Former fortress turned boutique hotel Raas Devigarh is a multi-tiered wedding cake of suites, gardens, spa and pool. Balconies look out across the frangipani-filled landscaped grounds and surrounding hills, and the open courtyards invite decadent, drink-in-hand lounging. A top-notch chef serves locally inspired cuisine in the white marble dining room, and barmen shake up cocktails fit for royalty in the gilded open-air bar. Drift into a divine state in the Ila spa – one of only two in India – and resurface to savour the sweeping valley views from your suite’s private balcony. It’s the perfect place for princely holidays.
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A guided heritage walk around the palace with a glass of sparkling wine
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £156.44 (INR15,640), including tax at 18 per cent.
Rates generally include an American-style breakfast.
Delve into Rajasthani cuisine with a traditional cooking course led by the hotel’s head chef, who will also happily lead you on a culinary tour around the local grain, spice and vegetable markets.
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout, spa, on-site and valet parking. In rooms: WiFi, iPod dock, TV and DVD player, minibar, tea- and coffee-making facilities, free bottled water and air-conditioning.
Our favourite rooms
We’re particularly enamoured with the Aravali suites; it’s all about their beautiful balconies, which are perfect for leisurely breakfasts à deux (and the spacious ensuite bathrooms tip the scale even further). Garden Suites, while not in the main part of the palace, have their own tented lounge terraces.
The heated granite pool dominates the main terrace and has panoramic views over the rolling hillside. The pool is flanked by ivory-white daybeds, both with and without billowing canopies, and drinks and snacks can be ordered poolside, too.
Treatments in the soothing Ila spa use British-brand Ila’s ethical and eco-friendly products. Choose from classic massages, beauty rituals, holistic treatments and health-centric yoga sessions in the rose-, jasmine- and sandalwood-scented spa; for next-level unwinding, go for one of the Devi Blessings, two-hour treatments designed to calm and recalibrate your nerves. The spa also has a mineral-enriched Himalayan Salt cave and a menu of health-nurturing nibbles and drinks, including herbal teas.
Bring jewel-toned dresses, classically beautiful swimsuits, and that book you’ve been meaning to read; pack sturdy shoes and lightweight linens if you plan on trekking around the local area.
Original construction on the palace was in 1760, and there are stairs throughout, so it may not be suitable for guests with mobility constraints.
All ages are welcome. Extra beds (for children ages 12 and under) are INR5,000, plus 18% tax a night, which includes daily breakfast. Free cots, highchairs, toys and art supplies can be provided, and there’s a family-friendly pool.
Plastic bags are restricted, water is solar-heated plant, and vegetables for the restaurant are grown in-house.
You can’t go wrong with balcony-dining at Raas Devigarh. For extra privacy, book a romantic dinner for two in a Jharokha (an open-air turret) at the top of the palace.
Think relaxed royalty: dress for dinner in white linens and elegantly flowing silks.
Chef Sanjeev Kumar serves up seasonal fare, with ingredients grown in-house or locally sourced, in the hotel’s restaurant. Minimally decorated in white marble and gold accents, with original paintings of the former rulers who once called Devigarh home, the restaurant has panoramic views over the surrounding countryside and the Aravalli hill range. Don’t leave without trying the Rajasthani lamb or Jodhpuri chicken curries and the popular local Mirchi Vada (chili fritter) dish.
The laid-back and open-sided bar looks out over the pool and the nearby hills; inside, it’s all stone arches and wine-coloured fabrics, and outside there’s ivory-hued seating. The bar is open throughout the day, so you can start with a relaxing mid-morning chai on the balcony, move on to late-afternoon cocktails in the lounge area, and wrap up your evening with a bottle of wine panoramic countryside views. The bar pours out expertly shaken cocktails, and also serves coffee and teas and hand-squeezed juices; the wine list has options from India’s up-and-coming vineyards and international favourites.
The bar shakes, stirs and pours drinks from 11am to 11pm. The restaurant is open throughout the day for meals and in-betweens; breakfast is served from 7.30am to 10am, lunch from 12.30pm to 3pm, and dinner from 7.30pm to 11pm
Order any food or drinks you fancy to your suite at any time of the day or night.
This palace-turned-hotel in the Aravalli hills is just outside buzzy and royal residence-filled Udaipur.
The nearest airport is Maharana Pratap Airport; arrange transfers with the hotel for INR2,500 (plus taxes) per car each way for the one-hour drive.
The hotel has free on-site and valet parking.
Worth getting out of bed for
There’s plenty to keep you busy at the hotel, between dips in the pool, spa sessions, rooftop yoga and cooking classes. The hotel can also arrange day tours to lake-lined Udaipur, the village of Delwara, or the nearby temples of Nathdwara, Eklingji and Nagda – temples to Krishna, Shiva and Vishnu, respectively. World Heritage sites Kumbhalgarh – a Mewar fortress – and Chittorgarh, one of the largest forts in India, are also nearby. Adrenaline-seekers will enjoy horseand camel rides or jeep safaris. Relaxed village walks and picnics can also be arranged.
For open air dining with a view, make your way to the Sunset Terrace; it’s open for breakfast, light snacks, lunch and dinner, and live musicians add to the charm of dining in a former maharana’s palace. Lakeside Tribute Restaurant serves Indian, Chinese and European dishes and has an excellent view of the Rang Sagar Islands, so you can settle in for a side of bird-watching with your meal. Consider yourselves warned: it’ll be tempting to fill up on the selection of delicious Rajasthani breads. Choose from a wide range of grilled and tandoori dishes (including vegan options) at Charcoal by Carlsson, and request balcony seating – for couples only – in advance.
After six hours in the car, stopping only once for a quick chai, on pulling up to boutique Udaipur hideaway Raas Devigarh we felt like two little kids arriving at Disneyland. Of course it helps that the regal stay does look completely magical at night, its towering facade all lit up and sparkly, but also, we knew what waited within after a quick browse on Raas’s Instagram geotag.
Our driver took a few goes to find the entrance. Hidden away down a very unassuming drive, behind an ambiguous gate, we thought we were probably lost again until we saw the well-lit fortress glittering against the darkened Aravalli Hills and an army of staff waiting to help us with our bags, guide us to our room and offer us our welcome drinks – we opted for more chai, naturally. (In Rajasthan, there’s no such thing as too much chai.) We arrived late at night so just had time to drop our bags, marvel at the grandeur of our marble bathroom, and grab a quick dinner on the lantern-lit restaurant terrace, before calling it a night, and jumping into our supremely comfortable super-king-size bed.
After exploring Rajasthan’s busy cities, Raas Devigarh is the ideal place to totally chill out. Located just under an hour’s drive north of Udaipur, the former fortress is set among the blissfully calm fields of the Aravalli Hills. It’s a fine old place to spend a couple of days relaxing, lapping up the sweeping valley views, feasting like a king, lounging in the open courtyards, and drifting into a state of calm in the Ila spa. If you want to stretch your legs, the charming village of Delwara, celebrated for its ancient Jain temples, is just a 10-minute walk away. Clean and contemporary interiors are stripped back in sophisticated style throughout, and a largely white palette peppered with highlights of silver and gold prevails. The property is a web of courtyards and terraces and narrow staircases that connect the restaurant to the lounge and the rooms, which are scattered across the gardens.
Our Garden Suite was a tranquil haven in Zen-inducing cream hues, with splashes of natural colour, bamboo blinds, pale marble floors, and a palm-tree-embossed feature wall. Our roomy green-marble bathroom was a glamorous space, well stocked with products; however, the pièce de résistance was the most marvellous sunken marble bath tub I’ve ever seen, so momentous it fitted the two us side-by-side. Those with money to burn can upgrade to a Palace Suite for an even more indulgent Devigarh experience, complete with butlers on call and private balconies with sweeping valley views.
There’s no shortage of places to relax here, in fact, you could probably stay a week and never sit in the same spot twice. Soak up the sun on the ivory-hued-leather sunloungers that surround the pool, snooze on a shady day-bed in the afternoon, read your book up on the panoramic roof terrace, or, if you’re in the market for a total reset, book in for a treatment at Ila Spa. I’ve got to say, I’m too much of a fidget to spend time being massaged into oblivion, but even popping my head in made me feel 90 per cent calmer. So, I can only imagine how blissfully tranquilising the treatments can be.
Rise early to catch the beautiful morning light on the pool terrace – without a doubt the highlight of a stay at Raas Devigarh. The sun rises up over the mountains, casting the whole place in a peachy hue. Start your day with a coffee and a book, before a refreshing morning dip, and then eat. Breakfast is served in the restaurant, which is located up high, giving the most magical views of the surroundings, shrouded in misty morning fog.
Food here is excellent. Chefs cook up masala dosas and puri bhaji to start your day. Some mornings, we got greedy and ordered seconds. You quickly grow very accustomed to curry for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and quite frankly, I couldn’t get enough. If you are looking for a break from curry, curry and more curry, you’ll appreciate the dinner menu’s international choices, worldly dishes such as mozzarella and tomato salad, pad thai, and roasted chicken with herbed potatoes.
If, like me, you suck at spending more than a day by the pool, Raas Devigarh offers many curated excursions, including a guided tour of the temples of Delwara and a day-long adventure to Chittorgarh to learn more about Rajasthani history. If you’re feeling independent, book a taxi and head into Udaipur. It’s only a 45-minute drive away and it’s definitely worth dedicating at least a day to. Soak up the city’s chaos, see the City Palace by the beautiful lake, and head to the bazaars to haggle for colourful garms that make great gifts to take home, before calling it a day and heading back to divine Devigarh for the night and maybe even another cup of chai.