I feel somewhat embarrassed to admit that after living in India for just over two years I have only just taken my first trip outside of Mumbai. David and I decided to leave the Maximum City over the Diwali break and after convincing recommendations from a few friends; we booked a 3-night stay at the Oberoi Udavilas in Udaipur. Here is my hotel review following our stay in November.
Udaipur is located in the state of Rajasthan, about 762 km from Mumbai (or a 1 hour 20 minute plane journey). We flew with Jet Airways and prearranged with the hotel for a car transfer from the airport to The Oberoi Udavilas. As soon as we stepped outside the airport a friendly gentleman showed us to a very comfy BMW, offered us a cold towel, bottled water, and gave us the ‘menu’ of music we could listen to on our journey. Throughout the 40-minute drive our chauffeur gave us a detailed description of all the places we were passing and the areas history. After the relaxing drive we transferred to a boat to complete the 15-minute journey to our hotel. Arriving by boat, and at sunrise, was a beautiful way to begin our relaxing vacation.
Udaipur has been the setting for a few Hollywood blockbusters. The James Bond movie Octapussy used the building that is now the Taj hotel for the Indian hideaway of the villain/heroin and the streets by the Temple for the chase scene. The Exotic Marigold Hotel also used the streets by the Temple and Palace as a setting and for any younger readers, The Cheetah Girls movie used various Udaipur locations . Local vendors proudly display many celebrities photos on their walls; we noticed Julia Roberts, Beyonce, Judi Dench and Roger Moore.
The Oberoi staff aim to ensure that all guests feel as special as possible. Our driver took our bags directly to our room leaving us free to take in the beautiful setting of the hotel. After disembarking from the boat we were ushered into a golf cart to be driven the short distance to the hotels main entrance. Lots of welcomes and salutes greeted us along the way. The Oberoi have a special way of greeting new guests as they enter the hotel for the first time, but I wont spoil the surprise, as it is quite sweet.
No check in counter is needed as our guide asked if we would like a tour of the hotel or to simply go to our room. We did a little of both, but as David was still suffering from the deadly ‘man cold’ we were soon delighted to be shown to our room where our guide then completed the necessary check in paperwork. I must admit it was so nice to not have to stand in the main reception area to complete the task.
There are a few options for rooms at the Oberoi but we had selected a Premier room with semi private pool. Now I will say that the room was delightful, very well appointed but my idea of semi private is obviously very different from the Oberoi’s. We had the end room of a 10 room set that overlooked the lake BUT that meant that we were right next to the walkway to the main pool and spa area (a busy foot traffic route). Just one room along would have made the world of difference. Sitting on our deck was no more private than sitting around the main pool, quite disappointing for the additional cost. It was also a little disconcerting on the few occasions when someone decided to swim the ‘semi-private pool’ as then they were right in front of you.
If you read my blog regularly (and I hope you do) you will know that the bathroom is always a big factor for me and this one did not disappoint; an abundance of white marble, claw foot tub, vanity mirror and table, shower cubicle, and separate toilet area – just perfect.
We had prearranged for a couple of touristy events during our stay, but had also built in time to relax, and for some pampering. Located next to the main swimming pool is the spa, complete with a fitness center, and hair salon. While David managed to use the workout room a couple of times, we both thoroughly enjoyed a number of relaxing massages, facials, and pedicures. Suites much like the one we were staying in are used as treatment rooms. The luxurious and very private treatment rooms had steam rooms for you to enjoy before and/or after your treatments.
There are a few options for dining at The Oberoi Udavilas. On our first day we enjoyed an early lunch at the Suryamahal, the inside section of the restaurant. The design of this restaurant means that some tables are nestled in their own alcove and have a wonderful view over the lake and outside dining area. We noticed that most of the table set for two all had the worst views, being further inside the restaurant, but as we were the only diners we were given a larger table.
The outside part of this restaurant is called the Chandni and I would recommend that you book for dinner to ensure you can enjoy the al-fresco dining experience. There is a small stage area and on the evening that we enjoyed a meal there was a show that included music and ladies dancing with various pots and fire balanced on their head.
There is a bar located in the main building where we enjoyed evening cocktails. Although we were told that the hotel was almost full, it was really only the bar area that ever seemed to feel busy.
We enjoyed room service on a few occasions, as when we are on vacation we just love to relax in private. One lovely touch that I should mention – after our day of sightseeing we called to see if the hotel had a copy of the James Bond movie Octapussy (filmed in Udaipur, and more on the blog soon) After a short while the dvd was delivered to our room together with a bag of hot popcorn for us to enjoy – we were very impressed by this lovely touch.
One other dining option I should mention is the afternoon tea on the lake but that’s a tease really as I will give you all the glorious details about that fun adventure in a blog post soon.
There is much to love about this hotel, and yet I feel it also has its limitations. Something that caught my attention is their tipping policy, they actually discourage guests to individually tip staff, preferring instead for satisfied customers to deposit a tip at the end of their vacation to be shared amongst staff members.
From speaking to some of the other guests it would seem that many were stopping in Udaipur as part of a much larger travel itinerary usually including Agra, Delhi, Jaipur etc. As such most people we saw only stayed 1 or 2 nights and I think for that it is a perfect option. Our room rate of $500 per night made this one of the more expensive hotels that we have stayed in, and by comparison I feel it did not do so well. Food and drinks prices were quite high and the poor design of this fairly new hotel meant that food and drinks ordered at the main pool necessitated the poor server to run a long distance to the main building.
As many flights arrive at sunrise a two night stay means that you can pack a lot into your time in Udaipur. While we enjoyed our relaxing 3-night stay, I could have flown to my favorite destination in the world, the Maldives, or had 4 or morel nights at the Park Hyatt Tokyo for the same cost so sadly I fail to see how this hotel gives good value for money.
When we stayed: November 2015
Address: Mulla Talai, Haridasji Ki Magri, Udaipur, Rajasthan 313001, India
Phone: +91 294 243 3300