Travellers Choice The Royal Umaid
The great news of Umaid Bhavan Palace in Jodhpur winning the coveted title of World’s Best Hotel (2016 Travellers’ Choice Awards of TripAdvisor) made...
The Umaid Bhavan Palace, Jodhpur, offers its guests a taste of fine living. Having recently bagged the title of World’s Best Hotel, it is an unrivalled destination by itself
The great news of Umaid Bhavan Palace in Jodhpur winning the coveted title of World’s Best Hotel (2016 Travellers’ Choice Awards of TripAdvisor) made my heart swell with pride. For the first time in India, a hotel is placed on top of the world! Notwithstanding the joyous information, the traveller in me wanted to explore further and judge for myself why this rare honour is bestowed on the palace hotel.
The second largest city of Rajasthan, Jodhpur with its colour and chivalry, lingering music and hospitality, beautiful palaces and legendary cuisine, as we all know, is a tourist’s paradise. As my plane started descending, I could see the newly crowned Umaid Bhavan Palace standing regally amidst the aesthetically laid out gardens. Well, it scores on looks – a sure winner, anytime!
The last of India’s great palaces with a vastness of 26 acres, makes it one of the largest residences in the world. Built between 1928 and 1942, it was commissioned by HH Maharaja Umaid Singh (the grandfather of the present Maharaja of Jodhpur), to provide employment to Jodhpur people during a long drawn famine. The palace, principal residence of the royal family of Jodhpur since 1943, was designed by the famed Edwardian architect Henry Lanchester.
The stone used is somewhere between gold and pink, a beautiful blend that reflects sunlight in different hues. A celebration of the Art Deco style on the grandest scale, the strong colonial construction is offset with Mughal gardens and prominent Rajput elements carved on eaves and parapets.
On my arrival, the customary Rathore welcome of the Royal family of Marwar greeted me. In fact, I wasn’t prepared for the grand display, which came as a pleasant surprise. Feeling like royalty amidst the shower of delicate rose petals, following the grandiose stairs, I entered my own regal world, surrounded by the lavish gilt furniture and elegant art works, a perfect blend of eastern and western architectural influences.
While the Jodhpur royal family still occupies a part of the romantic palace, another part accommodates a well-maintained museum, displaying an amazing array of items belonging to the Maharaja and the royal family – weapons, antiques and fascinating clocks, crockery and trophies.
The truly indulgent can opt for the original Maharaja or Maharani suites. Aptly dominated by a mural, the Maharani suite is dramatic in gold, black and mirrors. Lavishly appointed with a private drawing and dining room, a kitchenette, a spa therapy room and a large balcony boasting spectacular views of the palace gardens and the 500-year-old Mehrangarh Fort, it is a picture of elegance and luxury.
Maharaja Suite was formerly the personal chambers of Maharaja Umaid Singh. Exuding a masculine style with dramatic Norblin frescoes of leopards, tigers and horses and massive Art Deco furnishings, it is well-furnished with a private dining area, a bar, a spa therapy room, and a large veranda which overlooks the palace courtyards.
Umaid Bhavan Palace offers an enchanted culinary experience with an unrivalled ambience at a carefully selected choice of restaurants like ‘Risala’, where fine dining assumes a highly refined and sophisticated definition; ‘Pillars’ – the alfresco restaurant that offers spectacular views, serving breakfast and European cuisine at dinner; ‘Sunset Pavilion’ – the rooftop restaurant perched atop the palace with breath-taking views of the city, serving an array of grills, regional barbecue dishes, assorted bakes and flambéd desserts.
A drink at the ‘Trophy Bar’ is a must for the complete royal experience. It is said that no member of royalty ever stops at one drink! Evocative of the Jodhpur gallantry, every inch of the Trophy bar is steeped in history. It is as popular for the fabled cognac and créme de menthe as it is for its ambience, complete with hunting trophies on its walls.
The most opulent weddings are being held in the palace with guest lists of who’s who of the global elite. Among the hotel’s visitors are royalty from all around the world, film stars, artists, intellectuals and connoisseurs of arts and lovers of fine living.
By the way, when I came to know that my Royal Suite was once occupied by Brangelina, I had sleepless nights with excitement! Well, when genuine travellers from around the world rated Umaid Bhavan Palace as number one on the globe, I do agree it is a clever choice!
- Jodhpur is well connected from Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur and Udaipur by flights
- A shopper’s paradise: Jodhpur is famous for tie & dye textiles, embroidered leather shoes, lacquer ware, antiques, carpets, puppets, clay figurines like miniature camels and elephants, marble inlay work and classic silver jewellery.
- Must eat: the famous Jodhpur sweets like 'Mave ki Kachori', 'Besan ki Chaaki', 'Maakhan Vade' etc