‘Boutique hotel’ doesn’t quite capture the atmosphere of Ratan Vilas, one of our favourite family-run properties in Rajasthan. It’s certainly small – more of a guest house than a hotel. And the retro décor is a delight throughout. But what makes it really special is the heritage patina of the 1920s mansion itself, which was built in rich local sandstone at the height of the Raj. fusing Mewari and European styles. On arrival, you’re shown to a drawing room full of antiques and ancestral photos which cannot have changed much since Mountbatten was Viceroy. Mr Bharat Singh, grandson of the house’s original owner, keeps it as a homage to his late mother, and it sets the tone of the place. This is somewhere you come for an authentic taste of pre-Independence Rajasthan: breakfast is served on a sunny terrace under the frangipani trees, and dinner in a lamp-lit couryard. The service is impeccable and welcome genuinely warm. Plus there’s a generous sized pool in the garden – perfect for hot afternoons.
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