Rising like a mirage from the center of Lake Pichola, this lustrous white marble masterpiece was originally built in the 1740s as a pleasure palace — a cool "island" escape from Udaipur's landlocked, main royal residence. Guests arrive by motorized gondola and are immediately ensconced in a kind of ornate opulence unimaginable in today's Philippe Starck-styled hotel world. Romantic is the defining mood here, from the beautiful gardens and lily pond to the bedrooms adorned with silks, mosaics, frescoes and gorgeously carved furnishings. With stained-glass windows and stunning views from to-die-for terraces, some of the suites will take your breath away. Among the selection of dining venues, Neel Kamal pays tribute to the royal cuisine of Mewar. Those who want to unwind can head for Jiva Spa, which offers treatments that incorporate ancient Indian healing practices.