Inside Udaipur's Shiv Niwas Palace Hotel

  • 01 of 07

    Hotel Overview

    ••• Shiv Niwas exterior. Eternal Mewar.

    The Shiv Niwas Palace hotel is one of two authentic palace hotels in the Udaipur City Palace Complex, with an enviable location on the banks of Lake Pichola. Built in the early 20th century during the reign of Maharana Fateh Singh, the Shiv Niwas Palace served as his residence for a while. It was later used to accommodate royal guests. Now, you can stay there too.

    Opened as a hotel by Maharana Bhagwat Singh in 1982, the Shiv Niwas Palace found fame not long after, in the 1983 James Bond movie Octopussy. Bond stayed there on his way to Octopussy's island. Fans will no doubt recognize the evocative patio area that surrounds the swimming pool, where he was fond of relaxing.

    The hotel isn't just a "must-stay" place because of Octopussy though. It's won four National Tourism Awards for best heritage hotel in the "Heritage Grand" category.

    Still owned by Udaipur's Mewar royal family, the Shiv Niwas Palace is one of their HRH Group of Hotels, located throughout...MORE Rajashtan. Its name means palatial abode of Lord Shiva, who is worshiped by the Mewar royal family.

    While the Shiv Niwas Palace is indeed a palatial hotel, if you're picturing ultra slick interiors like those of all the imitation palace hotels that are popping up in Udaipur, you'll be disappointed. However, the Shiv Niwas Palace provides what those hotels can't -- authentic royal charm and hospitality.

    Courteous staff and attention to detail have contributed greatly to the hotel's reputation. The best royal touch I experienced during my stay there? Stationery with my name printed on it!

    Another benefit of staying at the Shiv Niwas Palace hotel is that guests are allowed to freely roam around the City Palace Complex (with the exception of going inside the royal residence), so you can feel right at home!

    Take this visual tour of the Shiv Niwas Palace hotel to see what makes it so special.

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  • 02 of 07

    Architecture

    Shiv Niwas Palace Hotel top terrace.
    ••• Shiv Niwas Palace Hotel

    Much of the appeal of the Shiv Niwas Palace hotel lies is in its graceful and elegant design. It exudes regal charm -- and not just because it borders the Shambhu Niwas Palace, where the royal family still lives.

    The Shiv Niwas Palace, which blends Rajput and European architecture, has been built in a semi circle shape around an internal courtyard. It features the swimming pool, and billowing trees that are the playground for energetic squirrels.

    The hotel is a delight to explore. A walk through it reveals many balconies, domed pavilions, and tucked away courtyards. The Top Terrace is one of the hidden gems. It overlooks the swimming pool on one side, and Lake Pichola and the mountains on the other. During the day, it's worth spending some time unwinding there on one of the padded white iron stools, and simply enjoying the view. By night, it's an appealing dining spot.

    Another attractive feature of the Shiv Niwas Palace hotel is the glass mosaics and painted frescoes that decorate...MORE its interiors. Apparently, two artisans were sent all the way to England to learn how to craft them.

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  • 03 of 07

    Hotel Location and Setting

    Shiv Niwas Palace Hotel view of lake.
    ••• Shiv Niwas Palace Hotel

    Located at the southern end of the City Palace Complex, the Shiv Niwas Palace doesn't have the same enviable view of the Lake Palace hotel that the other City Palace hotel, Fateh Prakash, does.

    Yet, the Lake Palace can still be seen from the balconies of many of the terrace suites at the Shiv Niwas Palace hotel. If you do stay in one of these suites, you'll also be greeted with a view of Jag Mandir, another enchanting royal palace on the lake.

    Standing on a balcony with a panoramic view over the lake really is breathtaking. I was already falling in love with regal Udaipur, but the view is what really did it for me. I was completely captivated.

    If you're really craving a close up view of the Lake Palace, don't worry. You can always head over to the Fateh Prakash Palace hotel's Sunset Terrace bar and restaurant, where it will appear floating right in front of you. Make sure you're there for the sun set!

    One thing that the Shiv Niwas Palace hotel does offer, that the...MORE Fateh Prakash Palace hotel doesn't, is stunning views of the white city of Udaipur. The sparkling lights really bring it to life at night.

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  • 04 of 07

    Accommodations

    Imperial Suite.
    ••• Imperial Suite. Shiv Niwas Palace Hotel

    The Shiv Niwas Palace hotel has 19 rooms with city views, and 17 suites with views of the lake or the city of Udaipur.

    The three Imperial and six Royal suites in the courtyard, surrounding the swimming pool, were constructed first. Later, eight Terrace suites were built overlooking Lake Pichola. Each is uniquely decorated with rare royal treasures, including paintings.

    If you want to follow in James Bond's footsteps, Royal Suite 5 is apparently where all the action happened.

    Rates

    The time of year that you stay at the Shiv Niwas Palace hotel will make all the difference in terms of cost. Very generous discounts are offered during the summer monsoon season from April until September. September can be an excellent time to visit Udaipur, as the city doesn't receive a lot of monsoon rain and the crowds are absent. It's all the more enticing when you can save over 50% on room rates! Even better, if the hotel isn't busy, you may even get an upgrade.

    If money isn't an issue, an...MORE Imperial suite is truly what fairy tales are made of. There are three to choose from. The antique furniture, frescoes, canopied bed, and yes, even a flower petal filled water fountain in the bedroom all serve to paint a picture of stately splendor. At 100,000 rupees per night during the peak tourist season (from October to March), an Imperial Suite is likely to be outside the budget of most people. However, during the monsoon season, you can stay in one for 40,000 rupees per night, plus tax.

    Likewise, a Palace Room which usually costs 15,000 rupees per night during the tourist season can be picked up for 7,000 rupees during the summer and monsoon season. You'll also be able to get a lake facing Terrace Suite, normally costing 31,000 rupees, for only 18,000 rupees per night plus tax. Breakfast is additional and costs 1,100-1,500 rupees per person.

    Read traveler reviews and compare prices at Tripadvisor: Shiv Niwas Palace hotel.

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  • 05 of 07

    Restaurants

    Shiv Niwas Palace Hotel pool deck.
    ••• Shiv Niwas Palace Hotel

    The Shiv Niwas Palace hotel offers the choice of two restaurants and a bar on the premises. Guests can also eat and drink in the many other restaurants, scattered throughout the City Palace Complex. One such place is the European-style cafe, Palki Khana, in front of the City Palace Museum.

    Without a doubt, the most ambient place to dine at the Shiv Niwas Palace hotel is the Pool Deck. If you're looking to have a romantic evening with your loved one, this is the place! The whole area is warmly illuminated at night. A candlelit dinner, accompanied by soft strains of live classical music, makes for alfresco dining at its best.

    Also at the hotel is a multi-cuisine restaurant called Paantya, named after a Mewari word meaning "sitting in line, in protocol". The restaurant's distinguishing feature is its magnificent view of the city.

    Dining at the Shiv Niwas Palace hotel doesn't come cheap though. Do be prepared to pay for the exceptional experience.

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  • 06 of 07

    Panera Bar

    Panera bar at Shiv Niwas Palace Hotel
    ••• Shiv Niwas Palace Hotel

    If you're in the mood to recline with a drink in opulent old world surroundings, head to the Panera bar by the Pool Deck. Its name refers to the storehouse for water and alcohol in the royal household. Soft sofas, beautiful glass inlay work, huge chandeliers, and ornate mirrors all set the scene.

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  • 07 of 07

    Panghat Spa and Salon

    ••• Spa and salon. Eternal Mewar

    The Shiv Niwas Palace hotel has a luxury spa with three therapy rooms, dedicated to Ayurvedic, aromatherapy and Swedish massages.  There's also a beauty salon that's well equipped for bridal makeovers.

    A copy of the spa menu is available here.

    As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary accommodations for the purpose of reviewing those services. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.