The evolution of Udaipur as a luxury destination has marked a place for it beyond the Golden Triangle circuit among discerning travellers. From its lakes to its hotels – it’s peculiarly non-Jaipurish and widely different from all other Indian holiday sites. Leading the hotel scene in Udaipur is the Oberoi Udaivilas, a palatial resort with pitch perfect service.
At The Outset
Onion-shaped domes, marble fountains, a foyer with miniature paintings, abundant green gardens, chattris and arched courtyards – the entire aesthetic is straight out of the pages of a book on royal architecture in India. And the beautiful backdrop of Lake Pichola and the City Palace enhance its subtly romantic environs.
No wonder that this top hotel has caught the fancy of many a filmmaker, from John Glen to Ayan Mukherji. The 50-acre property has also been a temporary residence to many celebrities on their visit to India, including Hollywood stars Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez and Dame Judi Dench.
The Oberoi Hospitality
You can take in the first view of Udaivilas from a canopied boat that takes visitors across the Lake to the hotel’s entrance. The view pretty much sets the tone for things to come. A shower of rose petals and a few welcome drinks later, one is escorted to the suite. There are 87 suites, many of which overlook the Lake and have private terraces with attached pools, and a private garden with a patio.
By day, guests can lounge around the award-winning Infinity pool or opt for the curated ‘Oberoi Experience’ – that includes a spa session with signature treatments and morning yoga with an in-house instructor. When it's time to call it a night, you can unwind in your suite, as your private Jeeves serves you dinner and drinks.
The Magnificent Kohinoor Suite
As the name suggests, it is the jewel in Udaivilas’ crown. Spread over 2,650 sq ft, the suite recreates the opulent times of the Mewar dynasty. Fresh jasmine and splendid hand-painted frescoes adorn the entrance, while silk carpets cover the pristine white marble floor. The room overlooks a private garden and features a terrace for you to gaze on iridescent peacocks and an occasional spotted deer.
The best view, however, is right inside the suite – the master bedroom. A massive four-poster mahogany bed with silk curtains is the main draw. The bathroom has an oversized tub, in the middle, for a long, aromatic bath. Other thoughtful flourishes like – a jharokha, fresh lilies by your bedside table and two marbled fireplaces – make it a class apart.
The Dining Experience
Undoubtedly, the food at Udaivilas is a gourmet smorgasbord. To start with, the Udaimahal restaurant offers the finest culinary experiences in the country. You can devour the Rajasthani laal maas and the Mirchi ki Kadhi, as Manganiar musicians play soulful folk tunes in the background.
The Suryamahal restaurant is a day-time dining space overlooking the City Palace and Lake Pichola. Adjoining it is an al fresco dining space called Chandni, with candle-lit canopied tables. The tempura prawns and the slow-roasted chicken are a must try. For those who love the ‘drink’, The Bar offers the finest cocktails in Udaipur.
Heritage and History
The Oberoi group of hotels has transformed India's hospitality scene and put the country’s heritage hotels on the world map. The founder, MS Oberoi with his son, Biki, were inspired to recreate the luxurious times of the Raj while setting up their empire. The brand with their 31 hotels has been honoured with multiple awards including the coveted ‘Asia's Leading Luxury Hotel Brand’.
Man on a Mission – Biki Oberoi
Prithviraj Singh Oberoi, popularly called Biki, is the force behind the success of the brand. His mantra, you ask? ‘To be the best’. Despite being 89-years-old, he still oversees all the properties. In fact, he is so committed, that he started the Oberoi Centre for Learning and Development to train the staff in 1966. The Padma Vibhushan awardee has been busy changing the rules of the hospitality game. And even at 89, he isn't ready to hang up his boots!