I TRAVELLED: with my family and two kids
TYPE OF TRAVEL: Child-Friendly, Luxury trip
FOR: 5 days
DATES: March-April 2021
PRICE POINT: $$$
UDAIPUR – THE CITY OF LAKES AT OBEROI UDAIVILLAS
After several weeks of working, homeschooling and all the other chores and activities that fill my days, I was certainly in need of some rest and recreation. Udaipur had been on our ‘to-do’ list for a while so we decided to seize the moment and book our Easter break at the very plush Oberoi Udaivillas. An exhausted family of four (two adults, two kids) we wanted to stay somewhere where our every wish would be attended to and that in luxurious surroundings but we also highly appreciate the arts and history (total culture vultures) so we wanted to come back feeling like we had learned something. Udaipur was just that! A fine balance of relaxation and a very easy-to-navigate city steeped in historical beauty.
We boarded a 10 AM Indigo flight from Bangalore airport, the flight was not too busy and everyone was wearing a mask. I had the task of sitting in between my two children (in-flight sibling rivalry really is a thing!) – so as the middle person I was required to wear the full-on PPE (mask, face shield and tie up gown) while the rest of the clan kept themselves and others safe with an N95 mask. Two hours later and just as I finished off my Maggi masala noodles, we landed in Udaipur, a very small and easy to navigate airport, we collected our bags instantly and our hotel car was ready and waiting for us. A short 40 minute drive through the city and we entered the peaceful and serene gates of the Oberoi Udaivillas.
WHERE TO STAY
Having been in India for a while, I have got used to (and admittedly rather like) being greeted with a flower garland being put around my neck but obviously, these are socially distanced times we are living in, so instead, rose petals were thrown down on us as we walked through the atrium to the check-in desk (did I just officially become Royalty for the next 5 nights?)
Oberoi Udaivillas, www.oberoi.com
WHAT TO DO
The Oberoi Udaivillas is set on over 30 Acres of land, so there are many areas to explore as a family and when you’re tired of walking around, you can find lots of secluded spots to sit and take a rest while the kids can freely run around without disturbing any other hotel guests. The bonus for us was that the hotel had organised plenty of Easter themed activities for the children, from painting eggs, to cooking master classes and even a good old Easter Egg hunt. So even though it would have been easy to while away our time sitting poolside on our private terrace, sipping cocktails and admiring the mesmerizing panoramic views of Lake Pichola – there was also plenty to entice us out of the hotel and into the city.
A BOAT RIDE ACROSS LAKE PICHOLA
By far one of the most beautiful lakes I have come across, makes this boat ride a definite ‘must do’ while in Udaipur. Serene and picturesque, I found this to be a very calming experience. It’s also a very easy thing to do with two children as we boarded the small boat from a stone’s throw away from the hotel, the staff onboard are very experienced and professional and clean life vests were all provided just in case. The hotel can also add on a guided Heritage Walking Tour to this boat trip, where you will see smaller, lesser-known historical narrow lanes and monuments.
A GUIDED TOUR OF CITY PALACE
The largest of its kind in the state of Rajasthan, the City Palace is definitely a ‘must see’ and we are glad that the hotel arranged a guide to take us around as there is so much history steeped in this place and so many magical stories that really makes this an immersive experience. It was built over the span of 400 years and was also a location for the filming of the famous James Bond movie Octopussy – need I say more?
There are a lot of Temples to visit in Udaipur but with two children there was a limit to how many times we could drag them away from swimming and eating ice cream so we visited 3 Temples over the span of the 5 days we were there which I think is a pretty good compromise. With our tour guide we visited Eklingji Temple, Sahastrabahu Temple and Mahakaleshwar Temple. All were beautiful and enlightening in their own way and never too busy, we specifically asked the tour guide to take us during quiet times to avoid potential crowds.
Throwing in a bit of unintended retail therapy is never a bad thing, especially when you happen to ‘stumble’ upon the local gems dealer. The emerald stone is found in plenty in Rajasthan, which means it can be cheaper to buy than in other states. Always good to come back with a bargain I say!
Souvenir and trinket shops are everywhere and easy to find so you will always find something to take back with you but do check out Hath Boli Bazaar for traditional handicrafts, Bada Bazaar for Rajasthani style clothes, shoes and accessories or Rajasthali Emporium for textiles and home furnishings.
I wasn’t going to leave this hotel without some much-needed pampering and I must say The Spa at Oberoi Udaivillas was absolutely superb. Although facials were not offered because of the pandemic, I felt very safe during the 90-minute massage as all staff adhered to mask-wearing and hand sanitising and everywhere was spotlessly clean.
WHAT TO EAT
We wanted to spend as much time in the Oberoi Udaivillas as we possibly could so all our meals, breakfast, lunch, dinner (and snacks in between) were all taken care of at the hotel. Most nights we enjoyed al freso dining overlooking the Lake Pichola to the sound of live Rajasthani music and beautiful dances performed by some of the best traditional dancers I have seen while being in India. Every night the dancers were dressed in different traditional clothes and stories of love are told through song – it really did feel like we were going back in time as noblemen and women of Udaipur! The best bit is that it’s so child friendly and nothing was ever too much for the staff there but yet they don’t feel overbearing either. My children can be quite fussy eaters who prefer food to be very plain and bland (all hell breaks loose if they see an onion!) so it was great that the staff would prepare everything exactly as we required or would gladly take something away and re-make it as needed. There was always a high chair ready and colouring sheets and crayons were always provided. It was nice that my husband and I actually got to eat and even have a chat all because the staff were so quick to respond to my children’s needs.
We often found ourselves in The Bar enjoying the traditional Rajasthani interiors of archways and domes, not to mention the great cocktail list! Children were kept entertained with a good range of family board games and on a couple of occasions staff greeted us with offerings of sweets and locally crafted wooden toys! A really lovely gesture that put an even bigger smile on my children’s faces. There was something for everyone whether it was for pre-dinner drinks or an after dinner nightcap.
Breakfast was exquisite to say the least, a very delicious range of Indian and Continental options, what would normally be a self serve buffet style was actually served by staff and there was the choice to eat outdoors on the beautiful terrace under sun guarding canopies which made you feel all the more safer.
As a family who mark Easter as a major holiday we were delighted that the Head Chef who has spent years working in a 5 star equivalent in Scotland had specially prepared a full on Eater Sunday Roast Dinner for us – complete with roast lamb, roast potatoes and gravy! To top it all off my husband was so happy when the chef came out personally to serve up apple crumble and hot custard – a British favourite that has been hard to come by in India (although we never turn down a round of pitaschio kheer and carrot halwa – that too was very good!)
FASHION AND STYLE TIPS FOR UDAIPUR
If you visit Udaipur during the Easter Break then be prepared for the temperatures to be quite high – this sleeved two-piece could be a good option to keep your shoulders, back and chest area from burning…. Alternatively, if sunburn isn’t too much of a concern then you could always opt for the cross backed one-piece swimsuit – strappy back details are currently very en vogue, either way these bright blue or teal hues will have you looking as pretty as the peacocks that roam the Oberoi Udaivillas grounds.
Both are available from The Summerhouse www.thesummerhouse.in
If you’re anything like me then you will know that no holiday is complete without some time (preferably hours) laying by the pool, accompanied by a cocktail while listening to your favourite podcast or audio book. Chilling out is my favourite pastime but while I’m on vacay I sure want to look good while doing it!
Stylish yet practical, these wrap around earrings can be worn with air pods earphones (hallelujah!) – a chic and subtle bit of ‘bling’ that is the perfect accessory to this light and understated overlay.
Earrings available at Misho www.mishodesigns.com
Ivory Overlay by Ahmev available at Ogaan www.ogaan.com
Dressing conservatively when visiting the temples is often the case all over India. Although covering up completely from head to toe is not required, I would recommend something with sleeves but not necessarily a floor length gown. The ground is often dusty and in some places a little muddy and also there are quite a few steps to navigate so I would suggest opting for a below the knee dress or cropped palazzos. Something bright and colourful is always seen as charming in India and this ‘roomy’ red dress has the practical element of having pockets – in my opinion, pockets on everything are an absolute must when going anywhere with children, especially when you will be walking a lot and want to avoid carrying the extra weight of a hand bag. For that exact reason I would highly advise flat shoes. This dress paired with these woven sandals proves that you can make a style statement and be comfortable at the same time.
Dress available at Jodi www.thejodilife.com
Woven Sandals available at Cai www.thecaistore.com
DRESS FOR DINNER
Effortless style is definitely what I anchor towards when holidaying anywhere – thankfully for me the Oberoi Udaivillas didn’t have any strict dress codes or expectations of anyone, but the stunning surroundings and beautiful ambience certainly made me feel like I wanted to compliment that. The key here I would say is to opt for something that’s not overly dramatic yet gives hints of someone who takes pride in how they look – this loose fitting dress with metallic threads running through it creates the perfect blend of evening glamour and comfort. Accessorizing with a modern take on traditional style earrings and a metallic block heel creates the right combination for an effortlessly chic dinner date.
Multicoloured Printed Maxi Dress by VERB by Pallavi Singhee available at Pernia’s Pop Up Shop www.perniaspopupshop.com
Drop in the Sea Earrings available at Hannan www.shophannan.in
Bling Ring Heels available at Cai www.thecaistore.com