant, pool, spa, library, and meditation/yoga pavilion, within tall ramparts enclosing peaceful palm-shaded gardens. At night, with candles flickering on the hypnotic decor, it’s the new hot spot for the gilded youth of the region.

“My inspiration was the art and the culture of Rajasthan and Jaipur, which has been a center of craftsmanship, jewels, art, architecture, and embellishment for centuries,” says Oudejans.

001 Villa Palladio By Marie Anne ASH_0006 COVER TRY (Photo by Ashish Sahi)
A twin room is a hallucinogenic riposte to minimalism. (Photo by Ashish Sahi)

Discovering a former hunting lodge set among pink and white oleanders, Miolini and Oudejans have created an entirely original environment. They worked with leading artists such as Rajasthani painter Vikas Soni and talents of the Pink City for the pillow embroideries, metalwork tables, elaborate scarlet painting on walls, baroque brass sconces, striped awnings, and exquisite prints on fabrics. Oudejans also unleashed the most accomplished woodcarvers, master upholsterers, tailors, and specialist stone carvers for maximal effect.

And so, the hotel itself, freely translating and celebrating Indian artistry, has become a tribute to Rajasthani heritage, its love of beauty, and its history. It’s a heady romance, and for lovers of everything Indian, the new Villa Palladio Jaipur is a fever dream — entrancement and fulfillment in crimson and white.

Rooms from $350. Villa Palladio Jaipur, villa-palladio-jaipur.com/en

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