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Photo gallery: Step inside the REAL Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Sorry, Dame Judi Dench. Move over, Bill Nighy. We love the cast of the Best Exotic Marigold Hotelfilms, but the real star is the hotel itself: a charismatic old dame, brimming with life (if a little crumbly around the edges). It’s impossible to watch the films without dreaming of visiting India yourself, so we were overjoyed to learn that you can actually stay at the hotel that starred in the movies, bedding down in the very same rooms where the characters’ stories are set.
In real life, the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is called the Ravla Khempur, and it is run by a noble Indian family. Though famous, it has retained its rather ramshackle charm – you won’t find any Egyptian cotton sheets or room service here. But you will find gorgeous old architecture, beautiful views, and truly welcoming hosts – all brimming with stories of how the movies were made.
In the films, the hotel appeared to be slap-bang in the centre of bustling Jaipur – but in fact, it’s deep in the quiet Rajasthani countryside. The street scenes were created using sets and hundreds of extras, but one piece of the movie remains: the hotel sign, which still sits greets visitors today.
Some of the hotel’s best rooms are on the roof, with a beautiful courtyard at its centre.Best Exotic Marigold Hotelfans might recognise some of the decorative archways and pretty nooks that featured in the films. Some of the bedrooms upstairs were used for filming in too.
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The tiny Hindu temple just outside the Ravla Khempur featured in the second film as Sonny and Sunaina’s wedding venue, and hotel guests can gaze down at its exquisite carvings. This photograph was taken at sunset, when the building glows amber in the dying sun.
Stay at the fabulous Ravla Khempur on ourReal Marigold Hotel tour of India– which also includes the Taj Mahal, colourful Jaipur, beautiful Lake Udaipur and an exclusive pre-departure talk from Deborah Moggach, the author of the original book which inspired the films and TV series.See the details
The rooftop is stunning at sunrise, too: it’s a real treat to sit up here and watch the tiny village of Ravla gradually come to life.
On sunny days, the courtyard gallery is the perfect place to retreat to – with a G&T, of course.
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The main entrance to the hotel – where Maggie Smith held court in the first film – is just as leafy and ramshackle as it appears on screen. Eagle-eyed film fans will spot the marigold flower carving that was created for the movie: it still presides over the courtyard today.
Peacocks strut through the gardens and over the rooftop of the Ravla Khempur, with the occasional flash of their colourful tail feathers.
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The hotel’s swimming pool didn’t feature in the films, but it’s a refreshing addition to the hotel – and is particularly inviting on those scorching hot summer days.
The Ravla Khempur’s owners are award-winning horse breeders, whose Marwadi horses are famous for their strength, agility and beauty. You’ll see these prized animals in the nearby stables, and experienced riders may even have the opportunity to take them out for a countryside hack.
Stay at the fabulous Ravla Khempur on ourReal Marigold Hotel tour of India– which also includes the Taj Mahal, colourful Jaipur, beautiful Lake Udaipur and an exclusive pre-departure talk from Deborah Moggach, the author of the original book which inspired the films and TV series.
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