The recently-opened Leela Kempinski Palace in Udaipur is a happy mix of luxury, mysticism, modernity and tradition, feels Reilly J Nelson.
The first thing you will see when you pull up by boat to the levy at the Leela Kempinski Palace in Udaipur, is the fibre-optic dome (the only one of its kind in India) glistening like a hundred stars above Lake Pichola.
You are caressed with a shower of rose petals as you enter the hotel lobby, which is ornately decorated with crystal chandeliers and large portraits of the Maharajas of old. Every inch of this palatial hotel exudes luxury fit for a king.
The Library Bar here is not your typical hotel bar. Once you cross the threshold, you are transported directly into the study of a Maharaja.
A colour palate of deep purples and burgundy reds, coupled with dark wood and real silver, give the cosy space a royal air. The lights above the bar are modelled after elaborately-bejewelled crowns, and a framed picture of three young Maharajas in traditional dress hangs to the left of the fully-stocked bar, reminding visitors that they are in the presence of royalty.
Designed by architect Bill Bensley and interior designer Jeffery Wilkes, the bar strives to bring the local heritage to life within its mustard-yellow Jaisalmer stone walls.
“I think it is as surprising as it is beautiful,” says Tamir Kobrin, the general manager, of the city known as the Venice of the East.
“You come here for the mysticism.” To capture that mysticism, the five-star spa resort has drawn inspiration from everything local, from the intricately-embroidered fabric to the tarkashi work — a local art form used to design the handcrafted dark wood furniture.
The majority of items were handpicked by Wilkes’ design team, while some come from the Nair family’s (the owners) private collection, and yet others have been donated by the family of the Maharana of Udaipur.
The Library Bar, replete with refinement and luxury, is the place to sip a cocktail or curl up with a good book, all the while nurturing the royalty within you.