In this post I bring you a video of Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur, Rajasthan. I was damn lucky to stay there. I have been lucky with travel in general for this year. This week I have been at home, so I started counting the number of trips I have done so far. The tally stands at 10. The trips have been of small duration, but I am not complaining.
However, when you travel frequently, all the trips start merging with each-other. I detest that. I used to flip through the pictures but I now end up clicking so many pictures that it has become a task like anything else.
Making a short video out of my most favored clips is the only way now to refresh the memories in a few minutes. So here we go, with the video of my stay at the Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur.
The trip feels as surreal today as it felt when I was there. I still believe that I will remember this stay at the Umaid Bhawan Palace when I grow old. This was the only time in my life when I used a tripod to include myself in the frame! On second thoughts, maybe I should make a habit of it!
This was also the time when I consumed Champagne by the buckets. As I am alone on most of the trips, and I hate to make a nuisance of myself, I have a self imposed limit of two glasses of wine. Here instead of changing the glass they would top up the glass!
I missed out on two things during my stay. I did not go for a swim in the outdoor pool. And I missed out on the evening shots of the Mehrangrh Fort from the palace! And I can’t even say I will go back again!
What do you have to say about these short videos?
PS. My trip to Umaid Bhawan Palace was sponsored by Tripadvisor and the Taj Hotels.
In my excitement of staying at the Maharani Suite, I completely neglected my stay at the Royal Suite at Umaid Bhawan Palace. It is time to rectify that mistake and to reminisce my stay at hotel in general.
The welcome at the Umaid Bhawan Palace is grand. They line up horses, they greet you with phool mala at the entrance, they throw rose petals on your path, they do a welcome dance in the main lobby and hand you champagne! Even though I had read about it on Tripadvisor before going, I was still completely floored.
The Royal Suite at Umaid Bhawan Palace
The Royal Suite is actually a cozy room! It has a living area, the bedroom, a balcony, a wardrobe area and a lavish bathroom. While it is tempting to try and compare it with the Maharani Suite, I will resist it. In the season a Royal Suite at Umaid Bhawan Palace goes at about 1.25 lakhs (1825 dollars, no typo) per day. The bottle of wine is complimentary.
The Swimming Pools at the Umaid Bhawan Palace
The palace has an fabulous indoor swimming pool from the time the palace was built. It is heated. I was lucky to have it for a morning all to myself. The staff on duty was quite worried initially as the pool is deep, but after a few laps they realized I would do fine!
I didn’t have time to go for a swim in the outdoor swimming pool. The the view of the Mehrangarh Fort from the pool is fabulous. Do go with a tripod if you wish to take an evening shot. I realized it too late, when I was almost about to leave.
The most surprising part of the breakfast was the champagne with orange juice! It was a first for me, but then I was staying at a palace! So it was alright to drink champagne at breakfast.
I tried both Indian and continental breakfast (on different days) and they were good!
The Jiva, Spa
I went for an aromatherapy full body massage and it was one hour of pure bliss. I had a spa in the Maharani Suite but it didn’t occur to me to get it done in the suite itself! I went to the main spa, which is on the same floor as the indoor swimming pool.
The Old Lift
After eating all the food and wine, I kept to the stairs strictly and I went to the lift only to click a picture. The lifts at retain the old look even though the lever mechanism is no longer in use.
Of Lobbies and Mirrors
The view from the stairs that led to the Maharani Suite was grand. This lobby is closer to the entrance but the main lobby with its high dome is grander still!
There are a lot of mirrors in the corridors and within the suites. Even without trying I would catch a glimpse of myself every few minutes. Now at home there is just one full length mirror! I wonder if I had more mirrors at home, would I care about my appearance more?
It has been a little more than a month since I visited Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur but the memories still bring a smile to my face. The whole trip has this unreal feel to it!
PS. I was invited on this trip by Tripadvisor and the Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces.
Tripadvisor recently announced its Travelers Choice Awards for 2016 and Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur won the best hotel in the world award based on user reviews! Umaid Bhawan Palace is managed by Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces.
I attended the award ceremony and the invite came in a very curious way! They had to invite media/bloggers to the function without revealing the name of the hotel till the award was formally announced! The young PR lady asked me if I would like to visit a very exclusive property somewhere in India? My answer was yes but when asked for more she told me, “Ma’am I can’t tell you anything more at the moment.” I still said yes to the trip and I am glad I did.
The award ceremony took place at the sprawling lawns of the Umaid Bhawan Palace. H.H. Maharaja Gaj Singh ji along with his daughter Shivranjini accepted the award. Nikhil Ganju, country head, Tripadvisor India was there to present the award. Media from Rajasthan and other parts of India were invited to attend the ceremony. Yours truly was present as a travel blogger.
Vincent Ramos, the general manager of the property, introduced me to the Maharaja. He said, “Bapji this is Mridula, she is a travel blogger.” I folded my hands, not sure if I was supposed to shake hands with a Maharaja or not. He offered his hand for a handshake! And then he asked, “So what is a travel blogger?” I tried my best to explain but I am sure he was not impressed!
During the question answer session I asked Nikhil about their methodology for calculating the awards. He said they were completely based on user reviews, there was no editorial element involved in it. They have an algorithm which calculated it. Then I asked if there was a huge difference in the scores, say between first and second place, to which he said no, the scores were quite close to each-other!
The award ceremony was followed by a sumptuous Rajasthani Dinner for the media. Vincent was our host for the evening. Champagne was the choice of the drink! I regulate my alcohol consumption quite closely and I stop by the third glass absolutely, but this party was an exception! I would be busy talking to Nikhil, Suhasini (from Taj), Angad (Forbes India) or Vincent and suddenly I would realize my 1/4 full glass was completely full again without me ever knowing it!
There was excitement in the air, both Vincent and Nikhil were thrilled at the award! Vincent was narrating the phone calls he was getting from the global media and the kind of questions that came up. Someone wanted to know the number of the peacocks within the property whereas another person needed convincing that Jaipur and Jodhpur were two separate places!
For me it was a blessed evening, to sit in the courtyard with the fabulous food, wine and company to enjoy the glorious view of the Umaid Bhawan Palace!
Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur won the number one spot globally in the Tripadvisor Traveler’s Choice Awards, 2016. I was invited by Tripadvisor India to be a part of the award ceremony. On the second night of my two night sojourn, I stayed in the Maharani Badankanwar Suite, Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur. I will actually reminisce that night even when I grow old! Umaid Bhawan Palace is managed by Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces.
While we were raising the toast to the hotel on its stunning win, the General Manager of the hotel, Vincent Ramos, asked if one us would like to stay in the Maharani Suite? He casually mentioned that the room rent for the suite is 8 lakh rupees (about 11800 dollars) per night. Some of the previous occupants of this suite were Price Charles, The Dalai Lama, Naomi Campbell, Shakira and the like. I didn’t react at the dinner. We all had a lot of champagne!
But when I met Vincent at the breakfast again, I asked him if I could actually stay in the Maharani Suite for one night? He readily agreed, so it was not the champagne talking the previous night after all! I was going to the city after the breakfast. Vincent told me to pack my bags and when I would come back, I would have the Maharani Suite all to myself.
If square foot makes sense to you, the size of the suite is 4850 square foot! All I can say is that if I left my cell phone in the dining area which was at the one end, I would not hear it at the other end in the bath! The Maharani Suite at the Umaid Bhawan Palace is that big! When the royal family of Jodhpur used to live in the palace, this was actually the Maharani’s room! And if you are curious as to how I got in the picture when I was staying alone, I used the tripod with the camera timer to get myself in the frame!
The Living Room, Maharani Suite, Umaid Bhawan Palace
This is the best I could capture the living room of the Maharani Suite. At the back of the photo you can see a bit of the dining area. There was a complimentary bottle of wine in the dining area waiting for me. I actually sat alone in this huge area and had a glass! I loved the color of the room. And in spite of using a 11-16 wide angle I could not get the TV in the same frame.
The Private Dining Area, Maharani Suite, Umaid Bhawan Palace
The table was laid for ten people with candles, silverware and glass crystals. I admit I went into the dining area only to click the photo and to get my glasses of wine. There is a pantry behind the dining room and I did not even photograph it. It is meant for the use of the butler!
The Private Spa, Maharani Suite, Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur
Then there was a private couple spa within the suite if you wish to indulge in! I would stop in this room often as it was between the bedroom and the bathroom. The Jiva Spa is amazing but then I went down to the spa and did not take my massage in this room. I now feel I should have requested for the spa session here!
The Bathroom, Maharani Suite, Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur
The main bathtub is the original from the time of the maharani! It is single piece bathtub made of Italian marble. I actually used both the tub and the Jacuzzi! I know I promised myself to use bathtubs only once in my entire stay anywhere in the world and not twice within the same night but then this was a huge exception!
After I was done using with the Jacuzzi I could have gone for a steam in the shower area. But by then I was too tired to do anything but to just take a shower!
The Bedroom, Maharani Suite, Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur
I divided the second glass of wine between the bedroom and the bath. I started it after the dinner. I was quite scared that I would not be able to fall asleep in this room but the wine and the hot bath worked like a charm! And try as I might I could not include the giant TV in the frame in the bedroom either.
The Wardrobe Area, Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur
I used wardrobe area the least during my stay. My suitcase would fit on on small rack outside this room! I think the wardrobe area is bigger than my bedroom at home!
The Veranda, Maharani Suite, Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur
This would probably give you some idea about the size of the suite but this is still an underestimation as the bathroom was behind the veranda! At the far end was a swing which is not even visible in the picture! I loved to sit on the easy chair and bask in the sun. The view of the palace grounds and the Mehrangarh Fort from the balcony is stunning!
Small Things, Maharani Suite, Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur
I loved the way small things added up to the charm of the suite! This was a bowl of roses in the spa area. The fragrances of various flowers, candles and incenses added to the palatial romance.
At every center table in the living room and the bedroom there was something to eat along with flowers and books! And I am not even including the candles in a picture in this post!
The Main Lobby, Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur
There were mirrors everywhere in the Maharani Suite. As I would walk around the enormous space, I would catch a glimpse of myself somewhere even if I was not paying any attention. After coming out of my room I would stand near the railing to catch the grand view of the lobby beneath! It never failed to make me stop in my tracks!
A Big Thank You to Vincent Ramos
Finally, a big thank you to Vincent Ramos the general manager of the Umaid Bhawan Palace. I am not sure how easy it was for him to trust the grandest and the most expensive room of his hotel with this commoner! I will remember my stay at the Maharani Suite at the Umaid Bhawan Palace for the rest of my life!
PS. My stay at the Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur was sponsored by the Taj Group of Hotels Resorts and Palace and Tripadvisor India.