Rajasthan, India

A yellow-and-white-striped palace rising from a desert hilltop, Deogarh Mahal is like something from a fairy tale. The approach, via the narrow, dusty streets of a typical Rajasthani market town, comes to an abrupt end at a gated courtyard, where the scale of the building first becomes apparent.

Multi-storey wings crowned by dozens of onion domes and cuppolas tower on all sides. Finding your room amid the interconnecting balconies and staircases feels like walking into an MC Escher painting. The interiors are positively kaleidoscopic. Everything shimmers and glints: polished metal inlays, scalloped stained glass windows, mirror-work bedspreads and picture frames encrusted with semi-precious stones.

And the views from the roof terraces, where guest dine on sumptuous Rajasthani cuisine served on silver platters, are magnificent. This is a place to day dream, but for those who feel like exploring, mountain bikes, camels, thoroughbred Merwari horses and a 1938 Chevvy wait in the wings.

Alternative accommodation is available in a wonderful luxury tent camp out in the countryside (one of the loveliest of its kind in the state), as well as an exclusive mini-lake palace, Fort Seen Sagar.

Our opinion

A charming royal residence in a bustling town, Deogarh Mahal is ideally placed for some interesting excursions including a joyride on a narrow gauge railway in the Rajsamand hills.

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