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Umaid Bhawan Palace Jodhpur 5.0

Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Quiet hilltop location, a 15-minute drive from the airport and the city center
  • Housed in a 20th-century palace where the Maharaja of Jodhpur still lives
  • Fine-dining restaurant offering Indian and continental cuisine
  • All-day veranda restaurant with Champagne breakfast options and afternoon tea
  • Two pools, one outdoors and one subterranean
  • Luxurious spa with yoga, meditation, massages, and Ayurvedic treatments
  • On-site museum with royal memorabilia and classic car collection
  • Free indoor and outdoor parking 
  • Free Wi-Fi throughout 

Cons

  • Limited facilities for children
  • Smoking allowed in some rooms and common areas (pro for some)
  • Not within walking distance of the city center

Bottom Line

Housed in a huge 20th-century palace (the royal family of Jodhpur still reside in one wing), Umaid Bhawan Palace is a stunning five-pearl property with a regal lobby, sprawling grounds, an upscale spa with Ayurvedic treatments, and a gorgeous underground swimming pool (there's also an outdoor pool for beating Jodhpur's many sweltering days). The 42 rooms and 22 suites here are undeniably luxurious, and most feature lovely Art Deco decor along with big marble bathrooms. However, smoking is allowed in some rooms, which may put some guests off. The two restaurants are equally upscale: one serves fine-dining and the other options serves Champagne at breakfast. There's really nothing comparable to the Umaid Bhawan in all of Jodhpur, though the Vivanta by Taj - Hari Mahal, run by the same group, is a lovely and more affordable alternative.

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Scene

Jaw-dropping luxury hotel occupying part of an enormous 20th-century sandstone-and-marble palace

This elegant property run by Indian luxury hotel group Taj Hotels Palaces Resorts Safaris attracts wealthy tourists from India and abroad as well as a smattering of domestic business travelers who want the best lodgings money can buy, at least in Jodhpur. The hotel occupies part of the larger Umaid Bhawan, an enormous sandstone-and-marble palace that's the official residence of the titular royal family of Jodhpur, who still live in one wing. It's set on a huge hill at the highest point in the city and is surrounded by a 26-acre grassy expanses of impeccably manicured grounds and fountain-filled courtyards, which it shares with a flock of resident peacocks. The palace features a mix of Beaux Arts and Indo-Saracenic-inspired architectural features and was built over a 15-year span from 1928 to 1943. To this day, it's among the largest private residences in the world. 

Guests enter via a colonnade-supported pavilion, into what may be among the most elaborate and detailed lobbies in India, if not on earth. The lobby starts with an enormous double staircase presided over by taxidermied leopards and tigers, continuing into a second room where intricately carved sandstone pillars rise up from a starburst design on the round lobby floor, towering over gold-finished Louis XIV-style furniture. These stop at a mezzanine level, where an additional set of columns and arches lead up to a gigantic cupola that crowns the whole space. Additional seating is located in the expansive Heritage Room, a high-ceilinged salon with Art Deco-inspired chairs and sofas, as well as oil portraits of Maharajas past and present. 

Location

On a hilltop overlooking Jodhpur (at its highest point), a 15-minute drive from the airport and the city center

Umaid Bhawan Palace is located on on Chittar Hill, the highest point in the beautiful old city of Jodhpur in central Rajasthan. Jodhpur Junction Railway Station and Jodhpur Airport are each around a 15-minute drive away, traffic permitting. Getting to the city center's landmark Ghantaghar (clock tower) takes around 15 minutes by car. The base of the city's most famous attraction --  Mehrangarh Fort -- is about a 20-minute drive away without traffic, though most travelers prefer to get dropped off at the clock tower and weave their way through the old city's narrow lanes, most of which are flanked with eggshell-blue houses that give Jodhpur its "blue city" moniker. 

Rooms

Large, elegant rooms and suites with marble bathrooms and predominant Art Deco decor

This hotel offers 22 suites with king beds and separate living rooms, along with 42 Palace Rooms, all of which have either one king bed or two twin beds. All units come with flat-screen TVs with DVD players, safes, coffee- and tea-making facilities, and minibars. Yoga mats are provided in the closet for guests who want to stretch out. Though decor varies a bit, rooms and most suites have primarily dark-wood Art Deco-inspired decor, with moulded ceilings, high doorways, and patterned carpets. Bathrooms feature Forest Essential luxury Ayurvedic bath products, slippers, and bathrobes, and lots of high-quality Makrana marble. 

Palace Rooms measure 450 square feet (42 square meters) and look out over the hotel's courtyard. The next level up are Historical Suites, 1100-square-foot (102 square meter) rooms that were previously used to host visitors of the royal family. The slightly larger Royal Suites add terraces with views out over the palace lawns and feature Art Deco decor. Grand Royal Suites are similarly decorated but even larger at 1,400 square feet (130 square meters). There's also a one-of-a-kind Maharaja Suite that measures 4,200 square feet (390 square meters) and has courtyard views plus a beautiful bathroom with a whirlpool hot tub and a mosaic-tiled steam room. However, the nicest room in the house is undoubtedly the Maharani Suite, which measures 4,850 square feet (451 square m) and features a gigantic bathroom with a huge pink-marble tub, two gold-framed vanities with swan-shaped sinks, and a separate whirlpool hot tub on a platform. Basic Wi-Fi is included in room rates, with high-speed access available for a surcharge. Note that both smoking and non-smoking rooms are available, so guests with a strong preference one way or the other should indicate such at the time of booking.  

Features

Indoor and outdoor pools, lovely spa with Ayurvedic treatments, and two restaurants

Facilities at Umaid Bhawan are geared toward relaxation and center more around adult travelers than families (although babysitting is available). One of the star features is the Jiva Spa, which offers all sorts of wraps, beauty treatments, and traditional Ayurvedic therapies along with private yoga and meditation instruction. Along with a long outdoor lap pool set amidst the hotel's expansive grassy lawns, there's the beautiful subterranean Zodiac Pool that's kept pleasantly warm throughout the year. Outdoor recreation here takes place on the palace's expansive grassy lawns, and there's plenty of room for croquet and running about. Inside, there's also a game room with a large billiards table at its center, along with a table for playing chess off to one side and a few spots for lounging. 

Dining options include Risala, the fine-dining  restaurant, which serves both Western and Indian fare at lunch and dinner in an elegant space with high molded ceilings, chandeliers, and royal portraiture on the walls. The more casual, Pillars restaurant is located out on the palace's covered back terrace and offers cuisine from around the world from morning until well into the night. Special afternoon tea service and Champagne breakfasts are also available here. Light snacks, liquor, and Cuban cigars are on offer at Trophy Bar, a cozy hunting lodge-style space with animal-print chairs and a few potentially disturbing hunting trophies mounted to the walls. Room service is available around the clock. 

Other features include free indoor and outdoor parking, free hotel-wide Wi-Fi (with high-speed upgrades available for a fee), and a travel desk for booking taxis, local tours, and excursions as well as golf and horseback riding. Valet laundry is available on request. There's also a popular museum on the property that features historic memorabilia, Rajasthani art, and the Maharaja's collection of classic cars. 

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Address

Near Circuit House, Jodhpur, Rajasthan 342006, India

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