Summary : A natural progression from sunset beers at Lake Palace is a meal at its pleasant Neel Kamal restaurant.
Luxury/Expensive (over US$35/Rsl000 per room night) If you’re on a budget, and can afford just one night in an Indian luxury hotel, treat yourself to a ‘touch of class’ at Udaipur’s Lake Palace Hotel (tel 23241-5, tlx 0335-203 LPAL IN, fax 0294-25804). It’s a fabulous place, with sumptuous decor, excellent facilities, and indelibly memorable views over Pichola Lake. Food and in-house entertainments are good, and the ‘ordinary’ rooms (US$95) are truly palatial. The suites range from US$185 to US$450 for the opulent Maharajah’s Suite The dinky pool is disappointing. The magnificent Shiv Niwas within the City Palace complex (tel 28239-41, tlx 0335-126, fax 0294-23823) is the former royal guesthouse and has been refurnished with treasures from the royal stores, including a room with Belgium crystal furniture. Less exotic, but with great pool and lake views, is Laxmi Vilas Palace, Fateh Sagar Road (tel 24411, tix 0335-218), with air-con singles/doubles from Rsl200.
All rooms and furnishings are perfectly colour-matched, and the whole palace is a model of architectural symmetry. The Maharana was so concerned with perfection, that he knocked it down and started again whenever defects in workmanship appeared!
Mid-range (US$10-35/Rs250–1000 per room night) Another royal establishment is Hotel Shikarbadi (tel 83200, tlx 0335-227, fax 0294- 23823), some 5 km (3 miles) out of town on the Ahmedabad road. Remote perhaps, but this is the Maharana’s personal hunting lodge—with swimming-pool and Aar . dens, smart uniformed retainers, horse-riding and elephant-trekking in the Deers Park. Some travellers even go on wild-boar hunts with the Maharana! Rooms are air-conditioned and good value at Rs500/750. Somewhat run-down but very charming, is the Maharani’s old guesthouse, Rang Niwas Hotel, Lake Palace Rd (tel 23891) which caters for both middle- and budget range travellers (old suites, with huge tub baths and antique furniture, cheap dorm beds in the ping-pong lounge). Lovely gardens and courtyard, homey service and atmosphere, friendly and informative staff. Other mid-range properties include Hotel Rajdarshan, 18 Pannadhai Marg (tel 29671-73, tlx 0335-310) with rooms from about Rs500; Chandralok Hotel, Saheli Marg (tel 29011) with rooms from Rs450; Hotel Hilltop Palace, 5 Ambavgarh, Fateh Sagar (tel 28708) and Anand Bhawan, Fateh Sagar Road (tel 23256). The RTDC property is Hotel Kajri, Shasta Circle Tel 29509, tlx 0335-239) with air-conditioned and air-cooled rooms from Rs250. RTDC have a small property at Jaisamand, 48 km (30 miles) to the south-east.
Budget (under US$1O/Rs250 per room night) Economy accommodation in Udaipur is often extremely good value. RTDC have published one of their directories of Paying Guest Accommodation for Udaipurvailable from the Tourist Office (tel 23605). Of Laighat Guest House, behind Jagdish Temple, one guest remarked: ‘Why pay Rsl000 for a room at the Lake Palace, when you can have the same lake views for Rs50 here?’ Actually, only the two roof-top rooms have the views, and you’ll want the big Rsl200 ‘suite’ (with own bathroom) to qualify for luxury. Lalghat is a friendly family place, with popular sit-out terrace and 24-hour room service. Even better (say some) is the nearby Jagat Niwas Hotel, overlooking Lake Palace. If you get past the Canadian labrador (he only goes for people he doesn’t know), you’re in for a treat. This is a lovely traditional house, with great views and relaxing courtyard. If anything, the rooms, from Rsl200 , are better than Lalghat-especially the two on the roof with balconies. Ask for Room No. l, with its stained-glass windows, tiled flooring, German chandeliers and huge Mughal-style double bed. Again, there’s a lovely sun-terrace and cosy family-style atmosphere.
The novelty place to stay is Pratap Country Inn (tel 23638) at Titadhia village, 6 km (33/4 miles) out of the city. This used to be the Maharana’s country house, and is now owned by his brother (a raconteur of epic proportions, full of stories about tiger shoots and the good old days of the Raj). The manager, Mr Singh, is one of life’s true eccentrics. He offers free camel- and horse-riding, free transport to and from rail station, free (but empty) swimming-pool, lovely country walks (there’s a great lake nearby), and a variety of rooms from Rs250. The speciality ‘horse-safaris’ are apparently fun, and if bored you can ‘meet member of Udaipur’s Ancient Royal Family of more than 1500 years’.
EATING OUT A natural progression from sunset beers at Lake Palace is a meal at its pleasant Neel Kamal restaurant. The menu is wonderfully pretentious, offering you a wide choice of ‘Royal Repasts’ and ‘International Celebrations’. The coffee shop and pool-side food are also good.
Reliable eating places on land include Parkview restaurant opposite Town Hall, and Berry’s (tel 25132) near Chetak Circle. Both offer good mid-priced Indian, Chinese and Continental fare, and Berry’s has great ice-cream. Over in Lake Palace Rd, there’s Roof Garden Cafe with its umbrella-shaded roof patio (with views), wound-down sound system, friendly manager, quick service and ‘exotic, delicious, hygienic food’. It’s a find. So is Mayur Cafe up at Jagdish Temple. Run by a live-wire 14-year old gourmet (a self-confessed ‘specialist in apple struddle’), this is a popular breakfast spot with banana cake, brown bread, great lassis and coffee, even decent porridge. The Mayur is also a good place to experiment with Indian food. By contrast, the Kwality opposite Rang Niwas Hotel is pricey, and pretty boring.
GENERAL INFORMATION The Government of Rajasthan Tourist Office (tel 23605), at the Tourist Bungalow off Shastri Circle, is open 10 am to 5 pm (except Sunday). Helpful staff, fair information, useful city tours in the morning (8 am-1 pm), and excursions to Nathdwara/ Eklingji temples in the afternoon (2-7 pm). The RTDC Beer Shop outside (open 10 am-11 pm) is a real bonus. Guides for sightseeing can be hired at either the tourist office or at the City Palace— bargain hard.).
Indian Airlines (tel 24433) is at LIC building, outside Delhi Gate. State Bank of India is in Hospital Rd. GPO is behind the cinema at Chetak Circle (open 10 am to 5 pm, except Sundays), but poste restante is at the small sub-office in Shastri Circle, opposite the Tourist Bungalow.