You walk up a ceremonial ramp to enter Samode Haveli, a former regal retreat turned heritage hotel in the heart of Jaipur.The old-school charm extends to the peaceful courtyard - a world away from the bedlam of India's 'pink city'.

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The Haveli's 39 rooms and suites, with private courtyards and balconies, look out over fountains, lawns or a Moorish-style pool, which is a prime spot for lounging on a day bed to escape the midday sun.

Decor is 'Merchant Ivory India' - mustachioed maharajas and polo-playing royals peer from sepia-hued prints on the walls. And if you feel bedraggled after an afternoon's haggling in Jaipur's bazaars, head for the hotel's tranquil Ayurvedic spa.

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WOW FACTOR: Indulge in the house classic, murgh makhani (butter chicken with a hint of fenugreek), at a candlelit table in the courtyard.

FLIGHT TIME: 10 hours

WHEN TO GO: Spring, Winter

GO: Real Holidays (www.realholidays.co.uk) offers three nights, B&B, in a deluxe suite from £1,440 per person. Includes flights and transfers.