The Umaid Bhawan Palace is easily my favorite of the palace hotels. It doesn’t have the personalized service of the safari camps nor the luxurious rooms of the Rambagh Palace … Alright, so I can’t pick a favorite. I love all of them.
But this palace is the largest and has the grandest common areas. Probably because the Umaid Bhawan Palace was built in the 1940s to one of the wealthiest families in India.
Supposedly the people of Jodhpur were going hungry because of the economic (i.e. famine) environment and the Maharaja offered to help out. But the people didn’t want a handout, they wanted to work. So he started building a palace to create jobs in his city. It must have worked because the palace was built. And there weren’t any stories of mass starvations.
Because the palace was built in the 20th century, it has modern touches. And it was furnished in the art deco style. The ruling family ordered furniture from Europe. But the boat carrying the furniture was sunk by a German U-boat. So the furniture in the palace is actually a replication of the original art deco furniture that currently lies at the bottom of an ocean somewhere.
Once again, the palace upkeep became overwhelming (i.e. expensive) for the royal family so they turned most of it into a hotel. But this palace is still home to the royal family. In fact, you can walk up almost right to the main entrance of their private residence. I’m guessing that the family was not in residence at the time that I made this walk because I can’t see how that would possibly not be a security concern. But it’s cool that they are still there.
On our second night at the palace, a really cool thunderstorm came through. Lightening. Thunder. Pouring Rain. It was almost enough to make you forget that you were in the desert.
This meant that we couldn’t eat outside up on the top floor of the rotunda. So we did the next logical thing. We postponed pre-dinner drinks. And went off to explore. Well, I went off exploring and dragged Keith along with me.
At one point we passed the head housekeeper and he offered to show us the royal suites of the maharajah and the maharini. Which were larger then our entire condo. If that helps give you a sense of scale. Seriously, the suites had a sitting room, dining room, bedroom, massage/spa room, ridiculously large closets, and large bathrooms. The bathroom in the Maharaja Royal Suite had three bathtubs. A gold bathtub, a spa bathtub, and a Jacuzzi. I guess you got to take your pick depending on your mood.
The palace is also home to a large, underground pool. Which is gorgeous. There is also an outdoor pool. Then there is a spa. And tennis courts. And stables. And anything else that your heart desires. If, of course, you aren’t overly busy sightseeing to spend time relaxing.
If you have time, I recommend this stop being a three night stop. One full day for sightseeing. And one full day for sitting next to the pool.