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“Wonderful experience, shame to have to leave!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Udai Bilas Palace

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Udai Bilas Palace
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Dungarpur, Dungarpur 314001, India   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Dungarpur
london
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
21 hotel reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
36 helpful votes 36 helpful votes
“Wonderful experience, shame to have to leave!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 29, 2013

I know I had said in earlier reviews that it’s been a long time since I posted on Tripadvisor… and that’s not because I have not travelled but because I have been…lazy! Shame on me because I rely on Trip advisor for all of my hotel choices and so it is only fair that I should share back my experiences!

In 2012 I went to India twice and on both occasions had a fantastic time and stayed at some lovely places…and a dodgy one or two!

Anyway, here is another review – better late than never – of the wonderful Udai Bilas Palace (UBP)!

UBP is in Dungapur, a town that didn’t have many tourists when we visited. In fact I think were the only tourists there; what a nice privilege!

The palace is set in lovely grounds and overlooks a lake. From the palace one has stunning views of the town, particularly at night when the main temple in town is lit up. A living Maharaja and Maharini who have their separate quarters to the guests inhabit it.

Whilst some areas of the palace could do with an uplift, overall the palace is charming, and a peaceful place to seek refuge if you are done with the hustle and bustle that comes with travelling in India. We had planned to stay for two nights but stayed for three and during this time were the only guests, which suited us very well.

There are a variety of uniquely and charmingly furnished rooms. We stayed in the suite overlooking the Maharaja’s private temple on the lake. The internal décor was of very high standard oozing of charm de Raj Brit-esque.

The open air “dining area” was stunning; something to behold. The decadent “table” was commissioned and designed by the Maharaja. I have never seen anything like it – the “table” and it would certainly not fit in the length of my house!

Men dressed in army attire, which was quite different but a pleasant experience, as they smiled, served meals! We met the princess – stunning graceful lady.

But our thanks go the manager who was very professional, courteous knowledgeable, and sadly I cannot remember his name. (Remember me – I am the lady from Africa who asked to see several rooms as I am just …like that!)

Again I wish I could fault the palace …but this is proving to be difficult. Oh yes - the food was a bit bland and limited, which can be shame but we did not go hungry.

Make sure you visit the Maharaja’s other palace, which is astoundingly derelict, but charming. That said, the price to enter the place – R300 – was in my opinion very dear. Also, make sure you get to see the Maharaja’s amazing collection of vintage cars!

As for Dungapur itself, it is a charming town and good place to wonder around, have chai etc. Also good place to stop in if you are on your way to Udaipur and want to break up your journey and have an indulgent rest.

UDP Plus points:

Charming palace set in nice grounds.
Food was reasonable but a bit on the bland side.
Staff are courteous and efficient. Very impressed by the Manager at the time and wish I could remember his name!
Rooms are reasonably sized, uniquely furnished, clean, and comfortable, some with balconies. They have a selection of rooms including suites.
Bathroom was clean and charming – freestanding bath etc.
Housekeeping did their job well.
Tariff, which included breakfast, was pretty reasonable when compared to other hotels.
Tennis court but not sure whether this is the preserve of the Maharaja.
Small gym – one bike and walking machine (not modern).
Swimming pool - not quite infinity pool but very near to the lake.
Sunset boat rides available and boat trips on lake.
Pleasant gardens plus lots of bird watching opportunities.
Quiet / peaceful surroundings
Massage (lady / man available)

Negatives

Can’t think of any as it served us very well.
Overall – Very positive experience and would go back there!

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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96 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (22)
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English first
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 23, 2013

Went here on January 2013 family driving holiday with 4 yr old daughter and 83 yr old mum. Just superb, this is a restored palace, without being too tarted up, best staff we met and we could have stayed a week. Our two nights were excellent, lovely ground floor 2 bedroom suite, hot water bottles in the beds (linen changed twice a day), opened out to zoo type managerie of tortoises, family dogs, ostriched, peacocks (my daughter was in heaven).

Super setting, food and service, amazing car garage bar with vintage priceless cars and mbikes, lovely people. Looks cold when you first arrive, but dont be put off, this is the best place I have visited in Rajasthan and we will definately go back. Thanks UBP - great stay.

Room Tip: With a family, go for the garden rooms at the back facing the managerie, on the ground floor, nice t...
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New Delhi, India
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 6, 2013

Udai Bilas is a special place. Nestled between a bird rich lake, wooded hills and a character filled small town, it provides differnet options for a relaxing few days. Whilst some might describe the rooms as dated and shabby, we found them character filled and evocative of the days not long passed when house guests of the maharaja graced the halls. The small palace is rich in history and has an impressive central courtyard. It felt less like a hotel and more like a B&B, given the family still lives in one section of the small palace and the staff are all long serving with stories to tell. The trophy room is spectacular with close to 100 heads mounted and the converted garage bar with classic cars from the 1930s and '40s a sight to see. Other otions for sundowners and dining include by the lake - with illuminated views of an island temple, by the pool - with birds aplenty, and the spectacular zamana which at night is lit like a scene from the Arabian Nights. I could go on. Staff were attentive and the manager very helpful. The town itself has a small run down palace housing spectacularly decorated rooms from the last few hundred years that are worth the walk along the lakeshore and through the town with its shopfronts, traditional courtyard houses and temples. We were greeted warmly by locals and helped with directions and other shopping requests. All in all we spent a very relaxing five nights there and could have lingered longer.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney, Australia
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 4, 2013

As we set off on our two hour road trip to Udai Bilas hotel our driver was horrified that we were spending four nights in a dead end rural town with nothing going on. "Too much, you will be very bored". We started to worry we had made a mistake. We had just met a very dapper, cravate-wearing hotelier who claimed he owned the property - just 50km outside Udaipur - now world famous for being the setting of the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which we knew in fact was just outside Udaipur. We were offered a stay there should we chose to return. No doubt many men in Udaipur will make this claim but he seemed kosher.

But just five minutes inside the grounds of Udai Bilas and we unreservedly resolved to honour every minute of our four-night booking.

The Palace is a 19th century downsize from a far older and sprawling 12th century Juna Mahal Palace (well worth a visit) in the nearby town - the amusingly named "Dungarpur" - which had remained consistently in the same family of Maharajas for 800 years. (We met both the unofficial incumbent and the future heirs). They live in one wing of what was converted into a truly unique hotel experience in the 1930s to help with maintenance costs. Having roamed Rajashtan enjoying its countless Palaces and Forts, to finish up the roadtrip actually living in a Palace was a special treat and a perfect venue for a what in India would always be a very strange Christmas.

Just like the Palaces all across the Desert State, Udai Bilas is a museum to the eccenticities of power courtesy of the last officially ruling Maharaja - Laxman Singh. There's a series of photos telling a tale of a strong love for Cricket in the family, and no end of photos of one glamourous trip after another as well as political and regal pomp and circumstance. Most disturbing, and exceedingly un-PC - though is the drawing room in which we were invited to have sundowners on the first evening.

We counted about 200 heads on the wall - of shot game that is. Wilderbeast, Rhinos, Boar, Gazelles etc. All with "shot" dates ranging from the late 1950s to the early 1980s. A prolific - if not decidedly distasteful - shooting career. The room contained even more distrubing detail. Here and there, the foot of an Elephant or the hoofs of Gazelle had been converted into the legs for small foot stools. With the guests a motley crew of eclectic western tourists from Australia and England, any moment now we expected Hercule Poirot to enter and explain a perplexing murder.

The proportion of staff to guest was almost one-to-one it seemed which further emphasised the sense of Palacial living. The Hotel manager, one H. V. Singh, had the air of Mr Benn about him. Whenever a question popped into your head, "as if by magic" the Hotel manager would appear and answer it. He seemed to have the telepathic qualities of M*A*S*H's Radar. The staff went to extraorinary trouble to accommodate our Christmas, with Christmas Lunch served on the lawn by the lake - ironically across from the Shiva Temple - and while dubious in places certainly served to fill a festive hole.

Lazing by the quite beautiful Lakeside pool, walks in the local town (filled with some of the most welcoming and friendly people I've ever had the privilege of meeting) and extravagant dinners at the al fresco marble/jacuzi dining table characterised the rest of the stay, building towards a climax of Christmas Day evening drinks in the Maharajah's personal Automobile museum which included a not inconsiderable collection of a Buick, several BMWs, a E-Type and all manor of other paraphenalia and memorabilia.

For fans of the Marigold, there are enough Indian-isms to make the experience authentic: power-cuts, plumbing idiosynchracies, spelling mistakes in the menu, food that demands bravery - that sort of thing. But for a very reasonable spend, anyone travelling in the area and looking for that unique, regal and highly memorable break - Udai Bilas is for you!

Room Tip: Go upstairs!
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Richterswil, Switzerland
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 20, 2012

A fabulous 19th century palace located on the edge of a lake with stunning views back over the town, the palace has been part converted in to hotel rooms and was a fabulous place to stay.

Definitely worth exploring up to the old Juna Mahal (old palace), a short walk up on the hillside

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Udaipur, India
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed August 20, 2012

We went there for a family day out, we drove for around 2.5 hrs to reach the place but the rooms were so disappointing that we decided not to stay. THE BEDS ARE ALMOST NOTHING BUT COTS WITH NO MATTRESSES!!! and stinky. PICTURES ARE MISLEADING...its a rotten place and the staff behavior is anything but hospitable.
REQUEST YOU.. NOT TO SPOIL YOUR TIME/MONEY HERE....

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
, Owner at Udai Bilas Palace, responded to this review, September 8, 2012
We are surprised and astonished at this review of our property .
firstly it only takes 1hour fourty five minutes to reach Dungarpur from Udaipur and the person writing this review took 2 hours and fourty five minutes so i dont know where he has landed up !!!!
we have no rooms without mattresses or stinky rooms ! .
the person writing this review says he was on a day trip so cant write a review without staying in the property and also has no photographs etc. to substantiate his claims .
He must have landed up at some other property and not Udaibilas Palace !!!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mumbai (Bombay), India
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 18, 2012

A very beautiful palace....old but gorgeous. We had a wonderful view from the art deco suite.the lake and the pretty temple IN the lake!!! Our suite was huge..and very personal.The staff was excellent and we got treated like royalty. The vintage bar,designed by Mk Harshvardhan ji himself was absolutely a pleasure to be in.Fantastic music from the 80's...and a car lovers fantasy come true.The entire decor and upholstery including the show pieces and memorabilia was connected to cars. The dungarpur mews also has some real vintage cars which my son was super happy to see.I would oce again like to thank the maharaja for sharing his home with us and making us feel royal too ;)

Room Tip: Please remember there is no room service.Everybody sits together like one family and enjoys the deli...
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Udai Bilas Palace

Address: Dungarpur, Dungarpur 314001, India
Location: India > Rajasthan > Dungarpur
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Dungarpur
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 23
Also Known As:
Udai Bilas Palace Dungarpur

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