Rajasthan, India

Arriving at Udai Bilas is like stepping into a 1930s time warp. Ensconced amid leafy waterside gardens, the palace is separated from the town by a shimmering lake. Views over the water are enjoyed by most of the rooms, whose décor combines the exoticism and opulence of Rajput India with shabby-chic furniture and bathrooms of a kind you’d expect to find in a 19th-century English country house (down to the claw-foot tubs).

The elderly Maharawal still lives in an upstairs apartment, which adds to the authenticity of the place, and maintains his grandfather’s impressive vintage car collection in a stable block where guests are offered drinks before dinner. The real pièce de résistance here, though, is the inlaid white-marble “water table” where turbaned waiters in mock military uniforms serve meals – a matchless photo opportunity.

Our opinion

A waterfront heritage hotel ideal for some quiet R&R and bird watching.

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