Udaipur, thought by many (including myself) to be the most evocative and romantic city in India, doesn't require you to stay in a luxury palace hotel to enjoy its charms. There are plenty of inexpensive hotels to choose from, offering magical views of Lake Pichola and the Lake Palace Hotel (when it comes to really experiencing Udaipur, the view is important). You'll find many of them in the tangle of touristy streets around Lal Ghat, close to the City Palace and Jagdish Temple. This is where the bulk of travelers hang out in Udaipur. Directly across the water, Hanuman Ghat also has its share of budget hotels. It's a little quieter there, often with slightly better views, as it faces the City Palace. Here are five of the best Udaipur budget hotels under $50, all with lake views. All of them have rooftop restaurants as well.
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Perhaps the best budget hotel in Udaipur, the Jaiwana Haveli is full of history. Once the private residence of the Thakur of Jaiwana, it's now got 24 rooms for guests. The location in Lal Ghat, right on the banks of Lake Pichola, is unbeatable -- as too are the views. A standard double is 2,250 rupees ($40) a night, plus tax, while a corner room is 2,450 rupees ($45). Corner rooms 11, 21, and 31 have the views and it's worth paying the little bit extra for these. The hotel offers substantial discounts on its rates over the hot summer months, from mid April to mid July.
The Panorama Guest House is a groovy old style Rajput Haveli, with two pet tortoises that wander around the garden. Located in the Hanuman Ghat area, it's managed by the delightful owners and their family. There are cooking lessons held daily, free internet for guests, and also a small shop on the premises that sells various items that travelers may need. Rooms are priced from 300 rupees ($6) to 1,000 rupees ($20) a night. The costliest rooms on the upper levels have lake views and large private balconies.
The Nayee Haveli is an intimate and atmospheric little guest house with only six rooms. It's located fronting the lake in the Gangaur Ghat area, where the famous Gangaur Festival
takes place, just north of Lal Ghat. The footbridge to the other side of the water (and Hanuman Ghat) is only a couple of minutes away. The guest house has three terraces over different levels, with fabulous views. Cooking lessons are also offered. You'll appreciate the soft beds and pillows, and beautiful decorations. Scattered flower petals are a delightful touch. Rooms are available from 1,350 rupees to 1,950 rupees a night ($25-35).
Aashiya Haveli promotes itself as a traditional home stay. Situated at Lal Ghat, it's been in the Aashiya family for over 220 years. They commenced renovation works to convert it into a hotel in 2006. There are 12 deluxe and family rooms to choose from. Each is unique, with its own individual charm. All have white tiled western bathrooms and 24 hour hot water. Room rates range from 1,000-2,000 rupees per night. Do note that only pure vegetarian food (including no eggs) is served. There are also no phones or televisions in the rooms.
Pratap Bhawan is another popular Udaipur budget hotel, situated in Lal Ghat. With new management (since late 2010) and a makeover, it has very helpful staff and provides excellent service. It seems that almost anything can be arranged, including elephant rides and procession! Free wireless Internet is available along with various classes, including cooking and yoga. There are nine rooms to choose from, some with lovely cushioned window seats and bay windows. Room rates range from 950 rupees to 1,800 rupees ($18-35), plus tax. All rooms have air conditioning. The best, and most expensive, one is on the roof. Stay in it and you'll get a mesmerizing, panoramic 360 degrees view of the lake and the Old Town.