This view from a private island helped The Oberoi Udaivilas win best hotel in one reader survey. (Courtesy: The Oberoi Udaivilas)
Being named the world’s best hotel is competitive work, but the winner among Travel + Leisure’s readers had to beat its own sister properties as well.
The Oberoi Udaivilas, on a private island in Udaipur, Rajasthan, India, took home the top prize this year – one reader called it “luxury, redefined.” In an opulent setting spanning 50 acres, the hotel certainly passes the eye test, though you could argue it’s not even the best Oberoi property.
Placing No. 5 among T+L readers was The Oberoi Rajvilas in Jaipur, and ranking 16th was The Oberoi Amarvilas in Agra. The latter hotel boasts views of the nearby Taj Mahal from every room – that might seal the deal for some travelers to India right there.
One of the outdoor dining areas.(Courtesy: The Oberoi Udaivilas)
The property spans 50 acres. (Courtesy: The Oberoi Udaivilas)
And then there are other contenders. The runner-up for world’s best hotel was Castello di Casole in Tuscany, comprising a 10th-century castle in one of the most desirable travel destinations on the planet. The highest-ranking U.S. hotel was Triple Creek Ranch in Darby, Mont., which tied for third, and that’s an entirely different experience from the other top finishers: it’s in a rustic, mountainside setting with wood-burning stoves and cattle drives.
So why does Udaivilas take home the hardware, and is it deserved? Here’s what T+L had to say:
“A palace fit for a maharaja, The Oberoi Udaivilas is nothing short of an oasis amidst the country’s frenetic energy. The hotel sits on its own private island in Udaipur—consequently, the former hunting grounds of India’s kings—and guests are transported to the property via private boat.
A lotus pond on the property. (Courtesy: The Oberoi Udaivilas)
“After crossing Lake Pichola and the hotel’s main courtyard (with a white marble lotus floating in a reflecting pool), enter your accommodations. Book one of nine Premier rooms for a semi-private pool, terrace, and views of wildlife such as peacocks and white-spotted deer.
“Visit the on-site Bada Mahal, an 18th-century former palace with delicate frescoes, or take a camel ride to Devigarh Fort Palace for lunch. Repeat visitors will love the departure gifts the property bestows, such as traditional mirror-work coasters or jewelry boxes.”
It’s hard to knock any of that. And if we apply the same standard for greatness that we used when evaluating TripAdvisor users’ choice of Gili Lankanfushi in the Maldives as the world’s best hotel, it does seem like Oberoi Udaivilas checks the boxes for great service – guests are showered with rose petals upon arrival, for instance – as well as beauty. We love the idea of dining al fresco with a view of the lake.
This luxury suite is going for over $7,600 per night. (Courtesy: The Oberoi Udaivilas)
We also think a great hotel – even a luxurious one – should be affordable. While you can’t apply that label to Udaivilas’ luxury suite with private pool, which was going for $7,683 per night this week when we checked Tuesday, a 600-square-foot Premier Room could be had for a much more democratic $377 per night.
We also like the mix of seclusion and accessibility with this hotel – you need a private boat to get here and explore the surroundings, but you’re not stuck on site, either. A tour of the City Palace, built in 1567, is especially appealing.
Ultimately, the “best” hotel comes down to your own personal tastes – would you rather be surrounded by urban bustle, cattle, or olive trees? But for those who prefer peacocks, islands, and Indian palaces, Oberoi Udaivilas might be your cup of chai.