India has a way of beguiling those travelers who have come in search of her warmth, romance, and beauty. They might find themselves daydreaming of an afternoon, looking out over Pichola Lake in Udaipur, wondering what it might be like to own a little piece of her magic. If they are not careful, these fantastical musings may indeed come to fruition: Richard Hanson, and his friend Trish McFarlane first came to India for a friend’s wedding in the ’70s.
They were drawn back to holiday there year after year, and it was not long before they started with those fateful yearnings to buy a place of their own, which they could eventually retire to. Instead, they found themselves buying a piece of bare land on a scrubby 2 acres, about 5 miles from Udaipur. On this unprepossessing site, they undertook the behemoth task of erecting the wondrous Bujera Fort.
In 2015 they opened the massive, metal-studded wooden doors of their home, now a small boutique hotel for the fortunate few. Bujera Fort will make you gasp, laugh out loud, stop in your tracks. With lush green lawns, and a canopy of orange, lemon, and mango trees welcome you, with white bougainvillea and sweet-smelling frangipani thrown in for good measure.
The pattern of the marble-tiled black and white floored swimming pool will soon have you mesmerized. Once seated under a block print umbrella, with a salted lemon soda at hand, your travel-weary legs will surrender to the joy of restoration. For Bujera Fort is a place full of the promise of renewal. You will come away feeling both inspired and rejuvenated by her generous hospitality.
Every room invites you to linger, from the quiet luxury of your bedroom to the elegant comfort of the library complete with a bounty of thoughtfully selected novels, travel guides, and coffee table photographic books. Richard has united splendid style influences in the decoration of the hotel. These include his grandmother’s Bennison curtains, his years at Sotheby’s, classic English country houses in the Cotswold’s, and the extraordinary wealth of textiles, carvings, and art that India produces so lavishly.
Fresh seasonal produce graces the table, with meals served in the curtained dinner pavilion. At night, with the garden artfully lit, and a procession of earnest young staff at the ready, it is deliciously theatrical. As Jack and Sadie, the resident Labradors, see you off, you will look back at the onion-domed buildings that flank the pool with a deep regret that your stay has ended.
And as you drive through the gates, you may find yourself pondering a few fanciful daydreams of your own.