Owing to just how much is going in and around the Taj Lake Palace, I decided to break apart the review into two parts. It also makes my rants more manageable for you guys because you don’t have to keep scrolling down.
Introduction: Incredible India
Focal Point: Incredible India in 8 Pictures
AMEX Centurion Lounge – DFW
Lufthansa Business Class Lounge DFW
Lufthansa A330 Business DFW-Frankfurt
Lufthansa Business Lounge Gate B21
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge – Frankfurt
Lufthansa A380 Business Frankfurt – Delhi
Holiday Inn – New Delhi Int’l Airport
Air India Economy Delhi – Udaipur
Taj Lake Palace – Udaipur (PART 1): Arrival to Dinner
Taj Lake Palace – Udaipur (PART 2): Sunrise to Checkout
Focal Point: Lake Pichola
Hyatt Regency New Delhi
Air India Business Class Lounge – Intl Departures T3
Plaza Premium Lounge – Intl Departures T3
Air India 777 Business Class Delhi – Hyderabad
Westin Mindspace – Hyderabad
Focal Point: Golconda Fort
Focal Point: Raitu Bazaar
Plaza Premium Lounge – Hyderabad Intl Airport
British Airways Club World Hyderabad-London
No. 1 Lounge London-Heathrow T3
BA Galleries Lounge Heathrow – Terminal 3
AA 777W Business Class London – DFW
History of the Lake Palace
The Lake Palace was in existence since before the American Revolution. It was built in 1743 as a winter vacation palace for Maharana Jagat Singh II and later converted into a 5 star hotel in 1963 by the Taj Hotel Group. The hotel most recently underwent a refurbishment in the early 2000s and now stands as one of the most iconic hotels in the world. The palace is home to around 80 rooms and suites and made of white marble much like the Taj Mahal, which is around 100 years older.
Since I had gone to bed before 10 pm, I woke up just before sunrise for my morning walk. My sleep wasn’t helped by the continuously running toilet in our room or the adjacent room (we never figured out which one).
The palace was built facing east so in most circumstances you should be able to capture some dazzling pictures from its upper level terraces. It was extremely early so there was absolutely no one out on the terrace except me and a few birds which decided to roost on the terrace. I would highly recommend walking around the wrap around terrace to spot the best composition.
Palace Grounds Walk
After sunrise, I decided to walk around the gardens and courtyards of the Lake Palace looking for some more compositions. The gardens kind of reminded me of my time walking around the Alcazar of Seville. I guess there is only so different you can design the courtyards of these palaces 🙂
The gardens are especially nice for any portraits you want to take with friends and family. There are also benches everywhere within the courtyard to sit and enjoy the day or whatever wildlife populates the gardens.
Breakfast @ Jharokha
After walking around the palace grounds for the good part of an hour, I met my family for brunch at the hotel’s other restaurant: Jharokha. The restaurant features the finest breakfast views and an understated fancy decor. We were seated in one of the corner window tables, which are the absolute best because they feature 180 degree views of the lake and the adjacent city palace. Despite these being the best, there are no terrible seats in the restaurant since you can see the lake from anywhere. Benefits of being on a floating palace I suppose.
Now Asian hotels are notorious for having some of the finest breakfast spreads, but the spread at the Taj takes it to a whole new level. Not only did the restaurant have all kinds of fruits, fresh juices, pastries, cereals, yogurts, and breads, but it also included an large menu of made to order western, and Indian options, which are served directly to the table.
I started off with an Indian favorite: Masala dosa (a lentil crepe stuffed with potato), which was ridiculously good despite this being North India, and the dish being South Indian. And then the food just kept coming, which included Utthapam, Poori, Poha, and even pancakes. There wasn’t a single dish that wasn’t incredibly good, which is a tough ask for such a large menu. At the very end, the chef insisted on bringing out some seasonal fruit and house special dessert, which was a sesame and peanut brittle.
As I mentioned, breakfast was included for booking through AMEX Fine Hotels and Resorts (benefit of the Platinum Card) and presented great value considering this breakfast costs around $40/person (all in) normally. Service was phenomenal throughout breakfast, and the restaurant being open until a little after 11 am made it a relaxing place to enjoy brunch.
After breakfast, we walked around the grounds a bit more before heading to the dock for our ferry back to the city and ride back to the airport. We were given some local souvenirs as going away presents, and asked to do a brief survey about our experience. I didn’t want to fill out the form so I just informed that everything was fine except for the incredibly loud pipes or toilets. It was at this point that I was told that I had a butler for any issues I had with the room and that I should’ve informed him/her earlier. This came as a surprise to me because there really wasn’t any mention of a butler when checking in. It’s not that I could’ve used one, but you would expect them to inform you that one was available for every room. A slip up, which didn’t really affect my stay to be honest.
Summary and Final Thoughts
The Taj Lake Palace is one of the finest hotel experiences one can have anywhere in the world. It easily blew every St. Regis, Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton, and Conrad I’ve stayed in out of the water in every regard. I regard it as my best hotel stay ever. The service, food, and locality were absolutely phenomenal, and really what you would expect for the price tag it commands. Booking with AMEX Fine Hotels and Resorts really was the cherry on top of the icing because it brought better value to an already awesome stay. The only gripe I had about this stay was that the rooms were a bit small and the pipes seemed to be in need of some help. Maybe after 18 or so years after the last renovation, they the palace is due for another minor renovation. The rooms are obviously not under the hotel management’s control, but I’m sure they can take care of the rest.
Udaipur, in general, has to be one of my favorite destinations in India, and I would return to it in a heartbeat to explore more of the city and enjoy more of Rajasthani hospitality. Although I do love the Lake Palace, I would love to check out the Leela Palace or Oberoi to see how they compare to their more famous neighbor. It goes without saying that you really can’t go wrong staying at any of these three brands.
Have you stayed at the Lake Palace before? What’s your take on traveling to Rajasthan, India?