The classic 18th-century grand palaces of Rajasthan get all the glory, but a newer noteworthy alternative is Goa's historic Fort Tiracol, on the Arabian Sea, where Santa Fe styling meets South Indian hospitality. Set on the headlands where the Tiracol River meets the sea, the 16th-century former Portuguese fort was stylishly revamped in 2002 by Hari Ajwani, a Bombay-bred heritage hotelier, and his wife, German stylist Claudia Derian. Built around a small courtyard, the property has seven airy rooms with rustic wood and wrought-iron furnishings, while the vast poured-concrete bathrooms offer possibly the most luxurious toileting experience on the subcontinent. To wit, picture windows overlook the ocean, while the bathrooms themselves are as large as bedrooms in many modern hotels across India.
The property is a good base for exploring the party-hearty beaches of northern Goa. But if you're sick of rubbing elbows with the hordes of sunbathers, Tiracol also has its very own secluded option: On Querim Beach, a private white-sand cove ringed by palm trees, my travel companion Christina and I had only sea turtles for company. But Goa isn't all about chilling. Rent a scooter and explore the winding roads of Maharashtra or head to Arambol and try paragliding off the bluffs. Don't miss the madhouse flea market each Wednesday at Anjuna, which draws merchants selling silk, crafts, and silver jewelry.
After a trip to the market, Christina and I returned to the upstairs lounge at Fort Tiracol, where we snacked on spicy grilled seafood and basked like royalty before another spectacular Arabian Sea sunset. Tiracol hasn't yet garnered the notoriety of the palaces of the northand good thing. DETAILS: Doubles from $140, including full board; best season is OctoberMay; 011-91-2236-227631, [email protected]