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Rajasthan Hotels

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Amanbagh
Ajabgarh
India
Tel: 91 1465 223 333
Tel: 800 477 9180
amanbagh@amanresorts.com
www.amanbagh.com

The 40-room Amanbagh resort serves as an excellent example that hotels other than Oberoi can do "new palace" architecture well. One of two Amanresorts properties in the region (the other is Aman-i-Khás), it oozes excellence. Good luck finding stand-alone bathtubs carved from single blocks of dark-green Udaipur marble anywhere else—standard in all of Amanbagh's rooms. The indulgence extends to the North Indian–inspired cuisine—you'll gorge on yogurt and sesame seed–crusted kebabs, perhaps, or murg kalongi, chicken with ginger and onion seeds. Still, our favorite thing might just be its rural location, allowing for a chance to see the "real India." Two hours by car north of Jaipur, Amanbagh sits in a narrow, fertile valley, ideal for organized forays into the countryside and nearby villages. Smart guests will head out in the late afternoon, at "cow dust" hour, when locals are herding livestock on farm roads yet are not so busy that they can't smile, and wave, and perhaps even invite you to stop in for a cup of tea.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Aman-i-Khás
Ranthambhore National Park
India
Tel: 91 7462 252 052
Aman-i-khas@amanresorts.com
www.amanresorts.com/khas/home.htm

A luxury-tent encampment just outside Ranthambhore National Park, Aman-i-Khás is in fact more camplike than its nearby competitor, Oberoi Vanyavilas. After all, the interior walls of your tent are actually made of cotton. Nonetheless, in this world of rarefied luxury, that still means cushy king-size beds and deep soaking tubs in the attached bathroom. Overall, though, guests here will have a better experience of being in nature, as the camp isn't encircled by walls but is simply situated next to the tall grasses and brushy trees of the dry forest. What makes Aman-i-Khás truly special is its size: With only ten guest tents, it is the smallest of India's top-end resorts (and also of the ultraexclusive Amanresorts properties). Smaller is better, as it allows for more personal pampering. There is a dining tent, for instance, but you can eat just about anywhere you want and order pretty much what you want, too (besides, of course, beef). Pampering is something the Aman-i-Khás staff have to be expert at—after a long day, possibly without any tiger sighting, they may have to explain to hot, tired guests why the step-well/dipping pool isn't really big enough to swim in. To minimize that possibility, the resort is open only from October through April, when game viewing is at its best.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Devi Garh
Delwara
India
Tel: 91 2953 289 211
devigarh@deviresorts.com
www.deviresorts.in/devigarh/

On the outside, Devi Garh, with its towering walls of yellow sandstone and multitude of turrets, looks every bit the desert fortress it was when built in the 1760s. Inside, though, are 39 contemporary white-on-white suites that would seem at home in South Beach. Of the palace suites, each with its own eccentricities of shape and decor, our favorite has a freestanding, entirely wall-less shower that offers spectacular views of the Aravalli Hills. As with Amanbagh, which is north of Jaipur, one of the draws of Devi Garh's location—30 minutes outside of Udaipur—is its rural feel. We suggest going out and exploring: The hotel happily organizes day trips. And once you've been to the restaurant a time or two, stake a claim to one of the many public, but secluded, nooks and crannies for the most romantic private dining this side of the Taj Mahal.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Fateh Garh
Sisarma
Udaipur , Rajasthan
India
Tel: 91 294 3290228
fatehgarh.in

Until now the best places to stay in Udaipur have been the princely piles on Lake Pichola's shores or its fairy-tale island palace. Fateh Garh offers something different: "Heritage Renaissance" style. Perched on a hilltop 20 minutes outside the city, this newly constructed 51-room hotel incorporates local stone and antique architectural elements culled from abandoned historic buildings. A confection of bulbous domes, sugar-white pillars, crenellations, and intricate jali screens, it escapes the kitschy through its graceful proportions and airy reception areas, courtyard, and verandas—all of which are graced with antiques and delicate frescoes inspired by the style of Rajput miniatures. Lie by the infinity pool, listening to the sound of splashing fountains mingling with live classical shehnai music. The hotel kitchen does best with local Mewari dishes, which are a welcome change from standard Indian hotel fare.

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Hotel Bissau Palace
Chandpole Gate
Jaipur , Rajasthan
India 302016
Tel: 91 44 141 230 4371
bissau@sancharnet.in
www.bissaupalace.com

Accommodations in Jaipur's Old City are thin on the ground, which makes the Bissau Palace, situated just outside the Chandpole Gate and within walking distance of the city's major sights, all the more welcome an option. The Muslim quarter has a bustling market lined with meat stalls, and though it's not for the fainthearted, it provides an exhilarating slice of everyday life in the Old City. By contrast, the verdant grounds of this 51-room hotel just beyond its gates are a haven of peace set within a slightly faded heritage property. Don't assume the higher-priced larger rooms are best; some of the cheaper ones are not only excellent value, but in many cases they are more aesthetically pleasing. Guests less disposed to sleeping under the frozen stare of a stuffed tiger's head or within firing distance of a wall-mounted bayonet might also be a little picky about exactly which quarters to opt for. As a rule, choose a room closest to the reception area, since they appear to be the freshest off the renovation list, with lively murals and heavy wooden furniture. Ground-floor rooms tend to be cooler than the higher ones during the hot season. A plus of this property is the popular lounging area around the pool. A downside is the breakfast buffet, which will leave you wishing you ordered à la carte.—Vanessa Able

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Hotel Shahpura House
D-257 Devi Marg
Bani Park
Jaipur , Rajasthan
India 302016
Tel: 91 141 220 2292/3
info@shahpurahouse.com
www.shahpurahouse.com

This highly ornate heritage-style hotel with latticed terraces and canopied archways is located in Jaipur's quiet Bani Park residential district in a former 1950s family house. The 38 rooms range from simple doubles to Royal suites (several of which have small, private terraces). But we suggest you opt for one of the eight Shahpura suites, on the top floor, which have large, modern bathrooms and a fresher, minimal take on the heavy wooden furniture and embroidered velvet bed coverings in the older rooms. A swimming pool is situated in the small outdoor garden, and the inner courtyard has a colossal chandelier, mirror-tiled ceilings, and a series of colorful murals painted in the Shekhawati style. Dinner on the hotel's roof is served up alongside the spectacle of live traditional Rajasthani music and dancing.—Vanessa Able

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Jai Mahal Palace
Jacob Road, Civil Lines
Jaipur
India
Tel: 91 141 222 3636
jaimahal.jaipur@tajhotels.com
www.tajhotels.com/Leisure/Jai Mahal Palace,JAIPUR/default.htm

The cream-and-pink former palace of a local aristocrat is set on 18 acres of landscaped gardens. "Its history enhanced the luxe ambience and the feeling that we were guests of royalty." Rooms with Rajasthani decor have miniature paintings and "a marble bathroom with a bathtub in the middle—something you remember for a long time." Cinnamon prepares Punjabi specialties.

(100 rooms)

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Jaiwana Haveli
14 Lal Ghat
Udaipur , Rajasthan
India 313001
Tel: 91 294 241 1103
info@jaiwanahaveli.com
www.jaiwanahaveli.com

The next best thing to having a room at the Taj Lake Palace is having a view of that hotel and surrounding Lake Pichola from the shore—and for a price that won't break the bank. The Jaiwana Haveli is a great option if you're traveling on a shoestring but still want to be in the thick of things. Close to Lal Ghat, the 24-room hotel is in a brand-new building that nonetheless has all the architectural flourishes of an old haveli. The rooms are simple and clean, with AC, Wi-Fi, and flat-screen televisions. The higher up you get, the better the views of the lake are, and some of the corner rooms even have little alcove balconies. Be sure to book well in advance, as the hotel fills up quickly, especially during high season. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served at the rooftop restaurant, and the hotel's ever helpful owner provides an excellent concierge service.—Vanessa Able

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Karohi Haveli
Outside Chandpole
Udaipur , Rajasthan
India 313001
Tel: 91 294 320 6638
reservation@karohihaveli.com
www.karohihaveli.com

Tucked away at the top of Lake Pichola, the Karohi Haveli is a 200-year-old traditional home that has been converted into a hotel by its namesake family, which excels at making guests feel welcome. Its position, on a small hill just a couple of minutes outside the bustle of the tourist center, makes it one of Udaipur's more tranquil accommodations. Out front is a manicured lawn (which you might end up sharing with the odd monkey) that looks onto a corner of the lake. A fountain stands as the centerpiece of the inner courtyard, which is surrounded by 26 rooms and suites on three levels. The prize rooms are the corner ones facing Lake Pichola and the City Palace, which have cushioned alcoves, draped saris, and little stained-glass windows. All rooms have AC for the summer months, and don't be shy about asking for a heater during the chilly winter evenings. A buffet breakfast is included in the price and is served on the hotel's rooftop terrace.—Vanessa Able

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Khem Villas
Ranthambhore National Park
India
Tel: 91 07462 252099
khemvillas.com

At the entrance to Ranthambhore National Park—famous for its tigers and tenth-century fort—this all-inclusive 15-unit camp on ten acres delivers a truly authentic safari experience. You'll meet an interesting international crowd, as well as Delhi's movers and shakers, over evening cocktails by the private lake or at organic vegetarian meals taken family style in classic game lodge fashion (ask for an Indian menu—the Western dishes aren't always successful). The experience is sybaritic too, as the main lodge is furnished in stunning Rajasthani style, with Anokhi hand-block printed quilts and cushions adding gorgeous colors. There are rooms within the lodge as well as tents, and six luxe thatched-roof cottages come with a massive stone tub in a private courtyard, illuminated by candles in rose petal–strewn bowls. Evening game drives, jolting about on pitted roads, bring you close to wild boar, sloth bears, and alligators as well as the park's famed leopards and tigers.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Leela Palace Kempinski Udaipur
Lake Pichola
Udaipur
India 313 001
Tel: 91 29 4670 1234
reservations.udaipur@theleela.com
www.theleela.com/hotel-udaipur.html

The newly built Leela is even more flamboyantly domed and landscaped than the 20-acre Oberoi Udaivillas, its rival faux-palace hotel on the shores of Lake Pichola. The high-ceilinged reception rooms with silver settees and the dazzlingly tiled open courtyard with a wall of water are gorgeously evocative of Mogul style, as are the canopied dining terrace with reflecting pools and the pool and tented spa areas. The 72 rooms are comparatively simple, furnished in dark wood, with beige and pewter silks, and marigold-colored armchairs and pillows; there are also eight suites. Breakfast and meals of both Western and Asian styles are served in the Dining Room; the place to be in the evening is Sheesh Mahal, which serves refined local cuisine by the lake with an utterly romantic view. You'll not lack for service, be it from the butler hovering near your door or the thoughtful pool attendant. Your comfort is less assured when reaching the hotel by boat—turnaround time is a half hour, which can make for a chilly wait in the early morning or the evening. Road access through the city is even slower.

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Mandir Palace Hotel
Amar Sagar Gate
Jaisalmer , Rajasthan
India 345001
Tel: 91 299 225 2788
info@mandirpalace.com
www.mandirpalace.com

If you want to stay in a real Rajasthani palace without having to pay a king's ransom, then look no further than the Mandir Palace, tucked into the edge of Jaisalmer's Old City next to a small temple and a horse stable. The 26-room property is a maze of wings connected by corridors that open onto beautiful courtyards and terraces, and is still partly inhabited by Maharaja Hukam Singh, a descendant of the family that originally constructed the building more than 200 years ago. The intricate carving that appears throughout the property, from latticed stone screens to decorative arches, is one of the hotel's most impressive features. The cheaper rooms are clean but bland, so if you can stretch your budget, or if low-season vacancies throw a bargain your way, opt for a suite such as the 1914 Surya Mahal suite: Almost covered in intricate stone carvings, the room is divided by a series of decorative arches separating the bed from the living room area, and there is a striking terrace with carved arches and columns. The swimming pool is hidden away at the back of the hotel (unfortunately, it doubles as a drinking hole for a population of local pigeons). Be sure to visit the roof terrace to catch a terrific view of the Jaisalmer Fort at sunset.—Vanessa Able

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Mihirgarh
PWD Road
Jodhpur
India 324 001
Tel: 91 291 2431161
info@rohetgarh.com/rohethouse@dataone.in
www.mihirgarh.com

Like an intricate sand castle rising out of semi-desert wilderness 45 minutes south of Jodhpur, this architectural gem was built as a labor of love out of mud and lathe work by the owners of the neighboring acclaimed heritage haveli, Rohetgarh. Mihirgahr is ingeniously crafted to provide each of the nine huge guest suites (over 1,700 square feet each) with private views and outside space. There are also alluring common areas: three courtyards with splashing fountains, several lounges and bars, a public terrace perfect for watching sunsets, an infinity pool, and a Jacuzzi atop a turret. The rooms and common areas are furnished imaginatively and colorfully using Rajasthani antiques, carved wood, and embroidered and mirrored fabrics. Fireplaces, created by local women, glitter with mirror work. International cuisine is on offer here, but the local dishes outclass what's found at most other Indian five-star hotels. At the end of a bumpy country road, Mihirgahr is ideal for those who wish to be away from it all while feeling like guests at a country house. There are even horseback safaris and jeep visits to local villages that include one to an opium ceremony in which you can participate.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Oberoi Rajvilas
Goner Road
Jaipur
India
Tel: 91 141 268 0101
Reservations@oberoi-rajvilas.com
www.oberoirajvilas.com/index.asp?leftinfo=1&leftit

The 71-room Rajvilas was the first of India's newly built modern luxury hotels, and it was so revolutionary when it opened in 1997 that less than a year later, it was featured on the cover of Architectural Digest. Although it has 13 very popular air-conditioned tents spread among its 32 walled acres, the focus of its style might best be called postmodern Rajasthani fort. The use of traditional materials and building techniques creates the appearance of a pink-walled citadel, yet one incorporating decidedly contemporary touches such as glass-walled bathrooms that look out onto private gardens. The rooms, all with four-poster beds and sunken white tubs, are in clusters of four to six around serene courtyards. Rajvilas is just five miles outside of Jaipur, close enough that you can easily dip into the anarchy of the city, perhaps to shop for gems or to see the Palace of Winds. But the sanctuarylike setting mostly encourages happy, slow hours among the gardens, decorative pools, and fountains. Take a novel to the main pool, preferably one large enough to cover your face while you nap. Or dine alfresco in the courtyard of the resort's Surya Mahal restaurant, perhaps on vegetarian kebabs as penance for indulging in the far-too-available Indian sweets. Or wander to the spa and give yourself over to an ayurvedic massage treatment. Chances are, none will disappoint.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Oberoi Udaivilas
Haridasji Ki Magri
Udaipur
India
Tel: 91 294 243 3300
reservations@oberoi-udaivilas.com
www.oberoiudaivilas.com

If you've got the audacity to build a hotel within sight of the Taj Lake Palace, you'd better come up with something spectacular. And that's just what P.R.S. Oberoi (Biki, to his friends) did in 2002 when he built the 90-room Udaivilas. With its toadstool-like profusion of turrets and cupolas, hand-sculpted columns and graceful arches, and pale gold exterior—all set in a soft green landscape that rises above the shore of the lake—this may be one of Rajasthan's best examples of contemporary Indian architecture. The domed lobby, with its white marble fountain, and the spa, which looks like a temple, are so beautiful they belong in a museum. (After a day on jarring Indian roads, you'll appreciate the spa for other reasons.) Set on 30 acres, Udaivilas's grounds and rooms have a more spacious feel than those of its famous neighbor just across the water (of which, one suspects not by accident, there are few good views).

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Oberoi Vanyavilas
Ranthambore Road
Sawai Madhopur
India
Tel: 91 746 222 3999
gm@oberoi-vanyavilas.com
www.oberoivanyavilas.com

What more fitting way to begin a quest for tigers in Ranthambhore National Park than to step from the folds of a tent? "Tent," though, is such a modest word, even when it's also called "luxury," as is the case with the 25 tents at Vanyavilas. Three and a half hours east of Jaipur by car, and just outside the park boundaries, these are actually permanent, immovable accommodations inside a walled compound that also shelters more solid structures, such as the grandiose dining room. The tents are air-conditioned and have polished hardwood floors, four-poster king-size beds, and freestanding bathtubs inside the attached oversize bathrooms. And should the quest for tigers prove fruitless? The ever-attentive staff will commiserate, suggesting a dip in the pool, or, if you've had enough of the great outdoors for the day, a drink or game of billiards in the Library Bar before moving on to the dining room, its walls hung with hand-painted frescoes, to debate the merits of guinea fowl versus mutton curry.

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Pal Haveli
Gulab Sagar
Jodhpur , Rajasthan
India 342001
Tel: 91 291 329 3328
info@palhaveli.com
www.palhaveli.com

Though located next to the Clock Tower and Sadar Bazaar, the Pal Haveli has high walls that insulate it from Jodhpur's bustling historical center. Enter through a grand triple archway of impressive latticework into the quiet courtyard of this family-run hotel, which is one of the best mid-range options in the city. Dating back more than two centuries, the building has its own museum that features, among other treasures, a 460-year-old portrait of the goddess Chamunda, an antique palanquin carriage, and a gilded hindola (swing). Most of the 21 rooms are decorated in the elaborate haveli style with antique furniture; ask to look around before you choose a room, since some are a bit sparse, with upholstery in need of an update. The rooftop restaurant, Indique, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, is one of the best in town and has views over the Clock Tower, the nearby Gulab Sagar, and the Mehrangarh Fort.—Vanessa Able

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Pushkar Palace
Chhoti Basti
Pushkar , Rajasthan
India 305022
Tel: 91 145 277 3001
info@pushkarpalace.com
www.hotelpushkarpalace.com/pp.htm

The Pushkar Palace is a 48-room, five-suite hotel located right on the lake, with fantastic views. The guest rooms, with tiled floors, four-poster beds, and antique furniture, are in need of a spruce-up, even though it's considered the best accommodation in town. While the hotel can feel a bit abandoned off-season, during the annual camel fair, it's the place to be and prices triple to reflect that. Booking ahead is essential, as is producing printed confirmation of your reservation when you check in.—Updated by Vanessa Able

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Raas
Near Tunvarji ka Jhalra
Makrana Mohalla
Umaid Chowk
Jodhpur
India 342 001
Tel: 91 291 2632207
reservations@raasjodhpur.com
raasjodhpur.com

It's a challenge to get to Raas through the confusion of old Jodhpur's narrow, congested streets. You at last reach an unprepossessing door in a cement facade that opens onto a leafy courtyard and a modern structure housing 39 guest rooms and suites. Through the alchemy of inspired design, the bold lines of this new building blend harmoniously with the elegant remnants of the eighteenth-century haveli (courtier's palace) on whose grounds it is sited. Through minimalist decor, the accommodations make adroit use of space, texture, and pattern (including pink sandstone lattice screens that, recalling traditional jalis, bring shade and privacy), which compensates for the fairly modest size of the rooms and bathrooms, with handsome tubs set in stone. Room terraces offer not just a view, but grand theater: In the foreground, a swimming pool with gauzy-curtained cabanas is set in a garden, and reflecting pools lead up to a graceful old pavilion, now the dining room. To your left, an ancient structure accommodates pillowed seating alcoves. And as the dramatic backdrop looms the Maharajah of Jodhpur's massive pink sandstone Mehrangahr Fort. The quality of the cuisine, with both Indian and international offerings, can be uneven, and the calls to prayer from the minaret next door can be jarringly loud. Mercifully, double glazing and the hum of the air-conditioning silences the 4 a.m. loudspeaker crackle.

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Ranvas
Gandhi Chowk
Nagaur , Rajasthan
India 341001
Tel: 91 11 4603 5500
holidays@welcomheritagehotels.com
www.jodhanaheritage.com/ranvas.html

This heritage hotel opened by the Maharaja of Jodhpur consists of the zenana (women's quarters) of the Garden Palace that dwells within the giant Nagaur Fort complex two hours north of Jodhpur. Ranvas's 33 rooms inhabit the ten havelis (residences built around courtyards) where the maharaja's queens lived in the eighteenth century. The zenana's restoration and decoration have been completed with scholarly care and exquisite taste. Subtle lighting enhances the carvings, sculptures, and traditional design—scalloped archways, delicate latticework, colonnaded courtyards. In guest rooms, fine antique beds and furniture are accented with perfectly chosen fabrics and accessories, while intelligent works of art and Sufi poetry line the bed stand. However, this is not a place for those unwilling to embrace simplicity—rooms lack TVs, phones, and tubs. Guests are encouraged to bathe Indian-style (seated on a stool, using a water-filled pitcher), though bathrooms do come with showers. Service is sensitively unobtrusive, as at dinner, when refined versions of North Indian dishes—including heavenly light vegetable pakoras—are served in the pillared baradari (pavilion) overlooking a swimming pool screened by pomegranate bushes. The lighting of innumerable candles and lanterns all over the property creates a fantastical setting.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Reggie's Camel Camp Osian
Osian , Rajasthan
India
Tel: 91 291 243 7023
info@indiasafariclub.com
www.indiasafariclub.com/camelcamp.htm

About an hour outside of Jodhpur is the desert pit-stop town of Osian, where Reggie's Camel Camp, a hotel comprised of 30 furnished luxury tent rooms, sits perched on top of a sand dune on the quieter side of the railway tracks. Nestled inside its protective compound walls is a desert-oasis-cum-colonial-hunting-lodge, complete with mod cons as well as relics from Raj era Anglo-Indian hunting expeditions. The camel racing track at the front of the hotel and the relaxing pool area at the back accentuate the surreal juxtaposition of worlds. Forget the hardships of camping: These tents have electricity, comfortable beds, and en-suite bathrooms with running hot water. The prize accommodations are the ones built into the mud huts just outside the walls of the camp, which have small private terraces overlooking the dunes. Nightly prices include three meals, an hour-long camel ride just outside the grounds, and a music and dance show in the evening. Reggie and his team of talented PR ambassadors do sterling work in providing a personalized experience for guests, and you're likely to end up feeling like one of the family after a couple of days, especially after one late-night cognac too many.—Vanessa Able

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
The Serai
Bherwa
Chandan
near Jaisalmer
India 345 001
Tel: 91 11 4606 7608
Tel: 91 11 4616 3718
reservations@sujanluxury.com
sujanluxury.com

A 45-minute drive from Jaisalmer's beautiful pink-sandstone fort city, The Serai features 21 grand campaign-style tents tightly arrayed in rows like a colonial encampment amid scrubby, featureless terrain. Each 1,100-square-foot suite is pitched on a raised stone base, with its own enclosed veranda, in-room seating, and a bathroom with a walk-in shower but no tub. A heater, towel warmer, and hot-water bottles keep you cozy in the desert's chilly night, although other typical basics are oddly absent from the elegantly spare accommodations: A hair dryer has to be requested, as well as the services of a staffer to whisk one's valuables away for safekeeping. Guests while away the time by taking a sunset camel ride over the sand dunes on the far side of Jaisalmer accompanied by a hamper of sundowners. Afternoon tea and drinks are served in the Library Bar Tent, and come nightfall, drinks and snacks materialize around a fire where local musicians serenade. Served in the Dining Tent, organic produce grown on the grounds yields a light international menu providing relief to a traveler's overtaxed digestion. (The more durable will enjoy the well-prepared rich and spicy Indian dishes.)

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Seventh Heaven Inn
Next to the Mali Ka Mandir
Choti Basti
Pushkar , Rajasthan
India 305022
Tel: 91 145 510 5455
anoop_loves_you@yahoo.co.in
www.inn-seventh-heaven.com

Most of Pushkar's lodging options reflect the town's status as a major draw for pilgrims and backpackers, and there has been little inspiration for the kind of mid-range converted haveli hotels that are plentiful in Rajasthan's other tourist towns. However, the Seventh Heaven Inn is an exception. This simple, four-story hotel is located in a century-old traditional building centered around a verdant courtyard. The rooftop Sixth Sense restaurant also happens to be the best in town, and a laid-back travelers' sanctum complete with board games, books, and a giant wooden swing is a good spot to kick back in. The hotel's 12 rooms are simply furnished, clean, and excellent value for money. The higher up they are, the larger they are. Not all have AC or heating, so be sure to check before selecting a room. Booking ahead is definitely recommended, and you'll have to do so through the hotel's Web site, which annoyingly insists on PayPal and a minimum two-night stay.—Vanessa Able

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Taj Lake Palace
Pichola Lake
Udaipur
India
Tel: 91 294 252 8800
Tel: 866 969 1825
lakepalace.udaipur@tajhotels.com
www.tajhotels.com

One of the most photographed hotels in India, the 83-room Taj Lake Palace rises from a rock foundation within the green waters of Udaipur's Pichola Lake. The 250-year-old former palace, one of India's best heritage hotels, is built of polished white marble, but as seen from the shore of the lake, it looks like a painted ship upon a painted ocean. Guests arrive in grand fashion aboard a shiny, polished hotel launch with a scalloped sun canopy. (Make an even grander entrance by rolling up to the boat in the hotel's chauffeured vintage car, on call for airport and train station pickups.) The Taj Lake Palace's unique location doesn't limit guest activities: There's a pool, a spa, and all manner of shore excursions, from shopping for Udaipur's famous miniature paintings to horseback riding in the Aravalli Hills. For romantic lake dining, opt for a private dinner on a pontoon platform anchored some distance off the hotel (that way you can enjoy the views of the hotel, too). When choosing your accommodation, enhance the feeling of being at sea by opting for an outside room, facing the city. Even the smallest, trimmed in natural wood, are reminiscent of the glory days of the P&O steamers.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Taj Rambagh Palace
Bhawani Singh Road
Jaipur
India
Tel: 91 141 221 1919
Tel: 866 969 1825
rambagh.jaipur@tajhotels.com
www.tajhotels.com

An eye of calm nearly at the center of the whirlwind that is the city of Jaipur, this 172-year-old palace was the first in Rajasthan to be converted (in 1957) to a heritage hotel. While the family of the Maharaja of Jaipur still owns it (the Queen Mother lives in private quarters in a separate property at the back), the Taj Group has managed the 85-room hotel since 1972. A variety of room styles reflect its long history of continuing renovations. The best rooms, on the second floor, feature high ceilings and wood floors, with views of the gardens, but even the more ordinary rooms are palatial in size, at more than 500 square feet. Bathrooms are a bit decadent, with black marble, chrome, and glass in some rooms—they may be too discordantly modern for some tastes, however. In a former palace, you want your decadence to have a more historical feel, as it does in the Prince's Suite, where two long-legged metal birds daintily drink from a tiled fountain in the living room. The public areas are satisfying grand, especially the ballroom-size lobby (don't try any dance steps on the slippery marble floor…) and the expanse of green lawn one can admire while sipping afternoon tea. Oh, and in that photo in the Polo Bar, of a couple of ladies having a laugh at Jaipur's royal polo grounds? That's Mrs. Jackie Kennedy.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Umaid Bhawan Palace
Jodhpur
India
Tel: 91 291 251 0101
Tel: 866 969 1825
ubpresv.jodh@tajhotels.com
www.tajhotels.com

If your invitation to overnight at Buckingham Palace has not been forthcoming, take solace that the welcome mat is always out at this equally royal residence. (Well, not quite equally, as royal titles were officially done away with in India in the 1970s.) While 64 of the Umaid Bhawan Palace's 347 rooms are now given over to hotel guests, it is still home to the Maharaja of Jodhpur, who, it seems useful to know, has dogs named Gimlet, Tia Maria, and Pepsi yipping about the property. The largest and most recently constructed of Rajasthan's palaces, the Umaid Bhawan was completed in 1944, with a golden sandstone exterior in a style sometimes called Indo Deco. It's been a hotel since 1972 and recently became part of the Taj Group, which added an outdoor pool (there was already one indoors), and upgraded the rooms with new fabrics and furnishings, including the requisite flat-screen televisions, while retaining the bold patterns and colors of the Art Deco style. Among the grander rooms is the Maharaja Suite, with murals depicting leopards, tigers, and the Jodhpur sport of pigsticking. This does raise the question, "Where does the Maharaja sleep?" For an answer, follow the sound of the dogs.

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