The romantic city of Udaipur is one of the most beautiful in India, and my favorite. The floating Lake Palace hotel in the middle of Lake Pihcola and the many beautiful palaces and forts make this Rajasthani city the subject of royal dreams and princess tales.
The city is so magical that is was even centrepiece to several of the movies set in India from James Bond Octopussy to the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which was based on Udaipur’s Ravala Khempur.
In a city befitted for Rajput kings and queens we could not expect less than a myriad of luxury hotels, resorts and palaces which are as dreamy as they are exclusive, here, you are spoiled for choice. These are the most luxurious and best hotels in Udaipur.
Here is a quick view of all the hotels on the list. Read on for further information.
|Name||Best for||Starting price||Book here|
|RAAS Devigarh||An 18th century palace fortress turned luxury boutique||$200||Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda|
|Oberoi Udaivilas||One of the best hotels in the world||$410||Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda|
|Shiv Niwas||A half moon palace built at the beginning of the 20th century||$410||Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda|
|Rawla Narlai||17th century rustic heritage hotel outside surrounded by nature||$90||Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda|
|Bujera Fort||An eco-friendly rural retreat and home stay||$110||Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda|
|Leela Palace Udaipur||The only modern palace hotel in Udaipur that is on Lake Pichola||$235||Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda|
|The Taj Lake Palace||To live a life of Emperors and Princesses||$325||Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda|
|Fateh Prakash Hotel||A stay with one of the most impressive crystal collections in the world||$460||Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda|
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 were all the result of a renovation carried out by an Indian interior designer before the fortress reincarnated into its new life as a luxury hotel. RAAS Hotels took over in 2016.
The Ila spa 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 impressive Aravalli Hills views and sunken white and green marble baths.
There is a large outdoor pool with expansive views and an outdoor jacuzzi to unwind. Vegetables are grown on site on a rooftop garden and the service level is top notch.
There are three room categories. The three-piece entry level Garden Suites are newly built around a garden and give the word entry level a new meaning. In the palace there are two kinds of rooms depending on their views, the Aravalli Suites facing the valley and hills and the Palace suites on the other side. These are the historical rooms and the ones i would recommend.
For a splurge: The Presidential Suite is breathtaking. Set along the top level of what was the entrance to the palace it comes with a large pool that used to be the palace’s step well, an outdoor jacuzzi, extensive gardens and village views.
Where: This luxury hotel in Udaipur is located about an hour from the airport and the magical lake city, slightly elevated above the valley and surrounded by hills and nature. A truly imposing location. It is quieter and peaceful here and since you can see all there is in the city in a day it makes for a good place to base yourself and enjoy some peace. This is also a good location from where to explore Chittorgarh, Kumbalgarh and Ranakpur.
2. 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 should be taken more as a resort than a hotel. No expense was spared to build it to resemble a royal palace from the time of colonial India with touches of East and West. Expect marvels galore, water features, lawns and even wildlife. Arrive at this luxury Udaipur hotel by boat, despite its actual location by Lake Pichola’s shore.
However, beware, unlike the other hotels in this list of best hotels in Udaipur, this one was built to measure and is not housed in a historical palace like other five star hotels such as the Lake Palace, Shiv Niwas, Fateh Prakash or RAAS Deivgarh.
What it lacks in historical importance it makes up in wow factor and attention to detail. Oberoi’s legendary service level and thoughtfulness is everywhere and romance has been taken up a few notches here so it is a perfect spot for a getaway for two or some pampering me-time.
Although Udaipur beckons just across the lake, I reckon you may be tempted to skip the sightseeing altogether and stay at the hotel for the duration of your stay, there is also to keep you occupied too so you will not even feel guilty.
For a splurge: Enjoy sunset canapes on your private boat ride on the lake, private dinners for two in the rooftop pavilion and breakfasts by your private pool. The most famous photo of the hotel is actually that of the semi-private Premier pool rooms which share a pool with the other Premier rooms and face the sunset and the City Palace, you will see why it deserves best hotel in the world status.
Where: The Oberoi Udaivilas is across the lake from the City Palace and while it has views over it, it is a bit too far to enjoy the proximity of the Taj Lake Palace Hotel. It’s location, in my opinion, is the only downside as it requires a boat or car every time you want to explore th city, while not being close enough to feel a part of it. It is more a retreat than a city hotel.
3. Shiv Niwas
Shiv Niwas is 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. Today, it is still the residence of the royal family of Udaipur and part of the hotel is closed off for its members.
The palace has been preserved and is a Grand Heritage property managed by HRH Group of Hotels which also manages Fateh Prakash Hotel and Jagmandir Palace Hotel.
There are only 36 rooms in this massive property, 17 of which are suites, and there is a huge difference between the entry level Palace rooms (to be avoided, they are more a 3 star category than a 5 star hotel) and the rest, which are set around the pool and have lake views.
Inside, suites 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. The bar has the most amazing inlay work (check out the various wild animals represented on the bottom panels from lions to African and Asian elephants or kangaroos), on walls and ceilings and has a cute upper level balcony in pink and baby blue.
The pool is surrounded by white marble and has sun loungers also made of the same material. Although I can’t think they would be very comfortable, they are as indulgent and regal as a lounger can be.
Staying at Shiv Niwas gives access to the facilities of the City Palace hotel complex (accessed from the hotel) including Fateh Prakash Crystal Gallery, which has the largest crystal collection in the world, and the Jagmandir Island Palace, the inspiration for the construction of the Taj Mahal and reachable on a boat that you can catch just outside the hotel. You can read my review of Shiv Niwas here.
For a splurge: Roger Moore stayed at the Imperial Suite during the filming of Octopussy so we think you should too. Also, they have absolutely amazing views and will make you feel like real royalty with the stunning terrace, the palatial inlay walls and the four poster beds.
Where: Along with Fateh Prakash Hotel, it is the only luxury hotel in Udaipur that gives you walking access to the City Palace and the rest of the city’s main highlights. This makes for a very practical location I highly recommend if you want to explore the city. You can then spend a couple more days at one of the other properties on the list to unwind.
4. 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 hotel outside Udaipur 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.
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.
For a splurge: The Narlai Suite is still used by the Maharajah when in town, talk about royal quarters!
Where: Located about 2.5h from Udaipur one third of the way between Udaipur and Jodhpur, this is a place not so much to base yourself for exploration of Udaipur, but to take a breather after visiting the city. It is also closer to Kumbalgarh Fort and Ranakpur so you could consider a couple of nights here on your way to Jodhpur.
5. 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 is a luxury hotel just outside Udaipur that 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. For example, the hot water is solar-powered and they collect their own rain water.
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. The hotel is also openly LGBT friendly, a telling sign of the hotel’s philosophy in a country where homosexuality is illegal.
For a splurge: The master suites have private balconies and fireplaces. Believe me, it does get cold in Udaipur at night (17 degrees in November already) and you will be able to enjoy them.
Where: 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.
6. Leela Palace Udaipur
Part of the Leela Hotel Group, an Indian hotel brand built by an army captain turned textile businessman which I stayed at in Bangalore, this is the only modern palace hotel in Udaipur that is on Lake Pichola (the Oberoi is slightly inland from it) and it has great City Palace and Lake Pichola views.
Much like the Taj on the Lake, the Leela enjoys the romantic views of the water and the City Palace’s reflection, but unlike its befitting competitor, 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.
As the hotel was built anew in 2009, 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.
For a splurge: The Duplex Suites have City Palace views (rather than just lake views) and two levels of enjoyment.
Where: Located by the lake’s edge, a short boat ride or drive away.
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, in my opinion the best hotel in Udaipur is the Taj Lake Palace.
If there was ever a building that embodied love, magic and the life of Emperors and Princesses, the Taj on the Lake is it, to me even more than the Taj Mahal.
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 Hotel 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 luxury Udaipur hotel and listen to all the anecdotes of the royal family.
Each room comes with its own private butler and there are countless magical spots through this floating marble fantasy.
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 Lake Palace 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.
For a Splurge: Staying at one of the hotel’s 66 rooms is already a splurge, but make sure it is as memorable as possible by booking one of the rooms with City Palace views. To take it up a notch, get the room that was the favorite of the Maharana, the Chandra Prakash Suite which is on a corner and has City Palace views.
Where: The hotel is in the middle of lake Pichola a mere, on-demand, 10min boat ride to the City Palace.
8. Fateh Prakash Hotel
Fateh Prakash Palace Hotel is part of the City Palace complex, adjacent to Shiv Niwas and is a heritage hotel managed by the same company, HRH Group of Hotels, which is owned by the Maharana of Udaipur.
Located closer to the water than Shiv Niwas, this hotel with only 65 rooms is partly housed in the Fateh Prakash Palace which is home of the Crystal Gallery, one of the most impressive collections in the world all manufactured to order by F&C Osler and Company (today Wilkinson). Part of the rooms are also found in a newer adjacent wing.
The hotel’s verandah restaurant is a great place to catch the sunset and enjoy a local meal. The menu here is the same as at Shiv Niwas. The staff here are caring and kind and honor the regal tradition of the palace.
For a splurge: The Dovecote Premier Lake facing suites have balconies and Lake Pichola views and are the best ones.
Where: Part of the City Palace complex, located by the lake’s edge, facing the Taj Lake Palace and right by the Lal Bagh, Bagore Ki Haveli and the boat pier. Like Shiv Niwas, this is the best location in the city, you can walk anywhere from here.
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