Is This the Most Photogenic Hotel in the World?

The Oberoi Udaivilas Resort is a masterpiece of dizzying architecture, luxurious amenities, and beautiful accents at every turn.

A visit to the Oberoi Udaivilas starts off in the most romantic way possible: by boat. In the town of Udaipur, India, there’s a dock on Lake Pichola, where a smiling and dapper host waits under a colorful umbrella to greet visitors with an ice-cold homemade ginger soda. There’s a boat tied up to the dock, but it’s not just any boat; this boat is sleek and wooden, with benches, a canopy, and a musician in a turban playing the flute. Guests step onto the boat, leaving bags where they are, and the boat begins to make its way to what might possibly be the world’s most photogenic hotel.

Teddy Minford

After crossing glassy Lake Pichola and passing the imposing City Palace, the hotel comes into view: peach-colored domes, green expanses, and glassy infinity pools. The boat docks under the shade of a giant flowering tree, where there’s another group of greeters and welcome cocktail. Steps from the boat, there’s a golf cart waiting to take visitors to the grand entrance of the hotel, where carved stone elephants flank the entry to the hotel courtyard. Through the tall doors, a grassy expanse peeks through.

INSIDER TIPIf you’re traveling with a group, prepare to be wowed with an over-the-top welcome that involves musicians, dancers, a very fancily-dressed horse, and a shower of rose petals. If you’re not traveling with a group, you should find a group to travel with.

In front of the doors, there’s a cast of hotel characters to welcome guests, including a man dressed all in white with an impossibly large mustache. Everyone is dressed in elaborate saris and kurtas fit for an elegant occasion, but as it turns out, those are just their work uniforms. Prepare to feel underdressed.

Don’t forget to look up—the center of the lobby is a giant dome painted in 14 karat gold foil with royal blue details.

As luggage and bags are X-rayed (safety first!), visitors are led through the doors to their first real look at the hotel grounds. The courtyard is the size of a football field (probably, sports aren’t my thing), surrounded by high walls, and filled with perfectly manicured grass and evenly spaced trees in marble planters. The whole courtyard setting has a slight Alice in Wonderland in India vibe.

Teddy Minford;

The grass is almost too lovely to walk on, but that’s OK since there’s a black and white tile walkway leading to the front door. Along the path, peacock murals are set in shallow alcoves, adding to the fairy-tale feel of the hotel.

At the end of the courtyard, the doors to the hotel open into a sumptuous domed lobby filled with a fountain, glass chandeliers, and comfy velvet sofas where guests are treated to yet another welcome cocktail —a glass of champagne. Don’t forget to look up—the center of the lobby is a giant dome painted in 14 karat gold foil with royal blue details.

Oberoi Udaivilas Resort

The hotel is just as beautiful on the outside as it is on the inside. The exterior is a soft peach color, with domes and delicate arabesque arches and details throughout. To get to the rooms, visitors go out a set of double doors at the far end of the lobby and ascend a wide outdoor staircase that surrounds a multi-level fountain. Guestrooms are gorgeously ornamented with antique furniture, clawfoot bathtubs, and sumptuous beds covered in cotton applique bedspreads that are made locally. Everything in the rooms feels unique and thoughtful.

 

Most rooms open onto a small private patio with a door that leads to an open courtyard. In the more expensive rooms, doors open to a long infinity pool. In the luxuriously over-the-top Kohinoor suite, there’s a large private pool. Water is a theme here, with multiple pools and fountains reflecting light just like the surrounding Lake Pichola.

One of the most interesting features of this hotel is the oldest structure on the property: the Maharana’s hunting cabin. There’s a population of deer in a private wildlife reserve and the “cabin” where the Maharana used to come to hunt is perfectly preserved, with incredibly intricate murals on the walls and an excellent view of the wildlife preserve.

As beautiful as this hotel is, its gorgeous interiors and exteriors are only half the reason to stay here. The Oberoi Udaivilas takes service seriously and from the first step into the hotel, guests are taken care of in the most generous and thoughtful ways.

Food is a highlight here, especially the incredible breakfast buffet spread. Warm and flaky chocolate croissants, a traditional South Indian thali breakfast, fresh fruits and juices galore, or some good old American bacon and eggs are just some of the options available.

Dinners are a special occasion, with outdoor candlelit dinners under flowing tents with live music playing in the background. The menu offers traditional Rajasthani cuisine, alongside dishes from all over India and some international classics. Creative cocktails and a robust international wine list round out a romantic evening under the stars.

The Oberoi Udaivilas

With first-class service, excellent food, and luxurious amenities, this hotel is worth a visit. But what sets it apart from other luxury hotels in India is the design, the setting, and the decor. Don’t forget to bring your camera—Instagram awaits.