In this post, we review our three-night stay at The Oberoi Udaivilas in Udaipur, India. The Oberoi Udaivilas has made frequent appearances in “best hotels in the world” lists, and The Oberoi brand as a whole is widely regarded as one of the, if not the, best hotel brands in the world.
So, how did the hotel stack up? Keep reading to learn all about our stay at The Oberoi Udaivilas.
About This Post and Related Posts
This post reviews The Oberoi Udaivilas, the third of five hotels we stayed at over the course of two weeks in India. Other hotel reviews can be found here.
- Review of The Oberoi, New Delhi
- Review of Jai Mahal Palace, Jaipur
- Review of The Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra
- Review of JW Marriott Delhi Aerocity
NOTE: None of these hotels were comped, and we paid for all of these stays in full. This post is not sponsored and we do not receive affiliate income from any of these hotels.
In this Post
We have a lot we want to share about this hotel and experience, so this post is pretty long. Here’s what we cover in this post if you want to jump ahead.
- Booking The Oberoi Udaivilas
- Pre-Stay, Arrival, and Check-In
- Room review: Premier Room With Semi Private Pool
- Grounds and Amenities (dining, pools, boat transportation, etc)
- Service at The Oberoi Udaivilas
- Holi at The Oberoi Udaivilas (seasonal)
- Closing thoughts & overall review
Booking The Oberoi Udaivilas
Originally, our three-night Udaipur stay was booked (on a refundable rate) at Taj Lake Palace. However, after our contrasting experiences at The Oberoi, New Delhi and Taj-operated Jai Mahal Palace, I made the decision to switch to the The Oberoi Udaivilas.
Having originally booked the Taj Lake Palace for $2,632, I didn’t want to spend much more than that. The total at Udaivilas was $3,072 for three nights ($1,024 per night) in a Premier Room with a pool view.
Reviews I’d skimmed of the Udaivilas spoke glowingly of the rooms with semi-private pools, and there was just one of those left in the Amex Travel portal for booking. Our 2-year-old (Zoe) was absolutely bananas for swimming this trip, so the direct access to a semi-private pool was definitely appealing.
I neglected to write the exact rate, but it was around $180 per night ($540 total) more for that room. Knowing the Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts booking entitled us to an upgrade (with some exclusions), I decided to roll the dice and book the Premier Room (no semi-private pool). It paid off, as we were indeed upgraded to the room with the semi-private pool.
While I briefly considered other booking options (including booking The Oberoi Udaivilas on Booking.com), the possibility of a room upgrade was enough to push me into booking via Amex Travel. On this particular stay, the 4 PM checkout was also important since our departure from Udaipur would be on a 10 PM overnight train to Agra. Zoe would need a nap until about 3:30PM for us to have any chance of surviving that experience.
Hotels booked via Amex Travel earn 5X Membership Rewards points on the Amex Platinum, so we earned 15,360 points. Since this was my first Fine Hotels & Resorts booking of the calendar year, my $200 Amex Platinum credit was automatically applied to my statement.
Pre-Stay, Arrival, and Check-In
Before switching my booking, I contacted The Oberoi Udaivilas to confirm they would have a crib. We just had an issue at Jai Mahal Palace in Jaipur where the website promised a crib, but the hotel did not actually have one. I received a response within 30 minutes confirming they had cribs. (This was about a day faster than the response to the same inquiry from Taj Lake Palace, the hotel we were originally booked at in Udaipur).
After switching my booking, I inquired about the rates for a pickup from the train station. Within a few hours I received a quote of INR 2000, which we were fine with.
We arrived in Udaipur via a day train from Jaipur. Our driver was waiting outside with a sign for us, as promised, and the drive to the hotel took about 20 minutes.
We received a warm, traditional welcome and fresh juice upon arrival. They gifted us a Rajasthani hat and scarf, and Zoe even got to pick out a special toy. Then we were shown to our room where we were able to finish the formalities of check-in.
As noted above, we received a complimentary upgrade to the semi-private pool room as part of the Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts perks. We also were given a letter outlining the benefits associated with that program, which I liked. We particularly needed to ensure 4 PM checkout, because of our late scheduled departure.
Our Premier Room With Semi Private Pool
At 86 square meters, the Premier Rooms at Udaivilas are quite spacious and very beautiful. In the living space, there was a seating area with couch and sofa chair, a desk with a chair, King bed, and a cozy window nook overlooking the semi-private pool.
There was an outlet on the desk, which was accessible from one side of the bed. However, the outlet was a bit harder to reach on the other side of the bed.
There was also a large dresser and bar cart which was equipped with Nespresso coffee and tea station. It was also stocked with sweet and savory snacks and hard and soft drinks (for purchase). Complimentary bottled water was provided.
A large walk-through closet connected the main room to the bathroom. I loved how much storage space there was to keep luggage and clothing accessible, but out of the way. It was also stocked with your typical items like an iron, robes, slippers, and a safe.
The bathroom featured a seated vanity space, soaking tub with an epic view, standing shower stall and separate toilet stall. If I had to nit pick, I’d say that the bathroom sink and mirror were a tad small. Toiletries were Forest Essentials and little extras like dental kits and a loofah were provided.
The main room opened out to a small private terrace with a locking gate. This was a nice safety feature given the nearby pool and our toddler. On the other side of the gate was the semi private pool, two lounge chairs under an umbrella and a stunning view of Lake Pichola.
There were no blackout curtains, but there were multiple levels of shades and curtains which darkened the room up enough at nap time. Speaking of which, we requested a crib which easily fit in our very large room. They made up the crib nightly just as nicely as they made up the bed. They even brought a large minion pillow and special baby soaps for our little one.
My nominal complaints about this room are limited to the small mirror and poor outlet accessibility on one side of the bed. Overall, it was large, comfortable, and stocked with every necessary amenity. Everything was functional, well-maintained and clean. It was decorated with fresh flowers, the bed was comfy, and the room was quiet. 10 out of 10 would recommend.
Grounds and Amenities at The Oberoi Udaivilas
The Oberoi Udaivilas is located on a private compound in the Aravallis hills on the west side of Lake Pichola in Udaipur, India. The grounds are massive, beautifully manicured and impeccably designed.
The complex is spread out, with enchanting gardens, charming terraces and elaborate fountains and waterways at every turn. The walkways are all outdoors, so you’re treated to endless arch-framed views as you wander amongst the shimmering golden domes of the hotel.
The gardens, terraces and squares are all perfectly landscaped, dripping with pink bougainvillea, sculpted bushes and the greenest of grass. There’s peacocks and hammocks and candle-filled foyers. It feels like every corner of the resort is more beautiful than the last, and somehow it only gets more beautiful at sunset.
Here is a look at some of the specific things what you’ll find around the resort.
Restaurants and Bars at The Oberoi Udaivilas
The Oberoi Udaivilas has several dining options on site.
The main restaurant is called Suryamahal. This is where they serve breakfast in the morning, which has a buffet and à la carte menu. It’s then open all day with a wide menu of Indian and Western options. (Well, it’s supposed to be open all day. See the service section for more on our hiccup with this.)
The inside portion of the restaurant is attached to Chandni, which is the terrace seating area. This is where they have nightly traditional performances (music and dancing), weather permitting. We had breakfast on the terrace every morning and adored it. They gave out flower crowns on Women’s Day, and I truly couldn’t have been happier.
The hotel also has a fine dining restaurant called Udaimahal. I’m sure it’s lovely, but we did not dine there because fine-dining and 2-year-old is not a mix we’re interested in testing out.
There are two bars on property. The Bar is the lobby bar and then there is an outdoor bar down the hill along the water. We were explicitly told that children were not allowed at the waterfront bar, and so we didn’t attempt to go to the lobby bar either.
The final option for food was room service. It’s available 24/7, but some menu items (specifically tandoor items) are only available at certain times. The room service menu was the same as Suryamahal.
Overall, we were impressed by restaurants we tried, and we ate at the hotel for nearly every meal in Udaipur. The food was really good, the waitstaff was friendly and the service was relatively quick. We’re generally easy to please when it comes to food, so we just liked that they had vegetarian options, coffee, and a high chair at the ready.
We also quickly learned that The Oberoi loves a surprise treat. Throughout our stay we were delighted to have sweets show up at our room and at our table.
Pools, Spa & Fitness Center
There’s a lot of water at The Oberoi Udaivilas.
Let’s start with the hotel’s famous semi-private pools. These pools line the lake-facing rooms and add to the overall beauty of the resort. Rooms with semi-private pools have direct access to the pool from inside their room. Several rooms share the same pool space though, making them semi-private.
We were at the very end of the block of rooms. It was nice because we had a bit more pool space directly in front of our room, but the view was probably better further down. The semi-private pools aren’t heated, so the water was quite cold. Even so, it wasn’t enough to keep my two-year old out of there, and we spent lots of time in the water. We even called the front desk to have a pool floatie sent to our room, which they happily did.
The main pool is located in a back courtyard in the center of the pool-view rooms. It makes sense that the main pool is conveniently located for these rooms, as they do not have a semi-private pool. This pool is technically heated, but it was still pretty chilly in February.
Even though we had a semi-private pool, we came to this pool a few times for the warmer water and quicker access to floaties. There was often an attendant at the pool who would set up our towels and bring us waters and sunscreen. He was also the keeper of pool floaties. That meant the one time he wasn’t there, we had to call housekeeping to bring said floaties.
The most beautiful pool with the best view was located by the spa. You don’t need to be getting a spa service to access or enjoy the pool, but it is adults only. That meant we personally didn’t spend much time there.
The spa facilities looked beautiful, but we did not receive any treatments. You do have to go through the spa to access the fitness center, which we did use. The fitness center is in the basement of the spa, and looks out to a beautiful garden. It’s a nice facility with cardio equipment, free weights and other basic gym equipment. They also had towels, fruit and water.
The Oberoi Udaivilas Boat Transportation
There’s complimentary boat service across Lake Pichola from the hotel to the city center. You could take a car, but it’s probably faster and definitely more beautiful to take the boat. The boat ride ended up being one of my favorite things about the hotel.
The boat dock at the hotel is located down the hill from the lobby, and there is a golf cart shuttle to take you there.
The hotel could be a little more clear about the boat logistics. As it was explained to us, the boat operates on an as-needed basis, it’s not a constant or scheduled shuttle. This means if you request a boat just as it’s leaving the pier with someone else, you’ll have to wait the 20ish minutes for the roundtrip to complete before you can board.
The other issue is requesting your return boat. You’d prefer not to be waiting on the pier across the lake for 20 minutes if you can avoid it. We were told you can call the hotel about 20 minutes before you want to be picked up and they’ll dispatch the boat, and that’s what we’d recommend.
I couldn’t get the hotel number to work on my phone, but I successfully contacted two staff by WhatsApp to request pickups. A third attempt (with a different staff member) resulted in a missed WhatsApp message and a reasonable 12-minute wait to be picked up.
The pier on the other side of Lake Pichola is located right around here (you can see it in the satellite view). The boat driver can arrange a tuktuk ride into the heart of the city (150 INR), or you can walk a little bit up the street to Doodh Talai, where you can haggle a little more effectively (we paid 100 INR).
The Oberoi Udaivilas for Kids
I do think the children’s offerings could be slightly improved. First, there’s actually a playground tucked into the back of the property. No one told us about it and we only stumbled across it while taking a photo stroll through the property on our last night. I wish that had been noted, but it also could have used some upkeep. (A swing was broken.)
Second, while there actually is a “kids room,” it was only available during the scheduled kids’ activity, which consisted of a 15-minute Rajasthani puppet show. The kids room at Jai Mahal Palace, by contrast, was open during the day for kids to freely enjoy the games and activities therein.
We also didn’t love that the waterfront bar did not allow children. The fine dining restaurant or even the hotel bar are more understandable, but this was just causal outdoor dining. Especially after being told (by mistake) that the restaurant wasn’t open yet at 6:30, it was really frustrating that the one place that was open didn’t allow children.
Of course, this is honestly small potatoes compared to how the staff actually treated Zoe. From surprise treats in the room to a small toy at arrival to fun pool toys, Zoe was treated like royalty the entirety of our stay. They even got to help drive the boat! We also appreciated that high chairs and cribs were available, and we loved that they included kid bath soaps in the room.
Service at The Oberoi
The Oberoi shines when it comes to hospitality. It’s no surprise that the staff at The Oberoi Udaivilas were among the best in the industry.
One thing that is important to note about the service at The Oberoi is that they do not accept individual tips. There are signs about this in the room and around the hotel. Instead, you can leave a tip for the staff as a whole in a sealed envelope at checkout.
This is a concept we quickly came to love. We immediately noticed that the interactions with the staff felt more authentic and less transactional. When we stopped worrying about how much to tip every person who was nice to us, we could actually notice and appreciate it more. At the end of the day, we probably tipped more than we otherwise would have and there were no awkward exchanges. Win, win.
We had countless positive interactions with staff members. The concierge answered all my questions about celebrating Holi in Udaipur. I was greeted by name by staff I’d only just met in passing. I left a few items in the fitness center, and they tracked them down to me and personally returned them to my room. We had a late train and were already granted 4 PM checkout, and yet they invited us to keep our room up until we departed for the day at 7 PM. And like I already mentioned, they were constantly surprising us with treats and desserts.
We did have a couple bumps in our stay, and that’s when you can really tell good service from bad. I’ll spare you the 2,000-word-essay we originally wrote titled, “The Early Dinner Debacle,” but the key takeaway is that the staff bent over backward to fix a relatively small problem.
The short version of that story is that we tried to go to dinner at 6:30, but we were turned away and told the restaurant didn’t open till 7. We asked if there were any other options, were told there wasn’t, and ended up ordering room service. Ultimately, it seems like the restaurant should have been open all day and the staff just made a mistake. Throughout the evening, we received no less than 5 different apologies and attempts to make it right, which included inviting us back to the restaurant and comping our dinner and our next lunch.
We had another mixup regarding access to the fitness center. When we first enquired about the hours, someone told us that it was open 24/7, but that you needed to call housekeeping for access outside of the spa hours. Later, I asked the spa staff about how we could go about getting that access, and she said that the fitness center closed at the same time of the spa.
We didn’t press the issue, because it didn’t end up being relevant. But in both cases, the interaction didn’t end with the response to the question. In both cases, the employee asked if we wanted to use the fitness center now, if they could show us around, and if there was anything they could do to make our stay more comfortable. They were working with us, trying to ensure we could have a positive experience in spite of whatever answer they had for us.
Both of these examples just show that even at the nicest hotels, service might not be entirely perfect. What sets a good hotel apart is how they handle these bumps. What matters is how the other 99% of the experience is. We are less prone to be bothered by one little misunderstanding when so many people go out of their way to try to make it right (sometimes even too much so). We’re are not likely to focus on the one inconsistency when we were otherwise treated so incredibly well.
Holi at The Oberoi Udaivilas (seasonal)
We stayed at The Oberoi Udaivilas during Holi, which is a Hindu festival that marks the start of spring. It’s celebrated throughout the country, but it is most popular in northern India. People throw brightly colored powders in the air and dance in a joyous festival celebrating the triumph of good over evil.
We specifically chose to celebrate Holi in Udaipur. It looked like a medium sized celebration that had events and festivities that would be fun and exciting, but also not too crowded or out of hand to experience with a toddler. For the most part, we got that right and had the most amazing time celebrating in Udaipur.
The concierge at The Oberoi Udaivilas deserves full credit for how much fun we had at Holi. Most importantly, he corrected the date for us. Everything we read about Holi said that it was on March 8 that year, but the celebrations in Udaipur were actually a day earlier. When I stopped by the concierge, he corrected me on the dates, told me where to go for the best celebrations in town and explained how to get there by boat.
The Oberoi Udaivilas also hosts their own Holi celebration on property as well. They had a beautiful event space set up by the lake that was beautifully decorated with rangoli, hanging fresh flowers, colorful drapery and cozy seating. They had a DJ, space for dancing, a full buffet and bar, plus passed treats like homemade popsicles. And of course, there was colored powder and water blasters so people could “play Holi.”
The Holi party at The Oberoi was really beautiful. We personally liked the celebrations in the city better, because we liked watching how the locals actually celebrated. (There were plenty of tourists in town, too.) However, there were plenty of guests who clearly just stuck to the hotel party, and they all seemed to be having an incredible time.
We’d suggest doing both! We went into town early and celebrated there from about 10-11:30. Then we had a full hour to celebrate at the the hotel party that went till 1 PM.
If you’re flexible on dates for your India trip, we’d highly recommend planning to visit during Holi. Udaipur is a great place to experience it and The Oberoi Udaivilas is the perfect place to stay while you’re here.
Closing thoughts & overall review
We are not the first people to gush about The Oberoi Udaivilas, and we won’t be the last. It’s one of the most beautiful hotels I’ve ever stepped foot into. From breakfasts on the terrace overlooking Lake Pichola to the sunsets from our semi-private pool, it was the kind of luxury hotel experience that dreams are made of.
It wasn’t a perfect stay technically. We had a hiccup with a meal, there was some confusion about the boat transportation, we weren’t wowed by the kid’s room. And yet, we would still leave The Oberoi Udaivilas a resoundingly glowing review a thousand times over.
The reason for that comes down to the service. The staff at The Oberoi go out of their way to create a frictionless, luxury experience for their guests. They are kind, they’re empowered to solve problems, and they do their job well. The pride they take in their work is evident in every interaction.
Another favorite thing about The Oberoi Udaivilas was its location. I loved that we got to take a boat across Lake Pichola as our transportation into town. Riding a boat around the lake is an activity on most people’s Udaipur itinerary and we got to do it twice a day.
The Oberoi Udaivilas is strikingly more beautiful, but I do think we enjoyed The Oberoi, New Delhi just a little bit more. There are a few reasons for that.
First, I think we just needed the hotel more. New Delhi is a much more intense, demanding and exhausting city than Udaipur. The contrast between the hotel and the city was much starker and we relied on its tranquility in a way that wasn’t as essential at Udaivilas.
The Oberoi, New Delhi was also physically smaller than Udaivilas. There were fewer staff members and we engaged with the same staff more often. They felt like family by the end of our stay there, and we din’t quite have that experience at Udaivilas.
That said, I still don’t have a single bad thing to say about the Oberoi Udaivilas. It’s was an experience I will forever cherish and I’m so happy we changed our plans to stay there. It’s a stunning, unique, luxury hotel that deserves a spot on any hotel lover’s bucket list.
On our last day, we were gifted a beautiful comb and mirror set and a framed art print of an elephant. We didn’t have a lot of luggage space, but we made room for both of these items. The print is hanging on my wall as I write this. I always want to remember the special time we had at The Oberoi, Udaivilas.
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