We could have hardly wished for a better introduction to Udaipur than checking-in to a hotel that showcases the rich heritage of the Mewar region in a quite so spectacular a way. Located on the banks of Lake Pichola, the Oberoi Udaivilas, is grand and sweeping and never fails to make the experience feel authentic. If you are planning on visiting Udaipur, here is a list of things you need to know before you visit the city of lakes!
As our car rolled in front of the hotel—just after sunset—we were immediately taken by the magical atmosphere. Subtly illuminated, with the domes silhouetted in the starlit night, the Oberoi Udaivilas delivered on the “wow factor” in the first minutes.
Adjoining the entrance is a large courtyard flanked by arcades, with an immense fountain feature in the center. The lotus-shaped ponds dominate the space. They are designed to impress and to introduce the main strands of the Oberoi’s design, right on arrival. The hotel’s architecture harks back to the Rajasthan’s heritage, to the era of the Mogul maharajas. But it’s a modern take on the traditional style—the Oberoi never feels old-fashioned. Surrounding the hotel are acres of immaculate gardens, peppered with centuries-old banyan trees. Peacocks, squirrels, and birds roam garden lawns. Udaivilas feels embedded in the lakeside landscape.
Our suite had access to a semi-private infinity-edge swimming pool, and a great view out over the Lake Pichola and the city. The pool was just fine for a cool swim in the heat of the day, while our small patio with loungers and a colorful parasol was a perfect spot to watch the sunset with a glass of wine. Matching the hotel’s expansive design and beautiful landscaping, the elegantly designed room had plenty of space, and was furnished with handcrafted furniture and high-quality textiles.
I absolutely loved breakfasts on the restaurant terrace, overlooking the gardens and the lake below. It was a good time to plan the day. Should we do the spa today? Definitely at least take a look. It’s building with the adjacent swimming pool is one of the most picturesque spots at Udaivilas. This is where the hotel’s design uses symmetry to a beautiful effect, as the tranquil water mirrors the tall gazebos and the spa’s facade.
Or, should we go for a boat ride? The hotel provides a free shuttle to the other side of the lake Pichola. The pretty wooden boats offer a unique vantage point from which to admire the hotel’s shapely architecture and the beauty of Udaipur. Beyond sailing, there are Udaipur’s attractions on the other side of the lake, especially the City Palace. Still home to the current Maharaja, the palace is not just a museum, but a living embodiment of history. And so is the Oberoi Udaivilas, in a way—it reflects the Mogul splendor with its own brand of contemporary luxury.
The Oberoi Udaivilas pays homage to the grandeur of India’s golden age, but with modern luxuries in mind. It captures the romance and splendor of Rajasthan, without ever coming across as dated. It’s a classy, relaxing base from which to explore Udaipur sights.
What I loved about The oberoi Udaivilas
- Nice location on the banks of Lake Pichola, looking towards the magnificent City Palace.
- An ambiance of sophisticated luxury filing the hotel’s opulent interiors.
- The hotel grounds, with fountains, cascading water, pools, and courtyards, all surrounded by the meticulously maintained gardens, in which peacocks roam free.
- Our lake view room, with patio and swimming pool access. Our all-marble bathroom, with a free-standing bathtub, exuded sheer grandeur.
- High standard of service, with a 24/7 personal butler on standby. All members of staff are very well trained and have a genuinely unpretentious attitude.
- An indulgent spa with direct access to a beautiful swimming pool. It’s an outpost of the Banyan Tree chain, which manages one of our favorite spa brands.
- Make sure to book a candle-lit private dinner under the lakeside dome for an uber-romantic time. The experience includes live sitar music as the city glows on the other side of the lake.
What you should know
- Book one of the lake view suites with access to a semi-private swimming pool, it’s worth the expense. The 116, 118 and 120 are less private (the spa pool is close by).
- We sort of wished the hotel had an outdoor bar, ideally with a lake view.
- We went to visit the City Palace by boat. The city-side jetty of the hotel is quite basic when compared to the Taj Lake Palace experience. No drinks or wet towels while we waited for the boat.
- Depending on the intensity of the previous year’s monsoon rains, the water level in the lake can be very low. The best time to visit is from October to March.
- The indoor restaurants lack character, we felt a little like in a canteen, albeit a very luxurious one. We also experienced a longish wait at lunchtime, despite almost no other guests.
- This is a no-smoking hotel, however, there are designated smoking rooms.
- Udaivilas Oberoi is some 45-minute drive from the Udaipur-Dabok Airport, while it takes about 8 hours by car from Jaipur. There is also a train from New Delhi that takes approximately 12 hours.
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