I feel your pain. A glut of information, options and opinions is the downside of popular tourist haunts. There’s a catch with being picky, and wanting the ‘best’, though: it can cost, quite literally. To start with, you’re travelling in peak tourist season, when prices are high and the likelihood of being able to bargain your way through recedes.
Pushkar has long been known as a hippie haunt, which means that there’s a surfeit of grungy backpacker hotels and few mid-range options. Relatively recently, a clutch of higher-end resorts has opened in and around Pushkar, some very good, but most pushing at your budget. The Greenhouse Resort offers plush tented accommodation, serves food made with produce from its own garden and even alcohol (it’s located just outside the ‘holy’ city limits). In-resort activities include swimming, badminton, mini-golf and the like; camel safaris and village excursions are outside options. Prices start at approx. ?7,700; see thegreenhouseresort. com. The brand-new option though is the Gateway (more correctly, The Gateway Hotel Pushkar Bypass Ajmer). A lovely, sprawling resort set at a remove from the hippie/pilgrim drag, the resort will make for a relaxing few days. Its energetic GM is happy to organise walks/treks and other outdoorsy activities. Prices here are currently at the ?6,500 mark (psst, at hotel booking sites; but see gateway.tajhotels.com).
Two recommended Jodhpur hotels in the ?3,000-4,000 range are the Krishna Prakash Heritage Haveli (heritagehoteljodhpur.com) and Mandore Guest House (mandore. com). They are very different: the former is a 115-year-old haveli, located at the foot of Mehrangarh Fort, and offering an intimate, at-the-heart-of-things experience. The latter is located on sprawling grounds about 5km from the fort, and offers commodious accommodation in ‘chalets’. Several smart hotels have come up recently in Jodhpur, but one that retains its authentic upper-class status is Rohet Garh (rohetgarh.com). The magnificent hotel is proud of its table, its horses, its village visits, its service. And, yes, it’s expensive: from approx. ?13,000.
Here’s my suggestion for you, discriminating traveller: stay two nights at one of the two resorts mentioned in Pushkar (just over your budget); stay two/ three nights at one of the two in Jodhpur (well under budget); finish it off in grand style with a night or two at Rohet Garh (you can balance your budget by keeping it to just one night). The best plan, not banal in the least.