A gem in Udaipur
by Yianni Hill and Kamina Couch
15 June 2009
Hotel Udai Khoti
O/S Chand Pole, Hanuman Ghat Marg
On Pichola Lake, Udaipur
We touched down in Udaipur, earlier in our India trip than we had anticipated. A cancellation to our overnight train, from Varanasi to Agra due to fog, meant getting out of the city by rail was going to be a gamble. With only a short stay in India, and many places we wished to visit, we decided to book ourselves on a flight via Delhi to Udaipur.
Touching down late one evening, we were looking forward to our next perspective of the country. Udaipur certainly offered a relaxed contrast to the chaos of the Delhi streets and the cremation spectacle of Varanasi. This contrast was exaggerated by our choice of hotel – the Udai Kothi, situated on the banks of Lake Pichola.
As a former palace, the Udai Kothi combines old world luxury with modern sophistication. Our room, though crowded with furniture, still felt spacious and tranquil. At the heart of the room stood a four poster bed complete with embroidered drapery. The addition of a bay window with seating overlooking the carefully manicured garden was one aspect that made us feel this accommodation was not simply somewhere to sleep, but a place to experience. A feeling exemplified by the spread of fresh fruit, flowers and biscuits each time we returned to our room.
Wandering upstairs to the rooftop, we discovered one of Udaipur's hidden treasures - a rooftop restaurant situated by a spectacularly lit pool (open for a day panoramic swim as well) with views across the city. The traditional Indian food, the attentive waiters and the candle lit ambiance furthered the sense that Udai Kothi was not simply a hotel but an Udaipur highlight. We enjoyed our time so much that a two night stay happily turned into three days experience.
We seriously deliberated why not to just spend in Udai Khoti all three of our Udaipur night, however, in the interest of discovery, we meandered through Udaipur's dark backstreets to stumble upon the Ambrai restaurant. Hidden in one of the less touristy areas of town, the Hanuman Ghat, Ambrai revealed itself as one of the many nice surprises of the city. The location is breathtaking, the tables are scattered beneath lantern filled branches overlooking the Lake Palace, Lal Ghat and City Palace.
It is predominantly this view, from the Ambrai's unique water level position, that makes it one of Udaipur's highlights, but the traditional cuisine accompanied by gentle Indian melodies are the perfect compliment. Dishes are generous, reasonably priced and the restaurant also offers Continental and Chinese food. If you're going in winter, remember to rug up as the outdoor heating doesn't make its way to every table. But, even in a chilly January evening, don't miss the chance of a visit to this gem.