Since launching in 1903, the Taj brand has operated some of the top hotels in India and beyond, from grande dame city hubs (like The Pierre in New York City) to dreamy beachfront resorts in places like Goa and the Maldives. The brand’s extra-special skill, though, is running hotels that are set in palaces—not structures that were recently built to resemble palaces, but authentic royal residences, each with its own unique history and lore (and, in some cases, a few titled descendants still living on-site.) Among the most famous of these is the Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur, an all-white stone haven floating in the middle of Lake Pichola. Now, that legendary property has been joined by another Taj palace hotel in town—the Taj Fateh Prakash Palace is located on land, but no less spectacular.
Opened on 1 January, Taj Fateh Prakash Palace is set within the grounds of Udaipur’s City Palace complex, which has its origins in the ancient House of Mewar, one of the oldest dynasties in the world. Located on the eastern banks of the lake, and framed by views of the Aravalli Hills, Fateh Prakash itself was built in the 19th-century as a venue for royal functions. Those origins are still evident, especially in the majestic, 5,177-sqaure-foot Durbar Hall Sabhagaar, the palace’s banquet room (now an event space) that’s topped by a dramatic 220-pound crystal chandelier. Boasting a Mewar-meets-Victorian design, the Hall is ringed on its upper level by the famous Crystal Gallery, which houses the world’s largest privately owned collection of crystal objets d’art—including a jewel-encrusted carpet and the only crystal bed in the world.
The original palace decor has been meticulously maintained throughout, including in the 65 rooms and suites, and the royal storerooms were opened up to provide furniture, armory, miniature paintings (an Udaipur specialty), and other heirlooms with which to decorate the spaces. The on-site Sunset Terrace—which was already operating as a restaurant, and is regularly voted as one of India’s most scenic eateries—serves Mewari-inspired fare backed by panoramic views of the lake and its islands, while the Surya Darshan Bar offers a traditional English Afternoon Tea during that day, followed by champagne, hors d’oeuvres, and sunset vistas in the evening. Of course, you’ll also find plenty of amenities and curated services designed to make guests feel like royalty, starting with being picked up at the airport in a vintage car. And if you’re lucky, you may spot—or get to meet—Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar, a noted businessman, hotelier, and polo enthusiast who, along with his brother, is the 76th custodian of the House of Mewar. Rates start at approximately US$390 (or about RM1,585).