Sweeping vistas of Lake Pichola’s glittering blue waters
Four restaurants — the sweet nonalcoholic juices and mocktails are particularly addictive
Service that's attentive but not officious
The hotel has done a wonderful job of modernizing but not overrenovating; you’ll never forget you’re staying in an 18th-century palace
What To Know
The property is reached via speedboat
There’s something touchingly Old World about the hotel, which means that dressing up, while not required, feels somehow necessary (you are in a palace, after all)
Probably best to leave the kids at home: the Lake Palace is very much an adult playground
Parking on site
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Former royal hideaway turned splendorous palace hotel, right in the middle of Udaipur's famous lake
At the Taj Lake Palace Udaipur, romance is in the very bricks and mortar. Completed in 1746 as a hideaway for Prince Jagat Singh II and converted into a hotel in 1971, it’s one of those rare hotels that’s as much fun to get to as it is to stay in. A short boat trip whisks guests from the banks of Lake Pichola to the Palace’s lobby. The prince used marble the way some of us use plywood, and no matter the time of day, the structure seems to glitter from within, casting its sparkle across the lake’s deep blue water. It’s easy to feel transported back to a nobler, more glamorous era in any of the 83 guest rooms, which feature gorgeously patterned silks, four-poster beds, and butler service—not to mention every window gives a view onto the waters below. There’s not a terrific number of distractions at the Lake Palace, but that’s the charm. Scattered around the grounds are dozens of little nooks with plush cushions for whiling away a couple of afternoons reading, dozing, and simply enjoying the scenery. The pool and excellent spa are also diversions, as are the magical views at the hotel’s four restaurants. The authentic Indian cuisine at the fancy, hushed Neel Kamal is particularly good, though you might also become addicted to the brightly colored sherbets at Jharhoka.
In the Area
The area around City Palace makes for good browsing, as do the stalls and shops of Bapu Bazaar (clothing), Bada Bazaar (jewelry) and Chetak Circle (crafts); have the concierge draw you a map. Or, take a tour of the lovely City Palace Museum. It was originally built by King Udai Singh II in the 16th century, back when the city was the seat of the great Mewar Kingdom, and remained inhabited by his descendants until 1959. Check out the Manak Mahal Room on the second floor, which is pattered with colored glass, like a huge disco ball. Rajasthan is famous for its silks and shawls. For some of the best combed cashmere, head to Andraab, a boutique run by two Kashmiri brothers. The prices are high, but so is the quality (and there’s no hands-off policy here; you can try on anything). Some of the most interesting and evocative experiences in India can be had at local produce markets. Take a taxi over to Udaipur’s, where you’ll see vendors in front of mountains of green beans, peppers, eggplants, as well as stacks of bangles that can be had for just a dollar or so. You’ll also get to check out the local fauna: hardworking elephants and camels.