Oberoi Udaivilas or the Taj Lake Palace? Taj Lake Palace or the Leela Palace? It’s a question that our guests often ask us at Indian Excursions.
As experts in tailor-made tours of Rajasthan, we’re intimately familiar with all three of these luxury hotels in Udaipur. For your comparison, here we break down the advantages and disadvantages of each one to better aid your decision making:
When deciding which of the luxury hotels in Udaipur to go for, location is, of course, a key factor for many guests. The Taj Lake Palace’s unique and dreamy location in the middle of Lake Pichola makes it one of the world’s most well-known luxury hotels. Transferring to and from the property by boat is a romantic and memorable experience, as is gazing out at the shimmering waters from your Palace Room‘s window. Staying at the Oberoi Udaivilas or Leela Palace instead affords a view of the lake palace as well as the City Palace and Lake Pichola.
“I’ll always remember one of our past guests sharing their opinion with me on why the Oberoi Udaivilas had the better location: ‘if you stay in the Eiffel Tower, you don’t get to enjoy the view of it!’ he exclaimed!” – Madeleine Hann, Co-founder at Indian Excursions
Both the Leela Palace and the Oberoi Udaivilas are nestled on the banks of Lake Pichola, offering stunning views. At the Oberoi Udaivilas, the Premier Room with Lake View ensures a beautiful view of the water as well as direct access to a semi-private swimming pool that runs along the periphery of the hotel. At the Leela Palace, the Grand Heritage Lake View Room with Balcony boasts a private terrace to sit out on and gaze at the stunning panorama.
It’s difficult to say which of these luxury hotels in Udaipur have a better location. All three are stunning, but personally, we feel the Lake Palace – with its unique position in the middle of the water – has the advantage.
The Taj Lake Palace, Oberoi Udaivilas and Leela Palace are all amongst India’s finest luxury hotels, and one can expect world-class service. We’re splitting hairs here, but based on the feedback of our guests we’d have to say the Oberoi Udaivilas has the edge. The signature Oberoi service saw the group named as “Best Group of Hotels in the World” by readers of Travel+Leisure magazine, and the Oberoi Udaivilas as the “Best Hotel in The World” in 2015. Think attentive yet unobtrusive; personalised, where each member of staff remembers your name, your likes and dislikes. Above and beyond this, staff have a funny way of knowing what you want even before you do, and they love to mark your special occasions with complimentary extras.
Rooms and suites
Now, this is a hard one! It’s impossible to say in this comparison of the Oberoi Udaivilas vs Taj Lake Palace vs Leela Palace that one has better rooms and suites than the other. What we do think is that it comes down to personal taste. Those who appreciate history, old-world charm and authentic details will prefer the Taj Lake Palace. For a more classic, perhaps minimalist atmosphere with exceptional attention to detail; the Oberoi Udaivilas. Guests who enjoy royal, glamorous Indian décor will be happier at the Leela Palace. In terms of space, the Oberoi Udaivilas has the largest entry-level rooms at 600 sq ft. The Leela Palace’s begin at 480 sq ft. and the Taj Lake Palace’s at 300 sq ft.
The Oberoi Udaivilas, Taj Lake Palace and Leela Palace all offer several restaurants and stunning cuisine. At the Oberoi Udaivilas, we love Udaimahal – an evening dining space adorned with a night sky on the domed ceiling. Candlelit at night, with live traditional musicians and views of the City Palace twinkling on Lake Pichola, Udaimahal epitomises romance. The menu features Indian cuisine, rare dishes and reinvented classics.
Taj Lake Palace offers four dining spaces. Our favourite is Neel Kamal. A traditional ambience, views of the lily pond, and a mesmerising water feature set the tone for Neel Kamal at the Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur. The fine-dining dinner-only restaurant serves authentic flavours of the royal cuisine of Udaipur, The North-West Frontier and other regions of India, using local ingredients and wood-fired stoves.
At the Leela Palace, we feel the Sheesh Mahal takes the biscuit as the most memorable dining experience in Udaipur. This Indian fine-dining restaurant boasts a stunning location on the edge of Lake Pichola. The alfresco setting allows you to soak up the night sky, enjoy a cool breeze from the lake, and a mesmerizing view across the City Palace, Lake Palace and Lake Pichola.
Each of these three luxury hotels in Udaipur also offers private dining options for those truly special occasions. At the Taj Lake Palace, couples can enjoy an intimate dinner on one of the secluded terraces or beside the lily pond. At the Oberoi Udaivilas, special dinners are arranged beside the lake or at the poolside pavilion. At the Leela Palace, their ‘destination dinners’ can be presented at various venues; including the spa alcove, the garden patio, or the pool deck.
Dining is guaranteed to be a royal experience at either of these three luxury hotels in Udaipur. If you were to settle on the Oberoi Udaivilas as your base in Udaipur, you’re always welcome of course to dine at the Leela Palace one night. The only exception to this is the Taj Lake Palace, as the entire property is accessible only to resident guests.
All three of these luxury hotels in Udaipur offer all the facilities one expects from a five-star hotel; including a spa, swimming pool, salon, fitness centre, and bar. The Taj Lake Palace’s spa is perhaps the most fitting, as guests can enjoy a treatment while floating on Lake Pichola in the Taj Lake Palace’s spa boat. The trade-off is the compact swimming pool (the Taj Lake Palace, of course, wasn’t built to function as a hotel). At the Oberoi Udaivilas, we love their sunset shikhara boat ride – an experience that’s a highlight for many of our guests.
For child-friendly activities, we feel the Oberoi Udaivilas has the edge. They offer activities (many of which are complimentary) including a magic show, pot painting, kite decorating and flying, a puppet show, and even a treasure hunt!
At the Leela Palace, colourful live dances and musical performances in the evenings bring Udaipur’s rich culture and heritage to life.
That’s an easy one! Of the three luxury hotels in Udaipur we’re comparing, the Taj Lake Palace wins hands down in terms of history. This dazzling white marble palace is 250 years old and was initially shaped by an Indian price. In comparison, the Oberoi Udaivilas and Leela Palace are both newly built. However, with grand domes, reflection pools and turrets, they’ve been designed to reflect a traditional style and appear at home within their surroundings. The Leela Palace was painstakingly constructed over 14 years (that’s much longer than the Taj Lake Palace!), and this can be seen in the excellent level of detail around the property.
“When staying at the Taj Lake Palace, don’t miss the complimentary heritage walk around the property (with a glass of sparkling wine). The palace historian will explain the rich origins and romantic stories behind the palace” – Shiv Gurjar, Co-founder at Indian Excursions
The Taj Lake Palace owes much of its charm to its unique location in the lake. It’s accessible only by boat, of course. The boat ride only takes five-to-ten minutes, and it’s available with compliments around the clock. The Oberoi Udaivilas and Leela Palace are more accessible with entry by boat or by road. At the Leela Palace, guests are encouraged to enter by boat, as their parking area is quite a walk away from the main building (courtesy buggies are available). The Oberoi Udaivilas is the most accessible of the three hotels.
When comparing these three luxury hotels in Udaipur in terms of cost, the Oberoi Udaivilas, Taj Lake Palace and Leela Palace are at a similar price point. For a standard room, guests can expect to pay from approximately ₹30,000 ($464; £365) per night in the low season (April to September), and ₹75,000 ($1160; £920) in the high season (October – March). During Christmas and New Year this is significantly higher. The Leela Palace and Taj Lake Palace both have mandatory gala dinners on the 24th and 31st December which can cost upwards of ₹25,000 per person.
In conclusion, all three of these luxury hotels in Udaipur are stunning and excel in all areas, from their location to their décor to their cuisine and service. Ultimately, it’s not possible to make the wrong choice as they’re all fantastic and will ensure a truly memorable stay. We encourage you to go with your gut instinct on whether the Taj Lake Palace, the Oberoi Udaivilas or the Leela Palace is for you. Overall, however, we’d say that those who’re keen on history will prefer the Taj Lake Palace; for excellent service and spacious grounds, the Oberoi Udaivilas; and for royal grandeur, the Leela Palace.
And, if the decision is just too hard, you might consider staying at two or even all three of these fabulous hotels. This is an approach lots of our past guests have taken, for example by spending their first night at the Oberoi Udaivilas and their last night at the Taj Lake Palace. The only snag is the added check-in and check-out as some may find it tiring to pack and unpack their belongings. It depends on you and your preferences as an individual traveller.
If you’d like to experience one of these three luxury Udaipur hotels on your upcoming trip to Rajasthan, do get in touch. We’d love to assist with your arrangements, and as experts in private, luxury tailor-made tours of this region we’re the ideal match. For inspiration on the possibilities, we recommend taking a look at our sample itineraries – our Oberoi, Leela and Taj Luxury Rajasthan Tour is a great starting point. But remember, all our tours are tailor-made to our guest’s tastes and requirements – every aspect is flexible and will be designed around you.0