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11 Luxury hotels of Rajasthan that no one told you

Royal family secrets and campsites with the best sightings

Where does one party with Jaipur’s hip crowd? Which palace does Jodhpur’s royal family holiday at? Skip the obvious and head to the princely state’s lesser-known Luxury hotels of Rajasthan:

Nahargarh, Ranthambhore

Located just next to the national park, this Rajput-inspired hunting palace is surrounded by a 16th-century style fortress. Everything about it feels special, from the stepwell-like pool with stone carvings of elephants to the horse-saddle stools at Lancer’s Bar. With 100 palatial rooms, some with courtyards and some with terraces, this is a great setting for a wedding, while two spacious conference halls also make it a good place to conduct business. Owned by the Alsisar family, which runs a number of heritage projects in the state, the property has added a spa, which offers a variety of ayurvedic treatments. Getting there: Nahargarh is about 150km from Jaipur; contact Ranthambhore Safari & Tours (Website) for road transfers. (Website; doubles from Rs12,000)

Fateh Safari Lodge, Kumbhalgarh

Visit this family-owned boutique hotel for the stunning scenery around it. The 35-room property, built 1,100m above sea level, provides uninterrupted views of the Aravalli range, which give way to the charming village of Narlai. The constant weather changes here—it turns sunny to cloudy in a matter of minutes—only make the place that much more enchanting. While you’re there, make sure you check out the area’s famous fort and Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary, which is home to some fascinating creatures—hyenas, sloth bears, leopards, the rare chinkara and numerous birds. Night drives here are truly magical. Getting there: The lodge is about 200km from Jodhpur; contact Dilip Singh (096601 44830) for road transfers. (Website; doubles from Rs15,000 for a two-night stay)

SUJAN Rajmahal Palace, Jaipur

Belonging to the royal family of Jaipur, this 18th-century palace is one of Rajasthan’s best-loved luxury accommodation options, having hosted the likes of Queen Elizabeth and Jackie Kennedy over the years. In its modern avatar, it features pastel hues and printed wallpapers that are blended lovingly with old family heirlooms. To say that every corner here is Instagram-worthy is not an overstatement. What’s more, each room, from the Champa Room to the Kennedy Suite, has its own personality and colour palette. Enjoy a drink at the Polo Bar, eat fine European cuisine at The Oriental Occident, swim in the Art Deco style pool or get a massage at the lovely SUJÁN spa. (Website; doubles from Rs49,000)

Bal Samand Lake Palace and Garden Retreat, Jodhpur

Just 5km outside the main city, this 17th-century palace has long been a favourite spot with Jodhpur’s royal family, especially during the rainy season. And it’s really not hard to see why: sprawled across 60 acres, the red sandstone structure sits pretty above the pristine lake with which it shares its name. Pomegranate orchards and gardens make up the rest of the private estate. The rooms feature bright, colourful interiors in the warm tones that Rajasthan is known for, but with facilities like a nine-hole mini golf course, horse carriage rides and trips to sand dunes on offer, you won’t spend too much time indoors. (Website; doubles from Rs22,000)

Fort Seengh Sagar, Deogarh

While the main mahal, near Udaipur, is the grand dame that travellers have been seeking out since the 1990s, do yourself a favour and pick this mini-fortress instead. Surrounded by a lake, this four-suite property is an idyllic spot for a family holiday. Built around a courtyard with a small pond, it has a pretty garden that’s great for a siesta. Nothing about it says hotel, and it’s all the better for it. There’s also a third outpost, Deogarh Khayyams, which consists of luxe tents spread across a remote hill; guests can go on birding and village tours. Ideally, spend two nights at Seengh Sagar and one at the campsite, and visit the palace for a meal. Getting there: Fort Seengh Sagar is about 135km from Udaipur; contact the hotel (099291 72000) for road transfers. (Website; doubles from Rs8,500)

Udai Kothi, Udaipur

The sexy rooftop pool, from which you can stare out at Lake Pichola and the City Palace complex, is just one reason to check into this waterfront hotel. There’s also the fact that the 64 opulent rooms and suites have every modern amenity but are beautifully done in traditional style, complete with gorgeous jharokhas from which to look out at the beautiful property. The food at its multicuisine terrace restaurant is consistently good (unlike many places in the old city) and it is the only independent hotel whose boats are allowed into the lake. It’s also a great wedding venue—your guests can enjoy in-house folk music and dance performances, go on leisurely boat rides on Lake Pichola or relax at the spa. Plus, it is arguably the most sought-after venue for late-night wedding parties. (Website; doubles from Rs7,000)

The Green House Resort, Pushkar

Gorgeous Dutch roses growing all year round—it doesn’t sound possible in the desert state, right? But thanks to the greenhouses located on the premises of this boutique hotel, this is a reality. The hotel has a clear focus on eco-friendly practices, including a solar water-heating system and energy-efficient lamps. But don’t think this is a no-frills kind of place: the 20 tents are equipped with LCD TVs, most bathrooms have soaking tubs and the suites have private patios that look out on to the pool. Getting there: The resort is 20km from Ajmer railway station and 150km from Jaipur; contact the hotel (093510 18303) for road transfers. (Website; doubles from Rs6,000)

The Mountbatten Lodge, Ranakpur

Just four enormous villas that come with pools make up this opulent Marwar hideaway. True to its name, the lodge is a vigorous nod to colonial times; guests can expect massive English breakfasts of eggs, bacon and hash browns under the shade of a 300-year-old banyan tree (even the chefs are from old Kolkata clubs). Sip Champagne as the sun goes down, while looking out at the majestic Aravallis and ride an elephant or horse through the Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary, which is next door. Picnic lunches to Udaipur can also be organised. Getting there: It’s about 100km from Udaipur; contact Bob (099280 09602) for road transfers. (Website; doubles from Rs30,000)

Bundi Vilas, Bundi

A steep, narrow alley leads you to the 40ft stone archway that is the dramatic entrance of Bundi Vilas. Managed by the Sharma family, the magnificent structure is built on a hill against the ramparts of the town palace. Miniature paintings and Rajasthani upholstery give the interiors a traditional feel, while the delightful rooftop restaurant serves Rajasthani and European fare. Getting there: It is 200km from Jaipur and 45km from Kota railway junction; contact the hotel (0747 2446 145) for road transfers (Website; doubles from Rs6,600)

Shikarbadi Hotel, Udaipur

Owned by Maharana Arvind Singh ji Mewar, the former hunting lodge, located in a quaint part of town, has a stud farm where Marwari horses are bred. All rooms face a park where nilgai, wild boars and peacocks roam free. Smart wooden interiors and old photographs of hunts give this place a true gentleman’s club vibe. (Website; doubles from Rs7,200)

Mihir Garh, near Rohet

Owner Sidharth Rohet and his wife Rashmi had a dream. They wanted to create a sand castle that paid tribute to its heritage and location, while not compromising on comfort. The resulting Mihir Garh houses nine suites that are 1,700sq ft each, with plunge pools and fireplaces. Its interiors blend the royal with the rustic to delightful effect, such as luxurious bathtubs surrounded by mud walls and a beautiful pool that overlooks the rugged landscape. Go horseback-riding or birdwatching, explore the village and attend in-house culinary workshops, lakeside picnics and bonfire-side barbecues, which recreate some of the magic of bygone hunts. Getting there: It’s about 60km from Jodhpur; contact Shyam Singh (093516 88068) for road transfers. (Website; doubles from Rs32,000)

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