“On a hilltop far away, this intimate hotel and camp within a 350-year-old fort has staggering views and offers a window into rural Rajasthan”
While it is crumbling majestically, the fort was restored stone by stone by local craftsmen and the accommodation is excellent. The suites are decorated with simple teak furniture and brightly coloured dhurries, all made in Rajasthan, but it was the little details that charmed us most, including Ayurvedic toiletries and, in winter, hot-water bottles in bed.
The 6 suites have carved sandstone pillars and dark-wood windows with expansive views of the valley. They are divided into 2 types: Luxury and Deluxe. The 2 Luxury Suites are on the second floor, each with a terrace with loungers, an outdoor bathtub and a rainshower. Inside, there's a bedroom with a four-poster bed, a sitting area with a stone fireplace and hand-woven rugs, and a huge bathroom. The 4 Deluxe Suites are on the first floor and open onto a courtyard. These have sitting areas and a shared portico, and are convenient for families or a group of friends to share.
The 6 beautifully designed tents (not available during the monsoon months of July-September) are set around the lawn area against the inner rampart walls. They are vast - some of the most spacious tents we’ve found in Rajasthan - with white cotton fabric block-printed with geese forming billowing walls and roofs. Each has a private porch with chairs, a full indoor seating area and a writing desk, as well as a double bed, side tables, lamps and everything else you could need. The bathrooms are attached and private, set in a building rather than a tent, and can be locked. They have hot water, flush toilets, tiled showers and dressing areas.
As well as your room, you have access to communal spaces stretching across the whole fort, with ramparts and parapets framing views of the plains, a wide river valley and the mountains. Sunset is a special experience, especially if you watch it from one of the daybeds on the ramparts, cocktail in hand.
All meals are included, as there are no shops, bars or restaurants nearby. They’re served outdoors on the breezy tented patio or in the dining room, an elegant area with creamy limestone pillars, woven rattan blinds and hanging lanterns. It's the main communal area in the hotel and used to be a stable block.
Breakfast is a buffet of cereals, seasonal fruits (mouth-watering mango, papaya and pomegranate in our case) and tangy homemade yoghurt. Waiters serve up fresh-pressed juices, toast and eggs to order (we had a tasty chili-flecked masala omelette).
Lunch and dinner are also buffets, though both start with a lovely soup served at your table - fresh pea and spicy tomato when we visited. These are accompanied by addictive snacks such as fried baby aubergines.
We found all the meals to be delicious and innovative - truly remarkable for such a remote spot. Of course it helps that the ingredients are locally sourced and seasonal, many of them home-grown in the hotel’s farm at the base of the fort. We particularly enjoyed the vegetarian options - smoky spiced vegetables, vibrant green tomatoes in a sweet and sour sauce, tender cauliflower florets with toasted cumin seeds. Enticing meat options might include butterfly chicken curry or minced mutton with peas, and chappati and poori breads are served piping-hot from the kitchen. Even the desserts are imaginative (beetroot halva, anyone?) and we defy you not to have seconds. Special diets can be accommodated and mealtimes are flexible, depending on when you arrive.
The clusters of comfy white chairs on the green lawn make a perfect spot for aperitifs, or you can enjoy a sundowner on the ramparts as goatherders bring their flocks back to the village for the night. Staff can even set up a table for post-dinner coffee as the stars emerge above.
Ramathra Fort is a magical place for adults, so imagine what it would be like for children. It accepts kids of all ages, and those under 10 stay for free (though note that they don't have any cots - under 2s have to sleep in a bed). You can have 1 extra child per room.
That said, it does appeal to couples, honeymooners and those seeking a quiet, back-to-nature experience, so do bear the atmosphere in mind if you want to come with children. Our kids loved exploring the turrets and ramparts, but staying here with our toddler was a little stressful due to the many stone stairways and steep drops.
All in all, we'd say it's best for older children who can sit still on a 3-hour jeep ride or who will enjoy walking around the village and valley nearby.
Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
The tents are a fun option and have plenty of space for an extra bed. The suites each have space for an extra bed, and these can be set up in the living area.
The hotel offers all-inclusive food; meals are traditional Indian except for breakfast, so you may want to arrange something in particular with the chef if you have picky eaters.
There are lots of unprotected drops here, so keep an eye on adventurous tots. It's a long drive from the airport, so bear that in mind, and there's a lake and canal that could be hazardous. It's also a long drive to medical facilities.