With its more rural surroundings, this 17th-century “villa” feels decidedly more homespun compared with the renovated palace hotels in Rajasthan’s bigger cities. And with that authenticity comes some adventure. At breakfast, monkeys may appear on the terraces or rooftops of the villa. Though each of the guest rooms, 30 in total, is different, many retain original parapets and frescoes, while colonial day beds, armoires and exquisite hand-blocked fabrics have been added. (Book the sprawling and gorgeously decorated Blue Room.) Mick Jagger and Francesco Clemente were among those who have stayed and explored this area of the state. They might have been drawn by the area’s reputation as a sacred place for healers. The Shiva Temple, carved in stone on the hilltop above the hotel, has drawn mystics and monks for centuries. In part, a stay at Rawla Narlai is memorable because guests can easily walk into the village and wander without crowds, hawkers, or tourists, and observe the village daily’s rhythms and routines. Morning hikes up to the temple for a view of the countryside are highly recommended. Experienced riders will enjoy horseback safaris on the region’s famous Marwari horses. (Both Madonna and Angelina Jolie had apparently done so.) Though there is a swimming pool at the hotel, the more memorable water experience involves a candlelit dinner at a nearby step well. A few nights at this villa-style property will inject a wonderful perspective on the quieter, rural side of India that many touring Rajasthan miss. Indagare Tip: The best bedroom is the Blue Room Suite, which has cornflower blue walls and beautiful hand-blocked fabrics by Brigitte Singh.
Taj Umaid Bhawan Palace
Umaid Bhawan Palace sits like a small city, with its Beaux Arts–style facade gleaming at the center of a magnificent landscape.