At Shiv Niwas Palace, luxury comes cherried with unforgettable experiences, never experienced before riches, hospitality worth a million smiles, comfort worth longing for and an enviable view of Lake Pichola. The crescent shaped Shiv Niwas palace, built in the early 20th century, in the reign of Maharana Fateh Singh, is one of the two courteous hotels on the banks of the Lake Pichola. The hotel is clothed in authentic royal charm; a big palatial door leads you to the lobby area, with a cobbled path on the right leading you to the imposing City Palace and the left to an area where heritage rooms are decked up. The Shiv Niwas Palace was used as a royal residence and guest house for some time before being opened as a hotel by Maharana Bhagwat Singh in 1982. The hotel shot to fame not long after, being shot in the James Bond movie Octopussy. Bond stayed there on his way to Octopussy’s island. Fans will not have a tough time recognizing the magical patio area with the swimming pool where James Bond was shown relaxing in the movie.
I was lucky to be invited for a travel trip to Udaipur by the HRH group and stayed in one of their suits at Shiv Niwas Palace. A long winded road takes you to the entrance gate of this royal charm. The hotel has bagged three National Tourism Awards for best heritage hotel in the “Heritage Grand” category. A look at the hotel and you know your stay here, will be finely etched in your memory lanes. Shiv Niwas Palace takes you to the eras gone by. It’s a time travel, living the romantics of those ages.
The imposing square shaped, beige walls and majestic arches, intricately carved pillars and pavilions, beautiful domes and the ever freshening Lake and the intimacy of the huge walls of the City Palace in the foreground maybe far removed from the ‘minimalism’ that is worshiped as design today, yet are elegant and mesmerizing. For minutes, I stood there in awe gauging the finesse of design of the Palace; before moving to the room and settling down, I took the camera and took a tour of the palace, not missing to capture the elegant shades of it.
(Read about my stay in Udaipur, here)
The palace has been built in a semi-circular shape around an internal courtyard, in a judicious mix of Rajputana and European style of architecture. The Rajputana jhalis and verandahas have been designed to beautifully coexist with glass mosaics and frescos. The hotel is a delight to explore, with my favourite being the top terrace, overlooking the swimming pool on one side and Lake Pichola and mountains on the other and the reveling balconies, domed pavilions, and tucked away courtyards make your day.
The rooms come with their own class of luxury, spacious with a small private verandah, exquisite cutlery and prized carpets to boast of. And if you lucky, you might be overlooking the floating marvel of the city, the Lake Palace or be greeted with a view of Jag Mandir, another enchanting royal palace on the lake. Or, if you aren’t that lucky to be looking at the Lake, you might just be capturing some captivating shots of the Udaipur City from your verandah. Even the interiors do not fail – the rich paintings and fine interiors leave you marveling at the deftness in art of the Rajput Kings.
Staying: The time of year you chose to stay in hotel makes all the difference in the budget.In the off season, when the occupancy rates are low, there are huge chances that you might avail a heavy discount of upto 50% of the rates. Very generous discounts are offered during the summer monsoon season from April 1 until September 30. I would recommend planning in the month September, when the temperatures are nice, chances of a downpour low and crowd in the city almost absent. And what could be a better icing on the cake that you might even get an upgrade.
Rooms: The Shiv Niwas Palace hotel has 19 rooms with city views, and 17 suites with views over the lake or the city of Udaipur. The palace room is priced at INR 12000 a day, while the lake view suites come at INR 24000 a day. But if money isn’t an issue and you are in a mood to have a luxurious holiday, the three Imperial suite could be your choice. Priced at a whopping INR 80000 a day, Imperial suite is a place carved to find a mention in fairy tales. At such a price, it seems likely to be out of the budget of most people, however, during the monsoons, you can still afford to stay in this palace of dreams at almost a fraction of this cost, and that too including your royal breakfast.
Food: There are two restaurants in the hotel, with each deserving a sumptuous adjective to be placed before it. There is a European styled café, Palki Khana, in front of the City Palace Museum and a multi-cuisine restaurant Paantya next to the pool. But without a doubt, the most ambient place in the hotel to have a lavish meal is the Lake side restaurant in the Fateh Sagar Palace. If you’re looking to have a romantic evening with your loved one, this is the place! The restaurant is warmly illuminated by the moonlight, with the floating Lake Palace and the Jagmandir in the background and soft strains of live classical music, makes for alfresco dining at its best.
Also see the timelapse, to captivate some beautiful shots of Udaipur.