The Leela Palace, Udaipur

Aditya and I just returned from what can only be described as our second honeymoon. Udaipur for me has always been one of the most romantic destinations in India. We decided to visit the Leela Palace Udaipur for a weekend getaway. Udaipur is easily accessible from Mumbai – a quick one hour fifteen-minute flight away.

While the property is a no-brainer for destination weddings in the winter months, it also makes for a lovely wellness or romantic getaway for couples. Spend time rejuvenating at The Spa, opt for private yoga lessons, enjoy boat rides on the lake, take a dip in the pool and enjoy tailor made meals by their in-house chefs made with fresh ingredients.

The Leela Palace Udaipur is a spectacular modern-day palace, with luxurious accommodation, delicious fine dining options and superb hospitality and service. Set on the tranquil Lake Pichola with iconic views of the City, and Lake Palace as well as the Aravali range.

Day 1
We arrive at the airport and are immediately whisked away in a BMW to a charming little pier where we catch a boat and set course over the lake to stunning modern-day palace otherwise known as The Leela Palace, Udaipur. After a warm traditional greeting, with traditional folk music, rose petals and garlands, we are escorted to our room. Our luxurious duplex suite, Swaran Mahal, has its very own plunge pool, sit out area and spacious living room decked with Indian artwork. We are appointed a butler, Palak, a lovely young lady from Himachal Pradesh, who talks us through our itinerary.

Chef Simran brings us a light, nutritious lunch. We are served a Mesclun Salad with Sous Vide Country Chicken which he explains is made with fresh greens plucked from the hotel’s hydroponic farm just after we placed the order. There is a Watermelon and Feta Cheese Salad, made with farmed Rajasthan melons, aged Greek feta, organic cucumbers and garden fresh rucola and a delicious Tortellini with Amaranth Greens and Himalayan Cheese. The tortellini is enriched with millet flour and cage free eggs that enhances the nutrition of this preparation. Dessert is a Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Orange & Passion Blossom, which is completely sugar free.

I set up a yoga class for us, which was held in a peaceful garden surrounded by pink and white Bougainvillaea, overlooking the lake. It was an absolute treat to do our aasanas and pranayamas in this incredibly serene and beautiful setting. We sipped on our cucumber infused detox water after our session and watched the sun set.

Later that evening Palak escorts us to the inner courtyard of the hotel, where we participate in the hotel’s daily diya lighting ceremony, followed by folk music and dance. The soulful folk music performed by the Langaar’s, reverberates through the hotel. We are invited on stage for a dance too! Once the performance is through we make our way to the Library Bar for cocktails and then walk across to Sheesh Mahal, the hotel’s fine dining, outdoor, two-story restaurant. Dinner was set up privately for us on the terrace level of the restaurant. As we looked across the incredibly still lake Pichola we could see the Lake and City Palace all lit up, it was surreal – and incredibly romantic. We met Neetu ji who sits at the restaurant kneading and preparing fresh rotis. So as soon as you order them she begins the preparation and you can enjoy your bajra or makai ki roti straight off the tava. Neetu ji works as a female security official for the hotel during the day – I love the hotel’s initiative of empowering women! Chef Rupak prepared a decadent four course contemporary Indian meal playing with Indian flavours. We were served tender Kebabs, Mulligatawny soup, an assortment of Indian favourites ( Laal Maas and Kali Dal for Aditya and lots of delicious veggies for me) and trio of deserts (including a divine kulfi). We slept very well that night.

Day 2
We spent some time by the hotel’s pool this morning and then wandered over to the spa. The Spa, is a tented luxury wellness centre that overlooks the lake. I selected the ayurvedic Abyangam massage (one of my favourites), great for detoxing, toning, and revitalization.

Lunch was beautifully set up outside The Spa, right by the lake. We were served a light lunch of quinoa salad, Minestrone soup and warm goat cheese on millet bread. Dessert for me was a slice of pistachio cake ( gluten free) and chocolate crunch for Aditya. Chef Rupak wanted to keep lunch light as we were to have the Maharaja Thali for dinner.

I spent the rest of the day wandering around the property and relaxing in the room.

Later that evening, we got ready for our evening at Sheesh Mahal. We were escorted to another private section of the restaurant. The set up was stunning and romantic. We dined in the glow of candlelight and enjoyed our traditional meal.

We were served the elaborate Maharaja Thali which consisted of all the Rajasthani specialties; gatte ki kadhi, ker sangria, dal baati churma and more.

Day 3
We zipped up our bags and went down for breakfast, which was set up in the inner courtyard of the hotel.

Chef Simran served us a wellness breakfast, which included immunity booster shots, sorgham rava idli and avocado on millet bread. A musician sat on one end of the courtyard playing the flute.

Before leaving for the airport we went to the temple for a quick ritual. The temple has been around for 100 years, from before the Leela was built. The pandit ji ( priest) performed a puja and told me that the temple was very auspicious and known to make all your wishes come true. I made a wish, let’s hope it comes true. We got into our boat and waved good bye to the team!

Whenever I visit a Leela property, I am always so blown away by the attention to detail, hospitality and of course – the food!

For me it is always about the people you meet and interact with on vacation that enrich your experience and the team at The Leela Udaipur did exactly that with their warmth and care.

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