16. Ranvas, Nagaur, Rajasthan, India
Off the beaten Rajasthani path into the Thar Desert, a 2-hour drive from Jodhpur, looms Nagaur’s massive 12th-century Ahhichatragarh Fort, a magnificent 35-acre jumble of elaborately frescoed halls, temples, graceful colonnades and Mughal pleasure gardens. And within its walls sits Ranvas, an elegant 27-room hotel spread across a cluster of 18th-century havelis, originally built for the queens of the Maharaja of Jodhpur and now carefully restored with the modern traveller in mind.
Each of the 10 lavish havelis has its own courtyard, an open-air living room and a few spacious bedrooms with ensuite marble bathrooms, rain showers and plush beds. The hotel’s common spaces are lovely, too: an open-sided dining pavilion and lounge, an air-conditioned restaurant, a central courtyard with fountains, ponds, peacocks and pomegranate trees, and a pool so inviting you can barely muster the energy to visit the enchanting palace and museum complex next door. Recline on the terrace as the sun sets, nodding as a handsome waiter in a crimson turban places another samosa by your tea cup, and watch the bougainvillea-covered walls glow pink before stars slowly fill the desert sky. You may not be a Maharaja, but a stay at Ranvas will make you feel like royalty.