I saw “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” last night and came home fantasizing about living in such a fabulous place. So I Googled to find out if there’s a real retirement hotel like the Marigold in India; after the huge success of the first “Marigold Hotel” movie it seemed like a no brainer – surely an entrepreneur in India must have started one.
I found nothing, which doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist – just that Google doesn’t know everything.
For me, the movie created an intoxicating fantasy. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is not a commune (which doesn’t appeal to me – too much responsibility), but an inexpensive hotel that caters to “the elderly and beautiful,” with private rooms, meals, staff to clean up and interesting retirees to schmooze with. It’s run by a charming if rather tactless young innkeeper who cares about all his residents so much that he takes roll call in the mornings to make sure no one has died in the night.
The hotel is in a warm climate, so you hang out on the patio and in the gardens and socialize with the other residents, and admire the tropical foliage instead of being cooped up in your room. It caters primarily to retirees, but rents out rooms to other travelers as well, which makes for some interesting companionship. And it’s really affordable because it’s in India (which is why the British retirees in the movie moved there). OK, it would be nice if it had a few adorable single men in residence like Bill Nighy and Richard Gere, but I’d settle for Dames like Judy Dench and Maggie Smith for schmoozability.
Then there’s glorious Jaipur, India, known as the pink city, which is its own character in the movie. It’s an enthralling historical city and the gateway to Rajisthan, India’s most flamboyant state. According to Lonely Planet, “The city’s colourful, chaotic streets ebb and flow with a heady brew of old and new. Careering buses dodge dawdling camels, leisurely cycle-rickshaws frustrate swarms of motorbikes, and everywhere buzzing autorickshaws watch for easy prey.” Lonely Planet fails to mention the country’s dreadful poverty, but hey, this is my fantasy, and I don’t want to ruin it. (I’m sure that if I were to live in India for real, my inner social worker would emerge and I’d get involved in helping the poor.)
My fantasy is not in the least bit unrealistic. In checking out places to stay in Jaipur, I discovered guesthouses that sound very much like the Marigold Hotel and are ridiculously cheap, ranging from $9 to $20 per night. There is the Shahar Palace with Peacock Gardens from $12 per night including peacocks, and Tara Niwas, which looks a little like the Marigold and offers efficiency apartments for $9 a night. They both have restaurants and are family-run.
So why isn’t one of them offering rooms for “the elderly and beautiful”?
I can’t be the only one who’s had this fantasy. If you’ve seen the movie, have you thought about finding a “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” somewhere?