Very few define luxe hospitality the way Raffles Udaipur does. Travel + Leisure India & South Asia discovers inner peace, serenity, and curated experiences at this private island in Udaipur on a cover shoot with global influencer Masoom Minawala. By Chirag Mohanty Samal
Produced by Aindrila Mitra
Photographed by The House Of Pixels
Styled by Anaita Shroff Adajania
Assisted by Chandani Mehta
Makeup & Hair by Maniasha; Faze Management
Assisted by Nazra
Location: Raffles Udaipur
As I stepped into the battery-operated wooden boat waiting along the bank of lake Udai Sagar, my mind instinctively drifted towards WB Yeats, the English poet and his Lake Isle of Innisfree. Yeats famously wrote about inner peace, sanctuary, and serenity that he found on a small island located in County Sligo, Ireland. I was off to a secluded, private island too. Would I find my inner peace there? I looked expectantly at the brightly lit edifice situated on the island at a distance. I was staring at Raffles Udaipur, the uber luxury property that opened gates in India last year. It stood like a fascinating vision at dusk.
The boat, almost magically, smoothly sailed towards it, and all I could hear was the chirping of birds. The calmness made my mind drift towards Yeats again. I snapped out of my reverie when the boatman urged me to step out on the jetty. The majestic property that greeted me didn’t bear any resemblance to Yeats’ austere abode on the island but carried an uncanny sense of peace and tranquillity. The main structure looked like a blend of a stately English country house and the palace of an erstwhile Mughal ruler. However, a quick scan threw up some global references. For instance, the manicured Baroque lawns near the entrance were reminiscent of the elaborate gardens at the Buckingham Palace in London or Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, and the pair of obelisks next to the gardens were inspired from Egyptian mythology and stood their ground as symbols of balance and harmony.
Spread over 21 acres of a private island, Raffles Udaipur has lush green landscapes, ornamental gardens, and panoramic views of the surrounding lake, hills, and a 400-year-old temple. While offering guests enough options to connect with nature, it also allows them to experience a slice of extravagance on a remote island.
On reaching the lobby, I am welcomed with a delicious drink and ushered to my room. At Raffles Udaipur, you don’t wait around at the reception for check-ins. The check-in formalities are done in the comfort of your room, and quickly. Luxury doesn’t inconvenience anyone. The hotel has 101 rooms, suites, and signature suites that artfully fuse Western cultural elements with Rajasthan’s rich heritage and facets of Mughal architecture. Expect to find vintage Victorian furniture, local Rajasthani woodwork, and stunning Mughal murals here. The suites on the ground floor come with private plunge pools, cabanas, and a private garden, while those upstairs come with spacious balconies overlooking the lake and the Aravalli range.
Raffles Udaipur, an oasis of luxury and calm is a union of global aesthetics and local flavour and served as the perfect destination for our August cover shoot with Masoom Minawala — a global influencer, content creator, and entrepreneur. On asking what impressed her the most at the property, she was quick to reply, “Besides the magnificent architecture, the warmth and the hospitality.” And we couldn’t agree more.
Private Services And Experiences
When it comes to luxury services, the discreet butler service here earns a thumping approval. The personal butlers assigned to the suites take care of every little requirement of the guests. From running the bath water to creating special moments, they do it all. Nirmal Kumar Singh, the head butler at Raffles Udaipur, shared, “The butlers [here] are trained to deliver tailor-made experiences. One of our guests wanted to celebrate life, so we organised a special day that started with a meditation session, a walk through the green landscapes followed by high tea at one of the sunset points with spectacular views.”
With the onset of the pandemic, we have all become more conscientious of how and often why we travel, and well-being tops the list. Responding to this increased interest in wellness, Raffles Udaipur has programmes aimed at healing the body, mind, and spirit. Case in point is the Raffles Spa that offers signature therapies and personalised treatments. The Alchemy Bar at the spa lets guests create their own scrubs and packs. The spa manager was candid, “The idea of Alchemy Bar [was born because] guests are sometimes allergic to certain ingredients in the ready-made scrubs and they [cannot do] the therapies. But now, [you] can choose [your] own ingredients to create [your] own scrubs.” And that’s not all—the therapists are trained to administer massages that can release any traces of negative energy or stress in the body.
The dining experiences at the hotel are also in line with the larger aim of a holistic rejuvenation. Singh says, “The chefs not only create personalised menus as per the dietary requirements of the guests but also provide food options based on the zodiac signs of the diners to further enhance their well-being.” The dining area is divided into three parts–Raffles Patisserie with alfresco dining, Rasoi, the cookery school and Sawai Kitchen, serving Indian speciality. From long lost royal recipes and regional dishes made from organic farm produce to global cuisines and desserts, these three restaurants together offer a wide range of food.
The hotel doesn’t run out of options to please its well-travelled guests. For the discerning bibliophiles who like a good drink along with a good read, there’s The Writers Bar—a striking floor-to-ceiling library that houses close to 1,000 books and serves artisanal cocktails. If you’re in the mood to socialise, the iconic Long Bar is an apt destination. You can pick from the Indian spirits, single malts, and local brews on offer, or better still, try the signature Udaipur Sling–the gin cocktail made with local produce and home-made syrups.
Raffles Udaipur has undoubtedly turned this tiny island into one of the most opulent destinations in India. But what stayed with me was the riveting story of the couple—that the locals believe whole-heartedly—who had set up home on the island, long before it became a beacon of luxury. According to folklore, the island was gifted by a Rajasthani courtier to his daughter, who fell in love with an English tradesman. The young couple built a house and a farm and lived on the island. The original house, a symbol of love, still exists on the property. It has been renovated and christened The Residence. It stands proudly just next to the Long Bar. As the sun set, painting the sky pink and orange, my mind found its way back to the stories of the couple and the legacy of romance that they left behind on this tiny island, further adding a touch of enchantment to this modern-day architecture marvel.
Getting To Raffles Udaipur
Multiple airlines, including Vistara, Air India, and IndiGo, operate direct flights to Udaipur from multiple Indian cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Pune. The resort also offers airport shuttle services to guests staying at the property.
Raffles Udaipur is a royal getaway overlooking the enchanting Udai Sagar Lake and the Aravali ranges. The uber luxury resort is an oasis of calm, and offers unparalleled culinary experiences. It is also a part of the Accor’s Lifestyle Loyalty Programme, ALL–Accor Live Limitless. Doubles from INR 40,000++