When staying far from home, the colonial rulers of Asia demanded a certain level of luxury. Today, the colonies are gone, but the extravagant hotels constructed by the empire builders remain, many set in converted palaces or the elegant private dwellings of former governors. Some, like Raffles in Singapore or the Strand in Yangon, have become tourist attractions in their own right. Others offer opulent seclusion, and a glimpse of what life was like for kings, governors and ambassadors. In India, the colonial period saw the rise of a legion of maharajas - rulers of their own autonomous princely states - whose outrageous palaces now house some of Asia's most extravagant hotels. One thing to consider however: heritage often comes with a princely price tag. If you just want to see how the other half live, pull up a bar stool in the hotel bar.