With a population of a little over 3 million, Jaipur is far from India’s biggest city. It’s a good starter city for that reason—the sites are manageable, it’s easy to get your bearings, and you can check off the viable dining options in a number of days.
But small or large, India is overwhelming. On a week long trip to shoot Away’s spring campaign, our group of photographers, videographers, and producers found themselves looking at each other wide-eyed. “Imagine if we were coming from somewhere that’s not New York,” we said. We’d be ill-equipped to handle the traffic, the smells, the colors, or the lack of personal space.
So one night at the Raas Devigarh after we wrapped shooting was exactly what the doctor ordered. A one-hour plane ride southwest, and you’re in the lake district of Udaipur (population: 451,735), where space and serenity come easy.
NH8, Near Eklingji Temple, Delwara, Udaipur, Rajasthan 313202
The Devigarh Palace was completed in 1760 under the reign of Rajrana Sajja Singh II. Around 750 people worked on the grand building’s restoration over almost 15 years, using locally mined marble, as was used in the original construction. In 1999, the Raas group – which has another breathtaking property in Jodhpur – opened it as a hotel.
The property comes into view with 20 minutes left in the journey from the airport to the front gate. But it’s only when you walk through those two 12-foot blocks of uncut, white marble and into the courtyard that you can fully grasp the magnitude and beauty of the building. An outdoor pool and hot tub – where wait staff stand at attention to take your order – overlooks rolling hills, but you’re more likely to spend your time staring at the architecture of the palace.
Winding outdoor passageways (try not to get lost, I dare you) lead you to rooms inside the palace, where modern, minimalist decor offsets the ancient and ornate exterior. Garden suites line a courtyard at ground level—better for anyone with small children, since the building boasts grand stone staircases.
The restaurant is open air, too, and serves up both eastern and western dishes using ingredients from the organic garden. The ila-run spa offers a variety of facials, massages, and scrubs, as well as yoga classes and a “Blessings” menu to realign your chakra.
But this is no run-of-the-mill destination spa—ask the staff to show you the King’s chambers, which you can book for a private meal, or the mirror on the ceiling of one particular balcony—installed by his Majesty to spy on the bathing women below.
Still, there’s very little temptation to leave the palace, making this the perfect last stop in India to rest and rejuvenate before returning home.