This is the kind of place you could stay for days- and not get bored. And discover new corners and hidden little details that have obviously been thought of with SO MUCH LOVE and care.
One moment I turned to discover a double sided wardrobe(GENIUS!) encased in pakistani mashroo curtains, and in another moment I found myself doing yoga next to a beautiful silk chanderi curtain with the tiniest little booties you could have gone days without noticing.
The food was incredible, and simple and you really felt spoilt after every meal. Piyush and his team took such care of us that my rotis were never without a good dollop of butter. Breakfast(on days you dont venture into the park) is on this beautiful long table in the lawns overlooking the river, and lunch was served in the vegetable patch, only a few metres away but an entirely different experience.
Joanna and Raghu who run the place are so integrated into the community, they know two boatmen who now work permanently for Sarai's guests and recognise every species of bird you will spot on your little boat ride- complete with fantastic cushion upholstery. <3
But what I will never forget is the careful choice of cosmetics and the sweet tea station in our room- filled with only the most wonderful teas and coffee for any kind of craving. PS: I still miss their shampoo.
If heaven were a place on earth, then this would surely be it! From the moment we arrived, until the moment we left owners Joanna, Raghu and their team made us feel like one of the family.
Our comfy spacious traditionally constructed cottage room was designed to maintain an ambient temperature, all year round. Pleasingly, the Sarai is a plastic free zone, and we were provided with plentiful freshly filtered water, quality teas and locally produced eco toiletries in refillable glass bottles including a citronella oil repellent, though we didn’t see any mosquitos during our 3 day stay here.
Set peacefully on the banks of the river Kenn, our communal seating area was open sided. We met for pre dinner drinks and home made snacks around a log fire, and dined under the moon by candle light. Lunch was served in the vegetable garden, and on our final day we had breakfast by the river. All meals were developed from Raghu’s family recipes, tasty, plentiful and beautifully presented. All staff at the Sarai were helpful, kind and friendly.
We took advantage of some of the activities on offer including a delightful afternoon on the river bird spotting with their resident naturalist Jaipal (JP). He also accompanied us on early morning and afternoon safaris into the Panna Tiger Reserve where we were expertly driven by Devindra through fabulous scenery and we’re fortunate enough to see Tigers, a leopard, a sloth bear and a variety of deer, monkeys, birds, bugs and even frogs!
Our only regret was not being able to stay longer in this perfect place that replenishes the soul, there was so much more to explore and experience in the surrounding areas I’m sure we will return another day.
We decided to treat ourselves at the end of two months travelling in India and it was worth every rupee.
Everything at the lodge from the food and room to the staff was perfect. A lot of the food was straight out of their organic garden where we also ate. It has a perfect peaceful location by the river but close to Panna tiger reserve main gate.
We were delighted to do our safaris through the lodge as their driver and guide were awesome - without them we would never have seen the 2 leopards and they were so much more knowledgable than the government guides.
I would definitely recommend to stay here and to do some safaris in Panna. Thanks again to Raghu and Piyush for a great stay!
We stayed at Sarai at Toria for three nights and loved it. Khajuraho and its temples are nearby, but the resort itself is a sanctuary of peace and quiet, with nature all around.
Our bungalow room in its jungle setting was large and comfortable, with a huge bathroom and all very clean.
The staff were very helpful and professional. Our boat ride on the Ken river at first light was a highlight, with great birdlife. Breakfasts and dinner were all good, with a lemon souffle for dessert one of the highlights. A final touch after dinner was to find hot water bottles in your bed, very welcome on the cool February nights.
Raghu's achievements in tiger conservation are an inspiration. We didn't chase tigers on this occasion, but Raghu instead organised an extra bird outing which was very much appreciated.
First, a huge thank-you to Joanna and Ragu for their kindness and attention. The Sarai is beautiful, the food wonderful (I'm going to ask for a couple of recipes, it was that good), the insight into tiger behaviour in the Panna park was extraordinary, but what will stick is the kindness. It was unseasonably cold when we visited and my husband has Raynaud's, so we were given heater in our room, plus windproof jackets for game drives and hot water bottles when needed. Oh, and when the internal flight we should have taken was cancelled, they gave us a delicious packed lunch for the drive to Varanasi. Other highlights: the evening paddle on the River Ken, the walk through Toria village, lunches in the shade by the vegetable garden, being able to question Ragu about the tiger conservation project. Chatting and dining with other guests was also memorable. Go if you can.