Checking in at the Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur is simply magical. A once in a life time experience. The fact that you can sleep in a Maharana’s summer palace in the middle of Lake Pichola is just crazy!
When I travelled to Udaipur in December last year, I was gazing over the lake at that beautiful floating hotel and I said to myself “when my contract is over in India, I’m going to stay there no matter how much it costs me”. So, now that my contract as an expat in India was coming to a close in June, I did just that.
So, fast forward to my last weekend in India. I’m riding in the royal transfer boat to one of the top hotels in the world with last nights make up on, vomit in my hair, hardly a wink of sleep and stressed after missing my original flight from Delhi. It wasn’t exactly the entrance I was expecting to make! How you ask? I’ll let you know.
It was my last Friday night in India and naturally, I wanted to go out with a bang. My work colleagues and I decided to go out in Sector 29, Gurgaon. My flight was at 7am the next morning. I decided, to be safe, that my Cinderella time would be midnight. But it didn’t quite happen like that.
As I was moving my whole house out of India, had been a low key insomniac for a week due to the stress of packing up my life here and been running around like a headless chicken. I may have got a teensy bit too drunk on champagne and it went to my head.
I woke up with a start to a massive bang on my door; ‘Sophie! Sophie!’ You know that feeling when it suddenly hits you that you’ve not set an alarm and wake up with 40 minutes before your flight is due to take off? No? Well, I tell you it’s not pretty.
I leap out of bed and answer the door. Look down and it seems I had been sick. Yum. My colleague said, “you’ve overslept…. and you’ve been sick”. How embarrassing. *Groan and face palm*
Hoping by some miracle that my flight would be delayed, I sprung into slightly still drunk action and grabbed my case I packed the night before. Threw on new clothes, brushed my teeth and asked my taxi to drive as fast as lightning to Delhi airport. As I was staying at the Taj Lake Palace, I would have sold my very soul to make it there!
I get to the domestic terminal at the airport. My flight’s already taken off and I have to get another flight out of Delhi in 5 hours. So, I had to make camp in T1 looking like a dog turd. I almost teared up as the sympathetic eyes of the barista looked at me in Costa.
Before and after. Line up boys! 😉
But, on the up side. I did have two compliments on how great I looked that morning – maybe I should do this more often (jokes)! Lesson learned kids, don’t plan a night out when you have a flight at 7am the next morning!
Against all the odds, I finally landed into Udaipur 5 hours later and was on my way to a much better place in Lake Pichola. Hats off to the Taj team for letting me in and treating me like a queen despite my woes! It was SO worth the hassle and the wait.
This is a guide to checking into the Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur.
The Taj Lake Palace whimsically floats on Lake Pichola in Udaipur, Rajasthan. Known as the ‘Venice of the East’ and the ‘White City’, it’s famous for it’s romantic lakes and royal palaces.
You can only reach the palace by boat and so when you arrive in the City Palace complex, you will need to reach the Taj Lake Palaces’ exclusive jetty and catch the boat from here. The ride takes only around 5 minutes and there are boats at all hours of the day.
Unfortunately, unless you’re a guest of the hotel or have a rather expensive dinner reservation you’re not allowed to get a boat over here without checking in.
As soon as I arrived at the jetty I knew I was in for luxury treatment. I was welcomed with a refreshing drink and cold towel for my face. Perfect after my hectic journey. I then hopped on the boat and made my way to the summer palace.
A royal welcome fit for a Maharani
When I arrived at the palace, I received a royal welcome with a shower of rose petals. One of the staff held an umbrella over my head to shelter me from the heat. It was truly a welcome fit for a queen.
The Maharana used to use this as his summer palace and I could see why. The cool breezes from the cross winds of Lake Pichola were heavenly.
I then checked in, while in the welcome lounge of the hotel. It was love at first sight with their Rajasthani decor. Everything was luxurious, even down to the mother of pearl coasters! The team served me one of their signature mocktails; a Guava cooler. It was the perfect compliment to the summer heat wave which had engulfed the north of India at the time.
I had requested a quiet room as I had struggled sleeping for quite a few weeks and just needed some quiet to get some well needed rest. Plus, after the morning I had I could have slept for a week to try and forget the embarrassment.
The team upgraded me from a garden view room to a penthouse suite with jaw dropping lake and city palace views. I honestly had to pinch myself as I couldn’t believe my luck. I was going to wake up to this in the morning *squeal*!
My room was a Palace Suite, which was simply perfect. It had heritage haveli decor with gorgeous painted scenes on the wall. It came with a chaise longe and boutique Rajasthan furnishings. It also came with modern amenities which you would expect at a 5 star hotel. The air con was on point!
My favourite part was the massive bath! I instantly jumped in the tub to get the vom out of my hair!
The palace grounds
Every part of this hotel was dreamy. The white spires and the amazing Indian archways which were laced with bougainvilleas, all accompanied by a 360 degree backdrop of Lake Pichola. It was like walking into a movie set.
This hotel is world famous for many reasons but it is also known for the James Bond film ‘Octopussy’ being shot here in 1983. The iconic scenes filmed at their Lily Pond are legendary. Unfortunately, it was undergoing some essential maintenance while I was here, but it was still pretty!
The pool was out of this world. The fact you could swim here in the morning light, overlooking the city palace was beyond belief. After you’ve taken a dip and need to warm up again, you can relax on their sun loungers with panoramic views of the lake. Perfect for some TLC and relaxation.
Their bars and restaurants are honestly some of the most extravagant yet elegant I’ve seen. Every room was to die for. It was like a Wes Anderson movie or something. All of these places were here for you to relax in. Although there wasn’t much air con, the fans and the cool breeze helped make it the perfect setting for a lazy afternoon.
Each evening the palace puts on a cultural performance for their guests. We were treated to an evening of traditional Rajasthan music and dance performances in their courtyard.
Here, you will get some complimentary snacks and can order drinks from the bar as you watch.
Yep, that is 9 plant pots on his head, a sword in both hands spinning brass plates and all on one leg!! Outstanding.
After, the main performance you could see the famous ‘shadow dancing’ in the courtyard. I loved her dress, it was so pretty!
The Taj Lake Palace have two restaurants serving traditional and western cuisine and a bar serving light snacks here, so you don’t have to worry about leaving the hotel for food unless you want to. But, it does come with a hefty price tag!
As it was my last weekend I decided to try out their Jharokha restaurant for dinner. This one had some stellar views of the city palace and lake Pichola lit up at night while I was wined and dined. Of course, I decided to treat myself to a final butter chicken curry with garlic naan. I would kill for one now!
Hair of the dog! Cheers to nine beautiful months in India.
My room rate also included breakfast which was an amazing buffet of fresh fruits and cooked to order dishes. It was a nice treat having massive breakfast by the lake, overlooking the winter palace with the sun shining through the arched windows…. ahh. Take me back!
The views of Lake Pichola
I feel that no description of the views of Lake Pichola would do it justice. You honestly just need to see it to believe it! I’ll let these photo’s do the talking…
The world class service
Whenever I’ve stayed at a Taj Palace or hotel, I always rave about their service. The staff who work at the Lake Palace however must be angels sent to earth! From start to finish on my stay here, they welcomed me with open arms and waited on me hand and foot (despite the mess I was).
To add to my string of bad luck, my camera broke and was suffering from a ‘lense lock’ error. Panicking as I really wanted some nice photos, the Taj team actually leant me a camera! As I travel solo, it’s hard for me to get pictures of myself and I felt lost as I didn’t have my blue tooth shutter to take any. But, the Taj staff came to the rescue and even came around and took some lovely pictures of me in my dress! I was truly grateful. You really can’t beat that sort of service.
When I was leaving, I was handed a thoughtful gift of a box of incense. They said that as I was leaving India, I could light these and the smell would bring me back to the palace. At that point, I was so touched and nearly in tears.
I will honestly miss the staff as they were so kind. Hats off to all of them, they are really a credit to the Taj group.
I’m so happy that I chose the Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur to spend my last weekend in India. Although there were mishaps from start to finish, I wouldn’t of changed my experience here for the world!
This hotel is expensive, but it is well worth the money for the views you get. It’s not every day you get to be treated like a queen on a romantic floating palace!
A big thank you to the Taj team for welcoming me here and making my last weekend truly special. I wish I was back there already, I guess I’ll light that incense tonight..*sniff*
If you would like to reserve a night, you can check available dates and rates here.
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