What happens when the Gardens of Versailles, Alice in Wonderland and Enid Blyton books come together? The result is Raffles Udaipur. It may paint a confusing picture in your head, but this 21-acre estate on a private island in Udai Sagar Lake is nothing like it. Open to guests in August 2021, Raffles Udaipur is the latest entrant in this ‘Venice of the East’.
The sprawling property, situated on the outskirts of Udaipur, is reminiscent of a beautiful country estate, with beautifully maintained ornamental gardens and panoramic views of the surrounding Aravalli hills, the tranquil lake and a 400-year-old temple. The arrival includes a boat trip that promises sightings of some beautiful birds. As a city dweller, I was relieved to breathe the fresh air, enjoy nature and just enjoy the silence. As soon as one approaches the property, the vast expanse and opulence of the hotel draws the eye. There’s a little bit of everything here: traditional Rajasthani elements interpreted in a modern way, Gothic and European inspirations woven in a traditional way, and small details that tell their own story.
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 is headed by Abhishek Sharma, the 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 has only been six months since we opened, we already have repeat customers as this is one of the few places where there is something for everyone,” says Abhishek. For those who want to indulge their taste buds, Raffles Udaipur spawns the Sawai Kitchen. It is the Indian specialty restaurant with lost recipes from the royal households of Rajasthan reinvented to appeal to the modern taste. Led by Culinary Director Prasad Metrani, the upcoming Harvest will be the second major restaurant on the property to offer a farm-to-table interactive dining experience featuring produce from the estate’s farm, highlighting the region’s food traditions.
Not a passionate foodie, I certainly enjoy a good book and a cocktail to match. And I was able to experience that at my favorite place in the hotel, The Writers Bar. It houses more than 1,000 books and indulges guests with custom craft and classic cocktails, along with champagne and caviar. There’s also the iconic Long Bar, a Raffles hallmark, designed with European wood and leather, with carvings by local artisans. It offers fine Indian spirits, single malts, local Rajasthani brews and the signature Udaipur Sling – the Singapore classic, recreated with fresh island produce and homemade syrups. Definitely give this a try!
An ongoing effort to pamper guests, the luxury spa, fitness center and two swimming pools offer themselves. For sports enthusiasts, there are tennis and badminton courts, a cricket batting cage, croquet, putting green, bicycles and Segways. You can also walk in the hills around the property, go bird watching with some guidance from the in-house naturalist or go on safari in Bera to spot free roaming leopards. Raffles Udaipur, like any Raffles hotel around the world, reflects the cultural and natural heritage and atmosphere of the location. It offers unforgettable experiences. This should be bookmarked for your next family gathering.
All photos courtesy: Raffles Udaipur