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The romantic city of Udaipur is one of the most beautiful in India. Pichola Lake, the floating marble palace in the middle and the many beautiful palaces and forts make this Rajasthani city a trip down to the time of royalty. In a city befitted for kings, queens and emperors we could not expect less than a myriad of luxury hotels, resorts and palaces which are the subject of dreams. These are the best luxury hotels in Udaipur.
1. RAAS Devigarh
Touted by Conde Nast as “India’s most beautiful spa”, this is an 18th century palace fortress turned luxury boutique hotel over a 15 year restoration that matched its former glory. Gold, local marble, semi-precious stones, pale hues and an Ila spa that proposes wellness retreats in the most amazing of settings to realign the chakras using locally grown ingredients from across India. The restaurant and some of the suites have Aravalli Hills views and sunken marble baths. Vegetables are grown on site. The hotel is located about an hour from the airport and the magical lake city of Udaipur, slightly elevated above the valley and surrounded by hills and nature. A truly imposing location.
Photo: RAAS Devigarh
Rates starting at US$200. Check more photos and latest availability here.
2. Oberoi Udaivilas
Photo: Oberoi Udaivilas
The Oberoi Udaivilas is consistently ranked among the best hotels in the world, taking the number 1 spot on Travel + Leisure magazine list twice, so you know it comes with a solid cache. You only need to look at the photos to realise it will be a stay fit for royalty. The hotel is massive and no expense was spared to build it to resemble a royal palace. The most famous photo of the hotel is actually that of the Premier room which shares a pool with the other Premier rooms and faces the sunset. Oberoi’s service level and details are everywhere and romance has been taken up a few notches here. You can have sunset canapes onboard a boat on the lake, private dinners for two in the rooftop pavilion and breakfasts by your private pool. Although Udaipur beckons, I reckon you may be tempted to skip the sightseeing altogether and stay at the hotel for the duration of your stay.
Expect marvels galore, water features, lawns and even wildlife. Arrive at the hotel by boat, despite its actual location by Lake Pichola’s shore.
Rates starting at US$410. Check more photos and latest availability here.
3. Shiv Niwas
Photo: Shiv Niwas
A half moon palace built at the beginning of the 20th century and used to host dignitaries and personalities of the House of Mewar exclusively. It has been preserved and today is considered a Grand Heritage Palace with 36 rooms 17 of which are suites. Roger Moore stayed at the Imperial Suite during the filming of Octopussy. The hotel is managed by the HRH Group of Hotels which manages other regal properties in heritage buildings. It is in town, so the hotel is walking distance from the sights, in case you want to battle the Indian streets.
Inside, the rooms conserve their original furniture and also the portraits and paintings of the royal family so you will feel as if you are staying at the house of a (very rich) friend. Staying here also gives access to the facilities of the City Palace hotel complex including the Fateh Prakash Palace which is a few minutes away and has the largest crystal collection in the world, and the Jagmandir Island Palace which is said to have been the inspiration for the construction of the Taj Mahal.
Rates starting at US$410. Check more photos and latest availability here.
4. Rawla Narlai
Photo: Rawla Narlai
Once a hunting lodge and one of the Jagir Villages of Jodhpur’s Royal family, Rawla Narlai is a 17th century stunning rustic heritage property surrounded by nature, the Aravalli Hills and a grand granite rock called Elephant Hill. It is one of the places where one wonders what it would be if walls could speak.
Still owned by the Jodhpur royal family, Rawla Narlai has a mixture of heritage rooms restored from their former splendor and decorated with antique pieces and a group of luxury tents around a pool. The entry level rooms have hand painted murals on the walls while the top Luxury Grand Heritage Rooms have white marble carved works. The Narlai Suite is still used by the Maharajah when in town, talk about royal quarters! But perhaps the most incredible of experiences is enjoying a romantic meal in the 16th century step-well of Narlai, surrounded by oil lamps and complete with a regal Rajasthani meal. Narlai’s location in the countryside also affords opportunities to enjoy tea by the lake or a horse riding adventure. If you are lucky you may spot a leopard on a safari around the area. The lodge is about 2,5h drive both from Udaipur and Jodhpur so city tours can also be organised.
Rates starting at US$90. Check more photos and latest availability here.
5. Bujera Fort
Photo: Bujera Fort
An eco-friendly rural retreat and home stay where you can enjoy total seclusion and privacy and as much service as you like. The hotel is a new structure, built from scratch, as a series of columns surrounding a tiled pool and green gardens. Bujera Fort prides itself in offering farm to table food, with most of the produce grown within 20 miles of the hotel, and being as eco-friendly as possible. The furniture, windows and doors are mostly salvaged from the area and the philosophy is that of little intervention. A British couple opened this getaway in 2015 and managed to bring a bit of the English countryside with them while offering a very “British”, unassuming and friendly setting without the formalities of other regal outfits.
Udaipur is about half an hour away so all excursions to the City Palace and main sights can be easily organised while evenings are as peaceful as an Indian rural village can be.
Rates starting at US$110. Check more photos and latest availability here.
6. Leela Palace Udaipur
Photo: Leela Palace Udaipur
This is the only modern palace hotel in Udaipur that is on Lake Pichola. Much like the Oberoi Udaivilas and the Taj on the Lake, the Leela enjoys the romantic views of the water and the City Palace’s reflection, but unlike its befitting competitors, the Leela stays true to its modernity and offers a 21st century take on royal life with a hotel constructed to resemble a Rajasthani palace and lake palace views from all the rooms. As the hotel was built anew, rather than transformed from a former palace, it was made to be exactly perfect. There are dining enclaves all over the hotel and details that show great service and thoughtfulness. A great game of make believe.
Rates starting at US$235. Check more photos and latest availability here.
7. The Taj Lake Palace
This island palace on the lake was a former pleasure palace known as Jag Niwas and is the epitome of romance and fairytale fantasies. If there was a ever a building that embodied love, magic and the life of Emperors and Princesses, the Taj on the Lake is it. A floating mirage of white marble, this 18th century former residence of the Maharana Jagat Singh II was restored in 1963 and was the set of the James Bond film Octopussy. The palace started accepting guests in the 1960s under the ownership of the Maharana and was transferred to the Taj Group in 1971.
It all starts with a glamorous arrival in a vintage car to the pier followed by a boat ride on the lake that will take you to the palace where a member of the staff will greet you with a refreshment and an embroidered umbrella to protect you from the sun, just like royalty used to arrive. For that extra special experience, take a guided walk of the premises and hear all the anecdotes of the royal family. There are sunset boat tours, floating spa treatments on the water, rose petal baths, dinners under the stars with views of the City Palace anywhere you like, the Taj on the Lake is the subject of dreamy weddings and unforgettable honeymoons. You can count on experienced Taj Hotels Group to handle the service end to end with a set of assigned butlers ready to fulfill all your wishes.
Rates starting at US$325. Check more photos and latest availability here.