by Hallie Campbell, The Daily Telegraph, January 5, 2016
When the Mewar dynasty founded Udaipur in the 16th century, its enchanting series of lakes made it an ideal oasis from Rajasthan’s dry desert landscape. Over the centuries, the rulers built a series of glittering palaces and pleasure pavilions along the shore of Lake Pichola. Though recently built, The Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur was inspired by this tradition and is one of India’s most extravagant and beautiful resorts.
The Kohinoor Suite is the jewel in the Udaivilas crown. Named after the fabled diamond, it aims to recreate the lavish lifestyle the Mewar dynasty rulers enjoyed for centuries. Everything reflects the best in traditional Indian design, from the ornate patri brasswork of the majestic front entrance doors to the glittering thekri mirrored mosaics, which reflect the light from the crystal chandeliers.
The suite's entrance foyer
The royal palace at Udaipur was renowned for its remarkable collection of crystal chandeliers and fittings, and Oberoi is continuing the tradition. Even the pearl-like lustre of the walls and columns is created by hand, using ghutai, an ancient mixture of lime plaster, crushed marble, egg white and tamarind unique to the region. A magnificent pair of carved stone horse heads is a reminder of the legendary horsemanship of the Mewar rulers. On the walls, delightful pictures done in the traditional Mewar style of miniature painting reveal scenes of royal pastimes.
The suite's master bathroom
The sybaritic white marble master bathroom features a steam shower as well as an oversized freestanding tub just perfect for long soaks in rose-scented bubble baths. The massive mahogany four-poster bed reveals cloud-soft pillows and feather-light down duvets. This is where you can wake up to the sound of hoopoe birds calling across the garden as an immaculate turbaned Jeeves brings a warming up of masala chai to sip in bed.
Thoughtful touches create the sense of being truly at home, even in such splendid surroundings. There’s a pretty window seat beneath triple lobed arches, a writing desk worthy of Kipling, fresh oriental lilies blooming by the bedside table.
On the coffee table are glossy books on Indian art and design, while bowls of fresh flowers punctuate the room with bursts of colour. Two marble fireplaces make for cosy evenings. Nothing vulgar, flash or over the top distracts from the pleasure of the setting
The living room
While the interiors are a showcase for refined sensibility and comfort, it is the exterior that truly puts the Kohinoor Suite in a class of its own. Looking out into the private bathroom garden, a hand-painted fresco of a splendid caparisoned elephant parades across the wall, framed by rambling jasmine vines.
The suite’s majestic terrace makes the most of the natural beauty of Udaipur’s fabled landscape. Gaze out across the gardens leading to the lake, with the rolling dusty blue Aravalli Hills in the distance, once the setting for royal wild boar hunts. Iridescent peacocks strut past with their insouciant gait, and in the distance darting white spotted deer can be glimpsed.
The best place from which to enjoy this timeless vista is under the great tented daybed swathed in traditional Rajasthani woodblock prints, a cool glass of nimbu pani to hand, or you could dine al fresco on your terrace, accompanied by the soothing sounds of water playing in the fountains.
The suite's bedroom
The spectacular 21-metre private pool runs the length of the terrace, and features an ethereal white marble lotus that looks as if it is floating effortlessly on top. Coming home from an evening out in Udaipur’s intriguing, bustling centre, it’s heaven to slip into the water and gaze at the midnight blue sky full of stars. If you’re lucky, there will be a full moon bathing the lake in a silvery glow, while on the far shore, the crenelated ramparts of the ancient City Palace keep watch.
The Oberoi Udaivilas Udaipur Kohinoor Suite sleeps 2, measures 2,650sq ft and costs from INR1,089,000 (£13,000) per night.
This article was written by Hallie Campbell from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.