A room fit for a queen. While the saying gets thrown around quite often, the Taj Lake Palace takes that statement quite literally, and to an entirely different level if I may add. Located in the middle of Lake Pichola, this decadent marble palace was originally built by Maharana (ruler) Jagat Singh II of Udaipur in 1746. Hold on, you are meaning to tell me this 'pleasure palace' was built before the United States of America was even a country? Well it looks like we have a lot of catching up to do. While this palace has been 'floating' for quite sometime it became world renowned when it was featured as the secluded lair of 'Octopussy's' eponymous Bond girl back in the early 1980's.
So why did my mom and I choose to travel to the most romantic hotel in the world for a girls weekend? The obvious answer: why not? The actual answer: my mother and father stayed here 32 years ago and since we were in the neighborhood we wanted to see what the Taj group did with the place. While I have nothing to compare it to - I am pretty sure they have done an exquisite job... I mean they showered us in rose petals upon our arrival, but I'll get to that part in a few paragraphs.
* spoiler alert * if you plan on staying at this palace, and want your experience to be a surprise - I suggest you meander your way to another article because I am about to expose the most beautiful embroidered pillows and stained glass walls you have and will ever see in your LIFE... seriously, look at that lobby in the photo below.
the grand arrival
After a 1 hour flight from Mumbai, we landed in Udaipur, also known as the Venice of the East. At a chilled 110 degrees, our driver kindly approached us in the baggage claim area and proceeded to take our luggage while welcoming us to the beautiful city of Udaipur.
"May I proceed" the driver said as he gently caressed the steering wheel with his freshly laundered gloves. "By all means" we responded and just like that we were off to find a Palace on Lake Pichola.
As we approached the palace, the Land Rover made its way down a long driveway (adjacent to the Maharana's palace) shaded by Mango trees & inhabited by thousands of bats. While it was the first time seeing these creatures hang from the trees, I was freaking out in the best way ever.
We were greeted (once again) with chilled water and an exhaustingly beautiful view of the lake, palace & sunset. Note, only guests of the palace are able to visit which makes for a very secluded and romantic experience...with my mom. I was in pure and utter bliss.
After a quick security check we made our way down a rusted orange carpet straight onto our chariot of the lake which would take us to the palace. The kind gentleman escorting us encouraged that he take my bag while proceeding to say "The princess & the queen do not hold their bags while staying at the Taj Lake Palace, just her camera and a smile, welcome home" - pinch me, I must be dreaming & just like that we were drifting away into the sunset.
the grand entrance
Upon our arrival to the palace, a guard with a paisley embroidered umbrella greeted us on the dock as rose pedals gracefully fell from the sky above (mostly blowing into my eyes but that is besides the point). While we waited for the checkin process to be complete, we lounged on the most decadent couch I have ever seen while sipping freshly squeezed grapefruit juice before touring the property. Honey I'm home.
Since it was low season at the Taj Lake Palace, we were kindly upgraded to one of the royal suites - and let me start off by saying this two story villa was truly fit for royalty. From a pillow, duvet and robe menu to fresh flower pedals sprinkled on the marble floors our jaws dropped as we made our way to what we would call home for the next 3 days. Naturally, I slipped into a red silk robe with gold embroidery and made myself at home. Between the natural soap selection, rose pedals in the bathtub, and different lounge areas, I did not even know where to begin. Just when I thought the marble floor was as decadent as it could get, I found a secret staircase at the front of the room which led me to a balcony that overlooked the Grand Palace, sunrise and pool area. We were then informed that dinner would be served here after a heritage tour of the property and a traditional dance performance. Ooo, I was more excited than a little kid in a candy store.
sunset sail & traditional dance performance
As a guest of the Taj Lake Palace, the concierge provides complimentary history tours of the hotel, proceeding with a sunset sail around the lake which ends up at the local watering hole (hotel bar) to enjoy a chilled adult beverage and traditional indian dance performance as the sun sets. Talk about dreamy.
After the dance performance, our personal concierge took us back to the Udar Mahal Suite (our room) where we were greeted by rose pedals and candles that guided us upstairs to a dinner set up straight out of the season finale of the Bachelor. No Joke - a secluded, romantic dinner for two overlooking the grand palace right on the lake, they even left a batman phone to call the waiter when we wanted more wine (why can't real life be like that?). The only thing missing was a camera crew. Keep in mind we met with the head chef earlier in the day to tailor make our menu for the evening - all traditional indian dishes, with mint tea for dessert.
As much as I love exploring a new city, I also love lounging and exploring the small details of a property for a day or two. From sunrise yoga, a breakfast spread to swoon over and a pool that epitomizes the concept of relaxation - the palace certainly did not lack any details to dive into for a day or two.
pit stop: the princesses' palace, car garage + garden
After a day of relaxation, we took the boat on shore to explore the grand palace along with the princesses car collection. I'll let the photos do the talking on this one.
& just when you thought it was over: dining at the palace
Just when we thought our experience at the Taj Lake Palace couldn't get more decadent, we started diving into the fine dining experiences. I may be slightly biased as Indian is one of my favorite genre's of cuisine, but the Taj has something for everyone. With 2 restaurants, Jharokha (Multi-cultural), Neel Kamal (Royal cuisine of Rajasthan), and Armit Sagar (sea of nectar) aka the most beautiful bar you will ever see - our stomach's were beyond satisfied while residing at the palace.
the watering hole
Order the Coconut Mojito & the famous Bombay Martini
Dinner at Neel Kamal | A 5 course meal fit for a king
the royal suites
Before departing the palace, I had the chance to view some of the other royal suites that were not occupied. This probably goes without saying, but I have never have I ever been more excited at a hotel. A swing in the queens room, jacuzzi tubs on the lake & secret hideouts in secluded corners. No wonder why this place is called the pleasure palace.
to the airport, please
& just like that we were heading back to the airport. This property is not comparable with anything else I have ever seen, and just like many great things in this world, should not be compared to any other experience as it is truly unique to its own. I will definitely be back as there are so many more details to explore. Until next time.