What happens when Gardens of Versailles, Alice in Wonderland and Enid Blyton’s books come together? The result is Raffles Udaipur. It may paint a confusing picture in one’s mind, but this 21-acre property on a private island in Udai Sagar Lake is nothing like that. Opened for guests in August 2021, Raffles Udaipur is the newest entrant in this ‘Venice of the East.’
Located on the outskirts of Udaipur, the expansive property is reminiscent of a magnificent country estate, with beautifully manicured, ornamental gardens and panoramic views of the surrounding Aravalli hills, the tranquil lake and a 400 year-old temple. The arrival involves a boat ride that promises sightings of some exquisite birds. A city-dweller to the boot, I was relieved to breathe the fresh air, soak in the nature and simply enjoy the silence. As soon as one gets to the property, the sheer expanse and opulence of the hotel draws attention. There is a little bit of everything here—Rajasthani traditional elements interpreted in a modern way, Gothic and European inspirations weaved in a traditional way, and minute details that narrate a story of their own.
The hotel is an architectural marvel with 101 luxurious rooms, suites and signature suites that elegantly interweave western cultural references with Rajasthan’s royal heritage and elements of Mughal architecture. The rooms also promise uninterrupted lake views, balconies, plunge pools and private gardens.
The property runs under the leadership of Abhishek Sharma, its General Manager. “The pandemic has taught us the value of our loved ones and the idea of this hotel is to celebrate and cherish that. Even though it’s been only six months since our opening, we already have repeat customers as this is one of the very few places that has something for everyone,” Abhishek shares. For those in the wonderful pursuit of indulging their taste buds, Raffles Udaipur brings forth the Sawai Kitchen. It’s the Indian specialty restaurant with lost recipes from Rajasthan’s royal households, reinvented to appeal to modern tastes. Under culinary director Prasad Metrani’s guidance, the upcoming Harvest will be the second major restaurant on the property that will offer an interactive farm-to-table dining experience with produce foraged from the estate farm, spotlighting the region’s food traditions.
Not a passionate foodie, I definitely enjoy a good book and a complementing cocktail. And I got to experience this at my favourite place in the hotel, The Writers Bar. It houses 1,000+ books and indulges guests in bespoke artisanal and classic cocktails, along with champagne and caviar. There’s also the iconic Long Bar, a hallmark of Raffles, designed with European wood and leather, with engravings by local artisans. It offers fine Indian spirits, single malts, local Rajasthani brews and the signature Udaipur Sling—the Singapore classic remade with fresh produce from the island and home-made syrups. Make sure you try this!
A continued attempt to pamper guests offers itself as the luxurious spa, a fitness center and two swimming pools. For sports fans, there are tennis and badminton courts, a cricket batting cage, a croquet, a golf putting green, bicycles and Segways. One can also hike in the hills around the property, sight birds with some guidance from the in-house naturalist or go to a safari in Bera to spot free-roaming leopards. Raffles Udaipur, like every Raffles hotel around the world, reflects the cultural and natural heritage, and the mood of its location. It offers unforgettable experiences. This one has to be bookmarked for your next family gathering.
All photographs courtesy: Raffles Udaipur