After seven years' hard labour, a dramatic, 230-year-old Rajasthani fortress starts a new life as a five-star hotel, the Alila Fort Bishangarh.
Perfectly positioned on India's Golden Triangle of Delhi-Jaipur-Agra, the hilltop hotel is an hour north of Jaipur on the Jaipur-Delhi road. It offers the requisite comforts of a glossy hotel – rooftop bar, luxurious spa, infinity pool – but don't expect frills and tizz: this is a former outpost against invading hordes from the north.
The 59 suites are housed in the nine-storey fort, replete with turrets, secret escape routes and a dungeon (happily, now the Spa Alila). The reception is an open-air tent – think: military field headquarters – at the base of the hill. You can stretch your legs for the walk, or wait 30 seconds for a Jeep to whip you up the ramp.
The fortress is edged by the sleepy village of Bishangarh, with trees full of peacocks, a resident bull at the main crossroad and local women in obligingly bright saris of pink and orange.
The hotel group, which has three Bali properties including Alila Seminyak, encourages guests to pop into the local school, visit weavers in their homes and try your hand at creating Rajasthani cuisine on one of its Alila experiences.
Or you could just take another dip in the infinity pool between spa treatments and order more chaat (Indian savoury snacks) and another pot of India's signature masala chai. A Heritage suite costs from $US280 plus taxes. See alilahotels.com/fortbishangarh
Belinda Jackson was a guest of the hotel.