An opulent sandcastle built in the Indian desert has been named the most extraordinary place to stay on the planet by editors of Lonely Planet.
It's called Mihir Garh, a palatial boutique hotel built atop a sand dune dedicated to the warrior God near Jodhpur that harkens the decadent life of maharajas.
And according to editors of Lonely Planet, the mirage-like oasis takes the top spot as the most exceptional and memorable hotel experience in the world, outranking a mountain lodge in Tasmania, a spherical suite in the rainforests of British Columbia, and a treehouse in Laos.
With each of the nine suites spanning 160 sq m, the Mihir Garh also features private terraces, courtyards, plunge pools and a Jacuzzi.
The fort-like structure took two years to build and showcases the skills and talents of more than 100 area artisans and craftsmen who built the mud walls, sculpted the ramparts and fashioned fireplaces using cow dung and clay, in the local tradition.
The hotel also offers a unique equestrian program featuring Marwari horses, an ancient and indigenous breed, as well as tented al fresco picnic outings and cooking classes exploring traditional Rajasthan cuisine.
"Few hotels are created without compromise. Mihir Garh is a rare example," said contributor James Kay. "This is not just a unique place to stay, it's a shrine to the artistic and architectural traditions of Rajasthan in general and Jodhpur in particular."
Meanwhile, rounding out the top three extraordinary hotels is the Planet Baobab in Botswana, a thatched hut set in the arid moonscape of Makgadikgadi Pan, the world's largest network of salt pans; and a stay at the Torre Prendiparte in Bologna, Italy, where guests sleep in a medieval, 900-year-old, 60-meter-high tower that served as a seminary and prison before being converted into a bed and breakfast.
Here are the top 10 extraordinary hotel stays according to Lonely Planet:
1. Mihir Garh, Rajasthan, India
2. Planet Baobab, Gweta, Botswana
3. Prendiparte B&B, Bologna, Italy
4. Qasr Al Sarab, UAE
5. Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge, TAS, Australia
6. Free Spirit Spheres, British Columbia, Canada
7. Taskonak Hotel, Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey
8. Thonga Beach Lodge, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South Africa
9. Saugerties Lighthouse, New York state, USA
10. The Gibbon Experience Treehouse, Bokeo Reserve, Laos