Review of The Oberoi Udaivilas, India’s best luxury hotel

Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel or flight review.

Prior to the pandemic, I enjoyed a ‘colorful’ holiday in India. You can read my trip reports here:


Today (July 29, 2020): Review of Oberoi Udaivilas (Udaipur, India).

The phenomenal Oberoi Udaivilas is spread over 50 acres on the banks of Lake Pichola, on the 200-year-old hunting grounds of the Maharana of Mewar. The resort offers unique experiences that include private lakeside dining, traditional boat rides, private cooking sessions and fun activities for children. The indoor and alfresco restaurants have lake and garden views, and serve fine international and Indian cuisine, while the spa offers signature Oberoi treatments. I recommend to opt for a suite with a private pool, or for a premier room with comes with direct access to a unique 240 ft (73 m) long semi-private pool and a bath tub with uninterrupted lake views.

The Oberoi Udaivilas features in my top 10 lists of the best luxury hotels in India, the best Oberoi hotels in the world, and hotels with the world’s most stunning swimming pools.

Have you ever stayed at Oberoi Udaivilas? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment.

In this review (more info and photos below my Youtube clip & slideshow):


PROS & THINGS I LIKE
  • Oberoi Udaivilas is located in Udaipur, India’s most romantic city and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. Founded in 1553 by Maharana Udai Singh II as the new capital of the Mewar, Udaipur is known for its picturesque lakes and often dubbed ‘the city of lakes’ or ‘Venice of the East’. The rolling hills and the beautiful lakes make a picture-perfect backdrop to the city’s historic palaces, narrow alleys, imposing forts, hidden temples, tranquil gardens, colorful fairs and lively festivals. Udaipur is easily accessible by rail, road and air from all the major cities and towns of India (including New Delhi, Mumbai and Jaipur).
  • The world-famous resort is beautifully located on the banks of Lake Pichola, on a land where the maharanas of Mewar once began their hunting trips. Although it’s possible to get to and from the resort by car, most guests arrive by a delightful boat ride across the lake towards the hotel’s domed silhouette which dominates the lake’s western skyline. Following a welcoming shower of rose petals, guests are whisked by golf cart across the sprawling resort grounds to the Oberoi Udaivilas’ main gate, whose large cusped arch has historically been used by Mewar craftsmen. The entire arrival experience is made to impress and to deliver on the “wow factor” in the first minutes of every guest’s arrival.
  • Modeled on an Indian palace, the mammoth hotel features a stunning architecture, harking back to Rajasthan’s era of the Mogul maharajas. Designed by star architect Nimish Patel, the hotel’s exterior creates the illusion of a traditional royal residential palace, featuring Mewari architectural elements such as large domes and cupolas. The entire complex is a creamy white monotone that instills a sense of overall serenity. The thick walls with cusped arch openings and niches lend the resort a vibrant and unique identity. The property is conceptualized around courtyards as they are the essence of the architecture of Mewar. The entrance courtyard – flanked by arcades and with a lotus-shaped pond at its center – is especially impressive.
  • Inspired by Moorish and Mughal design, the hotel’s opulent interiors are as impressive as its exterior. The decor is teeming with marble floors, luxurious furnishings, museum-worthy antiques, and traditional art and artifacts like paintings, swords, and shields that add a touch of local history. The interior design is at its most spectacular in the sumptuous but refined lobby, which is located under a large dome with floral painting on gold leaf that looms over a grand chandelier and a trickling fountain. From this majestic space, a maze of corridors radiate in all directions, taking guests via brass doors with spherical doorsteps to the guests room corridors lined by 450 stone columns (each carved by hand).
  • Guests are made to feel royal with a variety of accommodations. Every room has generous garden space with a patio, and some have a semiprivate, infinity-edge pool. During my stay, I was upgraded to a premier room with semi-private pool. The room was decorated with traditional Indian fabrics and featured a two poster kingsize bed, plush sofa and wooden writing desk. The marble bathroom was equipped with one sink, a shower, and a standalone bathtub. The room’s best assets were its lovely views of Lake Pichola and Udaipur’s City Palace, as well as its direct access to a 73 m (240 ft) moat-like pool that ran the entire length of each of the two hotels wings with the semi-private pool rooms.
  • The Oberoi Udaivilas’ chefs trained directly under the few surviving chefs to royalty in Rajasthan and serve terrific cuisine in the hotel’s restaurants and bars:
    • Surya Mahal is the resort’s informal all-day dining venue and serves Western and Indian cuisine under a sky blue, cloud brushed dome.
    • Chandni is the adjoining al fresco dining terrace with a sweeping view of the City Palace and Lake Pichola. At night, Chandni is a candle-lit mosaic of canopied tables filled with the sweet sound of live, traditional music.
    • Udai Mahal, the resort’s Indian fine dining restaurant, is an octagonal space edged in cusped arches. The domed ceiling, painted midnight blue with gold stars, evokes the evening sky. Temptations range from saffron linguini to prawn curry with coconut and curry leaf to the dishes of the royal kitchen, like gholiya, a stewed lamb.
    • Next to the lobby is a cozy bar, which features traditional archways and domes, naturally lit during the day and glowing in the light of glass lamps after sunset. Here, guests can relax with a fine gin, martinis, margaritas, alcoholic coffees, or frozen cocktails.
  • The resort features four beautiful swimming pools. The main pool is 27 m (89 ft) long and located in its own courtyard. This dramatic, rectangular swimming pool is rimmed with alternating squares of black-granite and white-marble steps leading down to the water. Surrounded by chic loungers and colorful sun umbrellas during the day, this pool is illuminated by flaming torches at night. Next to the spa is a second pool, which is open to adult guests only and which offers great views of the Lake Pichola. And finally, there are two moat-like pools that stretch along the wings with the semi-private pool rooms, making it possible to swim from one room to another.
  • The property is set on fifty acres of the former hunting grounds of the Maharana of Udaipur. Around twenty acres are reserved for a wildlife sanctuary with various animals like deer, wild boar, and peacocks. The flower-filled gardens roll down from the hotel’s pavilions to the lake’s tree-fringed shore. Far away from the hustle and bustle of the, it’s a pure delight to explore the gardens on foot or to relax here in the shade during the heat of the day, listening to the bird songs. The gardens are a lovely place at sunset, when guests can watch thousands of bats flying over Lake Picola and see the buildings of the old city lit up on the other side of the lake.
  • One corner of the resort features a stunning spa, which ranks among the best and most luxurious wellness facilities in the Indian subcontinent. The spa is crowned by a grand dome, lit by a spectacular chandelier and painted in traditional style to mimic a bright blue sky. Guests are caressed by the gentle sound of water cascading over a white marble fountain. The spa offers a range of signature Oberoi, Eastern and Western massage treatments that relax, revitalize and rejuvenate the mind, body and spirit. Also within the spa block is an air conditioned fitness center with cardiovascular and weights machines. Yoga classes are available.
  • The hotel is the flagship property of Oberoi, one of the world’s most exclusive hotel groups. The Oberoi story wrote its early chapters in 1934 in Shimla where Mohan Singh Oberoi pioneered the idea of luxury hospitality in India by opening his first hotel. In the following years Oberoi – assisted by his two sons – continued the expansion of his group with properties both in India and abroad. Today, the group operates 35 hotels and cruise ships in six countries under the luxury ‘Oberoi’ and five-star ‘Trident’ brand. The group still practices the hospitality philosophy that began with Mr. Oberoi himself and are now echoed by his son and current chairman Prithvi Raj Singh Obero: The guest is everything.
  • India is renowned around the world for its hospitality, but the Oberoi Udaivilas even goes beyond and delivers phenomenal service. If the luxurious setting doesn’t make you feel like royalty, the super-attentive staff – all fluent in English – surely will and they make this place truly unforgettable. Doors are magically opened, handbags carried, special treats brought to your table, and every room comes with a 24-hour butler service. Every single staff member (from room service to front desk to the concierge) smiles endlessly, is uber-friendly and unfailingly polite. I dare to say that the warm, personalized service at an Oberoi is even better than what you get at an Aman or Four Seasons property.

CONS & THINGS TO KNOW

The Oberoi Udaivilas is a spectacular resort, with a stunning setting, magnificent decor and world-class facilities. Nonetheless, when considering a stay here, you need to know the following:

  • The hotel is not located in the city itself, but on the quiet banks of Lake Pichola, a peaceful setting that will appeal to most discerning travelers. However, the hotel is not ideally located for sightseeing since every trip to the city involes a 10- to 15-minute drive.
  • Make sure to do some research prior to booking as sometimes in the dry season the water can completely disappear from Lake Pichola. The best time to visit is from October to March.
  • The entry room categories are a bit underwhelming for the price you pay. For a memorable experience, you need to book one of the lake view suites with access to a semi-private swimming pool (trust me, it’s worth the expense).
  • Although its lavish architecture is impressive, the hotel is a custom-built fake-old palace, which will be as good as or even better than the real thing for most traveler, but may put off those looking for a more authentic experience.

MY VERDICT
  • Location: 9/10
  • Design: 10/10
  • Pool: 9/10
  • Rooms: 8/10
  • Food: 8/10
  • Breakfast: 9/10
  • Spa: 9/10
  • Service: 10/10
  • Value for money: 9/10
  • Overall experience: exceptional 9/10

TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
  • Save money: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and one lunch or dinner for two).
  • Save money: read here my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like Taj Lake Palace (and/or receive many free perks).
  • Room tip: book one of the lake view suites or premier rooms with access to a semi-private swimming pool for the best hotel experience.
  • Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

The best time to visit the city of Udaipur is between the months of October and March, when the weather is warm, sunny, and dry. Increasing temperatures in April and May can result in excellent value trips, but you can expect high humidity and thunderstorms. The monsoon season starts from July and extends till September and is best avoided.


HOW TO GET THERE

The Oberoi Udaivilas is a 45 min drive from Udaipur’s Maharana Pratap Airport. Transfers can be arranged via the resort.


PHOTOS
ARRIVAL COURTYARD
ARRIVAL COURTYARD
ARRIVAL COURTYARD
oberoi udaivilas
ARRIVAL COURTYARD
ARRIVAL COURTYARD
ARRIVAL COURTYARD
ARRIVAL COURTYARD
ARRIVAL COURTYARD
oberoi udaivilas
ARRIVAL COURTYARD
ARRIVAL COURTYARD
ARRIVAL COURTYARD
oberoi udaivilas
ARRIVAL COURTYARD
ARRIVAL COURTYARD
LOBBY
LOBBY
oberoi udaivilas
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
oberoi udaivilas
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY BAR
LOBBY BAR
LOBBY BAR
CANDLE ROOM
CANDLE ROOM
GUEST ROOM FLOOR
GUEST ROOM FLOOR
PREMIER ROOM WITH SEMI-PRIVATE POOL
oberoi udaivilas
PREMIER ROOM WITH SEMI-PRIVATE POOL
PREMIER ROOM WITH SEMI-PRIVATE POOL
PREMIER ROOM WITH SEMI-PRIVATE POOL
PREMIER ROOM WITH SEMI-PRIVATE POOL
PREMIER ROOM WITH SEMI-PRIVATE POOL
PREMIER ROOM WITH SEMI-PRIVATE POOL
PREMIER ROOM WITH SEMI-PRIVATE POOL
PREMIER ROOM WITH SEMI-PRIVATE POOL
PREMIER ROOM WITH SEMI-PRIVATE POOL
PREMIER ROOM WITH SEMI-PRIVATE POOL
oberoi udaivilas
PREMIER ROOM WITH SEMI-PRIVATE POOL
PREMIER ROOM WITH SEMI-PRIVATE POOL
PREMIER ROOM WITH SEMI-PRIVATE POOL
PREMIER ROOM WITH SEMI-PRIVATE POOL
oberoi udaivilas
SWIMMING POOL ALONG THE SUITES
SWIMMING POOL ALONG THE SUITES
SWIMMING POOL ALONG THE SUITES
SWIMMING POOL ALONG THE SUITES
SWIMMING POOL ALONG THE SUITES
SWIMMING POOL ALONG THE SUITES
SWIMMING POOL ALONG THE SUITES
SWIMMING POOL ALONG THE SUITES
SWIMMING POOL ALONG THE SUITES
SWIMMING POOL ALONG THE SUITES
SWIMMING POOL ALONG THE SUITES
SWIMMING POOL ALONG THE SUITES
SWIMMING POOL ALONG THE SUITES
SWIMMING POOL ALONG THE SUITES
INNER COURTYARD
oberoi udaivilas
INNER COURTYARD
INNER COURTYARD
INNER COURTYARD
oberoi udaivilas
INNER COURTYARD
INNER COURTYARD
INNER COURTYARD
INNER COURTYARD
MAIN POOL AREA
MAIN POOL AREA
MAIN POOL AREA
oberoi udaivilas
MAIN POOL AREA
MAIN POOL AREA
MAIN POOL AREA
MAIN POOL AREA
MAIN POOL AREA
MAIN POOL AREA
MAIN POOL AREA
MAIN POOL AREA
MAIN POOL AREA
MAIN POOL AREA
MAIN POOL AREA
MAIN POOL AREA
MAIN POOL AREA
GARDENS
GARDENS
GARDENS
oberoi udaivilas
GARDENS
GARDENS
GARDENS
GARDENS
GARDENS
GARDENS
GARDENS
GARDENS
GARDENS
GARDENS
GARDENS
GARDENS
GARDENS
GARDENS
GARDENS
GARDENS
GARDENS
GARDENS
GARDENS
GARDENS
GARDENS
GARDENS
oberoi udaivilas
GARDENS
GARDENS
STAIRCASE TO RESTAURANTS
STAIRCASE TO RESTAURANTS
SURYAMAHAL RESTAURANT
SURYAMAHAL RESTAURANT
SURYAMAHAL RESTAURANT
LUNCH AT SURYAMAHAL RESTAURANT
LUNCH AT SURYAMAHAL RESTAURANT
LUNCH AT SURYAMAHAL RESTAURANT
LUNCH AT SURYAMAHAL RESTAURANT
LUNCH AT SURYAMAHAL RESTAURANT
LUNCH AT SURYAMAHAL RESTAURANT
LUNCH AT SURYAMAHAL RESTAURANT
LUNCH AT SURYAMAHAL RESTAURANT
LUNCH AT SURYAMAHAL RESTAURANT
SPA
SPA
SPA
SPA
SPA
SPA
SPA
SPA
GYM
SPA POOL
SPA POOL
SPA POOL
SPA POOL
SPA POOL
SPA POOL
SPA POOL
SPA POOL
SUNSET
SUNSET
THE OBEROI UDAIVILAS AT NIGHT
THE OBEROI UDAIVILAS AT NIGHT
THE OBEROI UDAIVILAS AT NIGHT
THE OBEROI UDAIVILAS AT NIGHT
THE OBEROI UDAIVILAS AT NIGHT
THE OBEROI UDAIVILAS AT NIGHT
THE OBEROI UDAIVILAS AT NIGHT
THE OBEROI UDAIVILAS AT NIGHT
THE OBEROI UDAIVILAS AT NIGHT
THE OBEROI UDAIVILAS AT NIGHT
THE OBEROI UDAIVILAS AT NIGHT
THE OBEROI UDAIVILAS AT NIGHT
THE OBEROI UDAIVILAS AT NIGHT
THE OBEROI UDAIVILAS AT NIGHT
THE OBEROI UDAIVILAS AT NIGHT
THE OBEROI UDAIVILAS AT NIGHT
THE OBEROI UDAIVILAS AT NIGHT
THE OBEROI UDAIVILAS AT NIGHT
THE OBEROI UDAIVILAS AT NIGHT
THE OBEROI UDAIVILAS AT NIGHT
DINNER AT CHANDNI RESTAURANT
DINNER AT CHANDNI RESTAURANT
DINNER AT CHANDNI RESTAURANT
DINNER AT CHANDNI RESTAURANT
DINNER AT CHANDNI RESTAURANT
DINNER AT CHANDNI RESTAURANT
DINNER AT CHANDNI RESTAURANT
DINNER AT CHANDNI RESTAURANT
DINNER AT CHANDNI RESTAURANT
UDAIMAHAL RESTAURANT
UDAIMAHAL RESTAURANT
UDAIMAHAL RESTAURANT
UDAIMAHAL RESTAURANT
UDAIMAHAL RESTAURANT
THE OBEROI UDAIVILAS IN THE MORNING LIGHT
THE OBEROI UDAIVILAS IN THE MORNING LIGHT
THE OBEROI UDAIVILAS IN THE MORNING LIGHT
THE OBEROI UDAIVILAS IN THE MORNING LIGHT
THE OBEROI UDAIVILAS IN THE MORNING LIGHT
THE OBEROI UDAIVILAS IN THE MORNING LIGHT
THE OBEROI UDAIVILAS IN THE MORNING LIGHT
THE OBEROI UDAIVILAS IN THE MORNING LIGHT
THE OBEROI UDAIVILAS IN THE MORNING LIGHT
BREAKFAST AT SURYAMAHAL RESTAURANT
BREAKFAST AT SURYAMAHAL RESTAURANT
BREAKFAST AT SURYAMAHAL RESTAURANT
BREAKFAST AT SURYAMAHAL RESTAURANT
BREAKFAST AT SURYAMAHAL RESTAURANT
BREAKFAST AT SURYAMAHAL RESTAURANT
BREAKFAST AT SURYAMAHAL RESTAURANT
BREAKFAST AT SURYAMAHAL RESTAURANT
BREAKFAST AT SURYAMAHAL RESTAURANT
BREAKFAST AT SURYAMAHAL RESTAURANT
BREAKFAST AT SURYAMAHAL RESTAURANT
BREAKFAST AT SURYAMAHAL RESTAURANT
BREAKFAST AT SURYAMAHAL RESTAURANT
BREAKFAST AT SURYAMAHAL RESTAURANT
BREAKFAST AT SURYAMAHAL RESTAURANT
BREAKFAST AT SURYAMAHAL RESTAURANT
BREAKFAST AT SURYAMAHAL RESTAURANT
BREAKFAST AT SURYAMAHAL RESTAURANT
BREAKFAST AT SURYAMAHAL RESTAURANT
BREAKFAST AT SURYAMAHAL RESTAURANT
BREAKFAST AT SURYAMAHAL RESTAURANT
BREAKFAST AT SURYAMAHAL RESTAURANT

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Source: The Luxury Travel Expert
Review of The Oberoi Udaivilas, India’s best luxury hotel

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