At a Glance
The immense Umaid Bhawan Palace sits like a small city, with its golden sandstone, Beaux Arts–style facade gleaming at the center of 26 acres of magnificent landscape. Guests of these centuries-old Taj Grand Palaces in Rajasthan, which also include Taj Lake Palace and Rambagh Palace, quite literally walk, dine and sleep like royalty, because they are in the homes of the maharajas. The palaces, have been restored, but retain their cathedral ceilings, scalloped archways, latticework, colonnades, inlaid marble floors, intricate craftsmanship, opulent furnishings and soaring domes.
The Standout: A striking grand exterior, including the signature 148-foot dome
Don’t Miss: A treatment at the stunning spa within the J Wellness Circle; an exquisite royal high tea experience overlooking the lawns and the serene Jodphur skyline
- A candlelit private dinner at the Baradari, which was transported from the owner’s family countryside property
- Sprawling grounds and pools providing ample opportunity for lounging and relaxing between sightseeing
- Private tours of the stunning Mehrangarh Fort
Built from 1928 to 1943 by the Maharaja of Jodhpur, this grand palace, with its 374 rooms, was once the largest private residence in the world. Even though the royal family still lives here, the palace has since been converted into a hotel. (The family lives in one wing; guests in another.) Taj took over the property in 2004 and invested over $15 million in renovations and upgrades, bringing the number of guest rooms and suites down to 70. Thankfully, the quirky historic charm and Art Deco style of the property (family portraits and stuffed animal heads in the bar and peacocks patrolling the gardens) remains intact. Guest rooms in the palace range from basic rooms to historic suites. The most lavish of all are the Maharaja and Maharani Suites, which are enormous, too enormous for most tastes. Some deluxe suites come with balconies that are ideal for breakfast or drinks in the evening.
Among the palace offerings that should not be missed is a visit to the spa. The indoor swimming pool with its elaborate mosaics of the zodiac is worth a visit even for non-swimmers. The spa within the J Wellness Circle specializes in Indian beauty and wellness treatments, and the yoga studio provides classes with a yoga master who has studied for decades to master the craft. The 26 acres of gardens surrounding the palace serve as a wonderful place for a quiet stroll, a private dinner or just as a backdrop for the peacocks that inhabit them. Don’t miss the museum next door to the main entrance, which contains some of the royal families possessions, including a room devoted to extraordinary clocks.
Bottom line: While there are fewer sights to see in Jodhpur than in Jaipur or Udaipur, this is the best of the historic palace hotels and well worth a stay of at least two nights.
Who Should Stay
People who love indulgent experiences. Though there are fewer sights in Jodhpur than Jaipur and Udaipur, Taj Umaid Bhawan Palace is a lavish experience on its own and could serve as a nice pause for an action-packed itinerary through the region. Whether traveling as a couple or family, Taj’s management means you’ll be well taken care of.
Written by Melissa Biggs Bradley