Nagaur, Jodhpur, India Book from

Reviewed by Kate Darnton
Ten 18th-century havelis tucked within the walls of Nagaur’s magnificent fort, now restored as a romantic heritage hotel
Off the beaten Rajasthani path into the Thar Desert, a 2-hour drive from Jodhpur, looms Nagaur’s massive 12th-century Ahhichatragarh Fort, a magnificent 35-acre jumble of elaborately frescoed halls, temples, graceful colonnades and Mughal pleasure gardens. And within its walls sits Ranvas, an elegant 27-room hotel spread across a cluster of 18th-century havelis, originally built for the queens of the Maharaja of Jodhpur and now carefully restored with the modern traveller in mind.

Each of the 10 lavish havelis has its own courtyard, an open-air living room and a few spacious bedrooms with ensuite marble bathrooms, rain showers and plush beds. The hotel’s common spaces are lovely, too: an open-sided dining pavilion and lounge, an air-conditioned restaurant, a central courtyard with fountains, ponds, peacocks and pomegranate trees, and a pool so inviting you can barely muster the energy to visit the enchanting palace and museum complex next door. Recline on the terrace as the sun sets, nodding as a handsome waiter in a crimson turban places another samosa by your tea cup, and watch the bougainvillea-covered walls glow pink before stars slowly fill the desert sky. You may not be a Maharaja, but a stay at Ranvas will make you feel like royalty.


  • Beautiful rooms, all with sitting areas and traditional Rajasthani touches like colourful prints and hammered brass; the suites have private terraces, too
  • Only 3 or so guest rooms per haveli, creating an intimate feel. If the hotel isn't full, you might even get an entire building to yourselves
  • Impossibly romantic alfresco dinners, staged in candlelit courtyards or on terraces overlooking the fort
  • Camel, horse or Jeep safaris into the Thar Desert, then high tea amongst the sand dunes
  • The neighbouring palace and museum, currently undergoing a fascinating restoration. Guests get a complimentary guided tour, and every February it’s the setting for a renowned Sufi music festival


  • The entire stay must be paid for 60 days in advance - although it is largely refundable in the event of cancellation
  • Nagaur is a remote desert town, with few attractions outside the fort walls
  • The hotel opened in 2010 but still feels like a work in progress. The planned spa remains unfinished, and service is friendly and attentive but at times confused
  • Some rooms are dark, and the standard Deluxe Queen Rooms can feel a little cramped. There are no twin beds and only one room - a Royal Suite - has a TV
  • With its open staircases, terraces and unfenced pool, it’s not the most toddler-friendly place - though children of all ages are welcome. Extra beds are available, but there are no baby cots

Best time to go

Ranvas sits in the Thar Desert and is best visited between October and early April, when the days are clear and warm and the nights cool, although bear in mind that evenings can be chilly in December, January and February. It can get extremely hot between May and September, and the hotel often closes for a couple of months in June and July. If you can, it’s worth timing your visit to catch the eye-popping Nagaur Cattle Fair in December and January, with its dizzying array of decorated desert animals and local crafts, or the lovely World Sufi Spirit Festival in February.

Our top tips

There are some fascinating and little-visited sites within striking distance of Ranvas. Bikaner, with its magnificent 16th-century Junagarh Fort, is a 2-hour drive, as is Mandawa, a charming town in the Shekhawati region that’s famous for its sprawling havelis, covered from floor to ceiling in exuberant frescoes. Staff at Ranvas can advise on day trips and transport.

Great for...

  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 27
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service


The 34 bedrooms are divided among the charming havelis, meaning you might get the luxury of your own private villa if the hotel isn’t full. Each haveli has a large communal courtyard with loungers, plus an open-air living room with daybeds and bolster cushions; ours even had a plunge pool.

The bedrooms themselves are white-washed, with high ceilings creating an airy grandeur. As expected of such historic structures, walls are very thick, meaning interiors can be a bit dark, but most rooms have French doors that allow additional natural light. And the wooden lamps inside are beautiful, with oversized tulip-shaped shades that cast a gentle glow. The décor is tasteful, incorporating traditional Rajasthani touches (block prints and hammered brass) into modern forms. The bulbous wooden feet on our carved furniture echoed those of traditional Indian charpoys, and the cotton dhurries had snappy geometric patterns. All rooms have a couple of chunky lounge chairs or cushioned daybeds, and antique sculptures from the Maharaja of Jodhpur’s personal collection sit in artsy, spot-lit alcoves.

The smallest Deluxe Queen Rooms are rather cramped, so we’d recommend paying a bit more for one of the larger Deluxe King Rooms. Bigger still are the Royal Suites on the top floor of each haveli, which have more natural light, intricate stone arches and private terraces; one - the current Maharaja’s favourite - has a TV.

With their foot-thick mattresses and soft linens, the beds are heavenly. And bathrooms are beautiful, with marble sinks (double in some suites), handsome brass fixtures and Kama Ayurveda toiletries (though, curiously, no hair conditioner). The bathing set-up - an enormous copper bucket, wooden stool and copper pitcher - might flummox Western guests, but have no fear: you can push these aside and unleash the power of the rain shower instead.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Phone
  • Plunge pool
  • Safe box
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi


Ranvas serves a mix of European and Indian food throughout the day. We preferred the latter, particularly the fresh masala omelettes and chai at breakfast and the thalis at lunch and dinner. Other delicious delights included a crunchy smoked Kachumber salad packed with flavourful onions and tomatoes, junglee maas (mutton with red chilli) and rabori kanda (a Rajasthani dish of stuffed maize with a sweet onion sauce).

Some may find the Western dishes - perhaps vegetable pasta or roast chicken in a mushroom sauce - a little heavy on the salt, although we thought the French fries were irresistible. We also enjoyed the scrumptuous apple cake turned out by the on-site bakery; less so the rather uninspired cookies and lumpy dinner rolls. Don’t expect imported European cheeses or fresh jams if you opt for a Western dish - local and jarred varieties are the mainstay here.

Ranvas has 2 main dining areas - an open-sided pavilion with elegant columns and arches, and an air-conditioned restaurant where you can retreat if it gets too hot. But why restrict yourself when you have an entire fort at your disposal? One magical night, we dined in a courtyard in the semi-restored palace, surrounded by 700 oil lamps. At the end of the meal, the staff slipped away quietly, leaving us to digest our food while swaying on an antique Rajasthani jhula (swinging chair). Another evening, we were treated to high tea on the palace rooftop, where we watched a family of peacocks strutting through the Mughal gardens below as we sipped chai and nibbled on sandwiches. Room service is also available if you'd prefer to eat in your haveli.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Private dining
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Activity: Palace and museum complex


  • Take a complimentary, personalised tour of the neighbouring palace and museum complex - considered one of the finest examples of Rajput-Mughal architecture in the region - and learn about the enormous challenges of restoring its elaborate frescoes, water systems, walls and gardens, many of which had fallen into ruin
  • Hike the perimeter of the 12th-century fort’s magnificent ramparts, peering down onto the busy streets of Nagaur below
  • Venture into Nagaur itself to wander around the local market and visit the Muslim dargah (shrine)
  • Go for a jeep safari through the sand dunes of the Thar, and break for high tea under the desert sky
  • Horse and camel safaris can also be arranged - just ask staff
  • Catch a camel race, pick out a pet buffalo and enjoy a traditional Rajasthani puppet show at the Nagaur Cattle Fair (December-January), rival to the famous Pushkar Camel Fair
  • Or sway to the music at the renowned World Sufi Spirit Festival in February; Ranvas often lays on luxury tents for the occasion (enquire when booking)

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Camel safaris
  • Festivals
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Museums / galleries
  • Private guided tours
  • Safaris
  • Shopping / markets
  • Traditional cultures


Ranvas welcomes children of all ages, although we feel it’s better suited to kids over 4. There are no cots, high chairs or baby monitors, and the steep, winding staircases, high terraces and unfenced pool would make a stay here stressful for parents with toddlers on the loose.

That said, our family had a lovely time here. Rollaway beds can be added to the Deluxe King Rooms and the Royal Suites, and the staff are extremely friendly, even producing a ball for our children to bat around. Our kids also enjoyed exploring the fort, where they met a camel and were invited to bang the drums at the local Krishna temple. The Indian food at Ranvas is not particularly child-friendly, but there are enough chicken nuggets, pasta options and fries on the Western menu to please younger palates.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Extra Beds Available

Kid Friendly:

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