The Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur
What We Love
- That architecture: grand and sweeping, with expansive pavilions, turrets and domes
- That view: overlooking Lake Pichola, the City Palace on a hill and the Lake Palace
- Every detail is considered, from hand-crafted bronze doors to striking black granite tiles and hand-knotted carpets
- An utterly sybaritic spa, which has a pool overlooking the lake
- The traditional restaurant, which offers superlative versions of Indian dishes both familiar and unusual
What To Know
- Depending on the time of year and last year’s monsoon, the water level in the lake can be very low
- If you crave history, this isn’t your palace — it’s only nine years old
- The best time to visit is from October to March; the heat escalates in April, followed by the July monsoon
- One advantage to going in monsoon season: Tradition says it’s the best time to detox, so there’s a special yoga program
- There’s no smoking throughout the hotel except for specifically designated smoking rooms
- Parking On Site
As you pull up to the gate of the enormous golden stone palace that is the Oberoi Udaivilas — turrets, domes, elegant archways and expansive courtyards all on show — it’s hard to imagine a more magnificent first impression. A large central pool edged by sharp black granite and white marble squares highlights the property’s quintessential opulence, and next to the 30 acres of manicured grounds is an even more impressive body of water: Lake Pichola, with its two famous islands topped with marble palaces. Inside, the design unfolds on an equally majestic scale. The circular lobby features a gilded dome, a fountain of white Thassos marble and panels of tikri glass, a local art form in which blown glass is arranged in mosaic patterns. The nearby Candle Room pays homage to the vaunted glass room in Udaipur’s City Palace, with hundreds of thousands of glass mosaic pieces.
Bed and Bath
Intricate brass doors and 450 luminous hand-carved stone columns adorn the long corridors that lead to the guestroom wing. All the rooms and suites are decorated with local silks and hand-knotted carpets, and most have private courtyards with views of Lake Pichola, plus private or shared pools. Premier Rooms feature private walled courtyards with silk parasols, and bathrooms done in white marble with Victorian freestanding bathtubs. Kohinoor Suites have a spacious living room, a dining room with a fireplace and a 60-foot private pool that looks out at the Aravalli Hills.
In such a princely setting, you expect everything to be exceptional — and it is. At the traditional Indian restaurant, Udaimahal, guests dine on regional North Indian and Rajasthani cuisine by candlelight. Anyone craving a taste of home will be satisfied by the international fare at the ’30s-style restaurant, Suryamahal. The pampering spa has the serenity, and the imposing architecture, of a temple, along with a host of indigenous treatments, such as a rose and vetiver scrub and massages using herbal poultices. And if you want to relax after a treatment, there’s a welcoming pool flanked by cupolas overlooking the sparkling lake and palaces.
In the Area
Don’t miss a visit to the City Palace, a vast compound of four intricate palaces. The museum has an extraordinary collection of mosaics, and the Crystal Gallery showcases objects including sofas, tables and beds made of crystal. Learn to prepare classic Indian dishes in a cooking class led by one of the Udaivilas’s expert chefs. Up the romance a notch with a sunset cruise in a shikara (a Kashmiri boat built for two) on Lake Pichola. Or do some stargazing; one of Udaipur’s famous astrologers will map out your future (the hotel concierge can arrange a private appointment). Or you can get pampered with a three-hour “Spirit of Ayurveda” treatment involving two types of massage, an oil stream on the forehead and an herbal bath.