British administrator James Tod described this as “the most romantic spot on the continent of India”. Udaipur is the capital of Mewar, Rajasthan, home to grand palaces, ornate temples, manicured gardens and serene man-made lakes. Founded in the 16th century on the Girwa Valley, it was dubbed “the Venice of the east”, attracting royalty and VIPs from across the land (hence it contains more than its fair share of palatial residences). If you’re not a fan of humidity, we recommend travelling here during late autumn through to early spring, when it’s pleasantly warm and ideal for sightseeing.
The Oberoi Udaivilas
The nearby palaces and traditional Mewari architecture served as the inspiration for Nimish Patel, as she designed this grand lakeside property from scratch. It spans 50 acres teeming with birdlife, featuring pastel-coloured and gilt domed pavilions housing 87 rooms, a spa and several restaurants. The decor provides an old-world elegance, while staff offer an attentive first-class service with personalised and lavish attention to detail. Dine alfresco by candlelight beside a lily pond, relax next to your private plunge pool beneath a mustard-hue fringed parasol, book some Ayurvedic treatments, take a yoga class and spend some time reading in the library.
Taj Lake Palace
Right in the middle of Lake Pichola, this palace was built back in the mid-18th century, as the summer residence for the royal dynasty of Mewar. By the middle of the last century, the Taj Lake Palace was accepting paying guests and was featured in the James Bond movie, Octopussy. But its regal atmosphere and level of service never left, with 24/7 butler service and a water taxi available whenever you want it. Additionally, there are four restaurants, a rooftop bar, a pool, a spa and 360-degree water views. This hotel is certainly something very special and exudes classic romance.
The Leela Palace Udaipur
If you prefer a more contemporary vibe, book one of 80 soundproofed rooms here. You’ll enjoy direct lake views with the Aravalli Mountains in the background. Dine on the terrace of the main restaurant, choosing from a menu of international cuisine, with a glass of something from its walk-in wine cellar; tuck into Indian food overlooking the lake; and cosy up beside the fire as you listen to live Rajasthani folk music in the bar. The Leela Palace’s other amenities include a spa, an outdoor pool and a gym. It first opened in April 2009, part of a small luxe chain of resorts and has become especially popular with business travellers.
Taj Fateh Prakash Palace
On the eastern side of the lake and a short walk from the City Palace Museum, the Taj Fateh Prakash Palace dates back to the 19th century and is itself something of a museum. It opened under its current guise on the 1st of January 2020, with 65 glamorous heritage rooms and suites. The polished hotel boasts an enviable art collection, a 1000 kilogram central crystal chandelier and the award-winning Sunset Terrace restaurant where you can catch some live music. There’s also a spa, a pool and a bar to be enjoyed onsite.