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“Extremely well run/well worth the expense”
Review of Ahilya Fort

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Ahilya Fort
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Maheshwar
Certificate of Excellence
eheston@mindspring.com
Level Contributor
5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
“Extremely well run/well worth the expense”
Reviewed March 22, 2011

This was my fourth trip to India; my first visit to Maheshwar. Ahilya Fort is the first Heritage Hotel I have booked. My wife and I booked a spacious, well-appointed standard room for two nights as a Christmas present to each other. The hotel is luxe in a very charming and understated way. The service is excellent without being intrusive or obsequious, the multi-course meals were some of the best I've had in India, made from family recipes with ingredients grown on the grounds. The location of the fort/palace/hotel on a bluff above the beautiful - and swimmable! - Narmada River is outstanding. The view from the patio at sunset brought tears to my wife's eyes when first viewed the evening of our arrival.

Meals, alcohol, tea included in the tariff. No tipping during the visit. You are encouraged to leave a tip for the entire staff on departure. Am eminently reasonable and congenial policy.

In summary a great place to chill, well worth the expense, and the travel to and from Indore. Not a lot to do in Maheshwar other than chill. Day trips can be arranged to a nearby temple town, which I'm told is terribly crowded, and to Mandu, though there is enough to see in Mandu to warrant spending the evening there. Given the hassle and adventure of travel in India, I found Ahilya Fort to be a welcome respite and would gladly have spent an extra day.

Prince Richard Holkar is a surviving member of the royal family who owns and operates the hotel. His taste is evident. He is also actively involved in the well-being of his former subjects as evidenced by the school he has established and the handloom factory which employs women from the town. The fabric is exquisite and garments can be tailored to your specs.

Room Tip: Purchase the family cookbook.
See more room tips
  • Stayed December 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
5 Thank eheston
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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191 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
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  • Value
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (54)
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English first
Beaminster, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed March 3, 2011

Our booking was difficult and no apologies forthcoming. The first night we spent in Looboo's Lodge, a miserable space where the cracks in the door admitted mosquitos, they had sprayed it with some ghastly smelling chemical, but did at our request find bedside lights. There was not even a brochure to inform us of the activities available. Very second rate. The second night we were moved into a lovely room with balcony and all that one would expect of a Relais Chateaux hotel.
There are seven 'luxury' rooms and three others and a couple of tented spaces. Friends occupied the standard rooms and they were dark, uncomfortable, the hotel dogs slept outside their door and barked on and off all night. The ablutions of the Indian staff could clearly be heard in the early mornings, travellers to India will be aware of the hacking, spitting and coughing which goes on.
There is a distinct feel of 'them and us' about Ahilya. If one is 'someone' you are likely to get special treatment, like champagne offered on the tea time boat trip, or dinner also on a boat with other boats carrying food and a bar in attendance. Whilst it is entirely the perogative of the owner to chose his companions from amongst his guests, it does make those left behind feel like second class citizens and appears rude.
It is an expensive hotel which is fine if one gets what one pays for. There seems to be no reason why all the rooms should not be of the same standard. Constant outbreaks of rage could be heard from arriving guests about their accommodation.
We were subjected to a long and tedious concert one night where drinks were not allowed, there seemed to be no choice in this matter.
The swimming pool which is beautifully situated had loungers covered in bird droppings and no one came to ask if we'd like a drink, a towel or anything else.
Lunches were excellent, dinners less so although the pre dinner nibbles were delicious.
The Indian manageress is delightful and tries her best against the odds to sort out problems. She is in charge of grouping people together for meals which in our case worked out very well but this is not always the case.
With reservations one would recommend this hotel but they need to be very sure of the quality of their room before booking.

  • Stayed February 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
7 Thank jennymakepeace
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Surrey
Level Contributor
13 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
Reviewed March 3, 2011

My first suggestion is that you never make our mistake of booking a standard room as the three rooms that are put in that category are not even fit for staff to sleep in. Having changed rooms twice, the final room overlooking the courtyard by the village entrance had an old dressing gown used as a curtain. We had very little sleep as the nightstaff and others were on duty outside our window and the noise went on all night. One couple who were offered the first room we moved from had such a row, they left the hotel instead of staying there. The food was delicious and we loved the different locations for each meal. We were rather surprised, however, by the host, Mr. Richard Holkar, choosing half of the guests to go to dinner on his boat while leaving the others feeling like second class citizens dining around the pool. As all the guests pay to stay at this hotel, this lack of courtesy does not become the owner . Sadly we left the hotel with a bad taste in our mouths but if you make sure you have a de luxe room it is a good place to be.

  • Stayed February 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
7 Thank keentravellerSurrey
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Portland, Oregon
Level Contributor
10 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed March 2, 2011

See the earlier review dated March 26, 2010. It strikes the right balance. Expect a rustic, rough-hewn place with character and charm. This ia a beautiful place but do not expect polish or luxury. The location above the town and the river is very nice, and so was the view from our roughly $500 "Royal" room. I thought the food was exceptionally good. One downside is that as I sit here typing, our "Royal" room is literally swarming with gnat-like bugs, and I did just see a cockroach scuttle along the floor. Bugs keep landing on my arms and chest even though the lights are off and the fan is blasting on the highest setting. Many people would have a difficult time with the bug situation but I'm trying to ignore it. My willingness to try to ignore the bugs says a lot about how much I like this place overall.

Our other quibble is that the manager asked us to vacate the room by 9am tomorrow (we said "no") This is the first time we've ever been asked to checkout early from a $600 room. The request was weird and rude.

  • Stayed February 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
5 Thank Jackjacksonville
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Framingham, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
71 reviews
25 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 43 helpful votes
Reviewed October 2, 2010

Stayed one night (family of 5 including 2 teenage girls in 2 rooms). Arrived 5PM as planned and everything was great until next morning when we were told that we will have to pay for lunch since we didn't show up until evening and they had prepared lunch for us. I told them and showed itinerary that we had planned to arrive late. Hotel said they had it in writing from my travel agent and travel agent said he told hotel to contact our driver regarding on the ground realities. In this "he says, she says" situation, we had to leave without lunch since lunch for 5 would have cost Rs. 6000! Informed Mr. Richard Holkar about this and the response was that they in future will try to handle this in the spirit of customer service.

  • Stayed August 2010, traveled with family
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Helpful?
4 Thank msagar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Moreton-in-Marsh, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
49 reviews
45 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
Reviewed August 12, 2010

We had a very comfortable room with a balcony overlooking the gardens, which are beautifully kept and included an excellent vegetable garden. We particularly enjoyed the light lunches with cold soups and light salads or pasta. Dinner in the evening was a bit disappointing and not nearly so imaginative.
The trip to visit the school and the silk weaving made a fascinating morning, with many happy faces keen to show what they were doing. We were able to see all the various stages of the silk being dyed and woven and children of all ages in their different classrooms doing a mixture of subjects.
All in all, we had a wonderful stay and hope to return again in the not too distant future.

  • Stayed March 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
Thank Dicky-Ann
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed March 26, 2010

I work in the luxury travel industry (Scott Dunn) and have seen and stayed in most of the best hotels that India has to offer. Ahilya Fort is quite simply one of the most amazing places I have ever been to, and my guests find it superb. What makes Ahilya special is that you are completely away from the main tourist routes; It offers a snapshot into an India that hasn't been altered or affected by tourism and this simplicity is its greatest attraction. As its all inclusive, all your meals, alcholic drinks and excursions are included making it good value for money. I suggest going for the Royal Rooms as they have views over the Narmada River. It has a wonderful dinner party atmosphere where guests meet on the terrace for drinks before generally dining together. You can spend days just sitting by the pool, or reading a book in the battlements, or taking walks through the town. There are some reviews that have questioned the service - we found none of this - in fact it was informal and on the mark. If you are after something exceptionally special then head to Ahilya - not if you want international standards of hotels. Maybe it is for the more seasoned traveller, so maybe head to a Taj hotel in Rajasthan if you are a little anxious of heading off the beaten track. For those who truly want to discover what India has to offer, then head to Ahilya.

  • Stayed July 2008, traveled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank Mjjpotter
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Ahilya Fort

Property: Ahilya Fort
Address: Ahilya Wada, Maheshwar 451224, India
Location: India > Madhya Pradesh > Khargone District > Maheshwar
Amenities:
Beverage Selection Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Maheshwar
Hotel Class:4 star — Ahilya Fort 4*
Number of rooms: 15
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The majestic 250 years old Ahilya Fort sits on the edge of a cliff, high above the sacred Narmada River, surrounded by the beautiful and unexploited town of Maheshwar. The views over the river and ghats are exceptional. Replete with myths and legend, Ahilya Fort offers guests a rare chance to get off the tourist trail and an abundance of things to see and do. With the fabulous, deserted city of Mandu nearby and the famed island temple of Omkareshwar even closer, this is a place at which to spend time and relax but from which you can also explore the area, undisturbed by the other tourists – a stroll down through the town to the ghats is a must. The food is delicious and it’s all-inclusive so, once here, you pay for nothing – be it food, excursions or e-mail! The pool is lovely; terraces and shady areas abound; meals are taken in different areas of the fort; the charming rooms and tents have superb views, balconies & gardens; the weaving center here is famous nationwide. A boat trip at sundown is something you will never forget. Truly a memorable place where you could spend days or weeks!There are 10 bedrooms scattered around the premises and the rates include full board and all excursions. It is the most perfect base for visiting Mandu (1 hour away) and is just a 2-hour drive from Indore. It makes the perfect place to end or start a holiday, as there is so much to do. From here you may also visit Dhar, Baneshwar and Omkareshwar. Being a gourmet himself, your host Prince Richard Holkar has the highest standards and the food here is delicious. Staying here is like a time wrap as the village is still enclosed within the fort itself and is truly wonderful to explore in your own time. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Ahilya Fort Hotel Maheshwar
Ahilya Fort Madhya Pradesh

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