From the twenty-four king palms that lead up to the dazzling white entrance, to the marvellous mélange of classic and contemporary decor in its interiors, The Imperial hotel stands as a monument to architect, Edwin Lutyens’ grand vision of India’s new capital city, New Delhi.
Built in 1931, it is a bastion of old-style charm and elegance, a reminder of what life was like in the halcyon days of the Raj when the hotel played host to Indian and British aristocracy. It was here that Pandit Nehru, Mahatama Gandhi, Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Lord Mountbatten met in the 1930s, to discuss the partition of India and creation of Pakistan.
The shining marble floors, gleaming teak and rosewood timber furnishings and glittering crystal chandeliers in the reception areas set the scene for what’s to come. On the walls, India’s British history is told in the amazing collection of 18th and 19th century British art which hangs in every room, hallway, bar, restaurant and public space – it’s like walking through an art gallery!
ROOM FOR TWO
The 234 elegant rooms and suites are furnished in keeping with the overall design ethos of grand luxury. Some are colonial and some Art Deco in style and furnishings, but all have large marble bathrooms with bath and shower. Our colonial style room, which overlooked one of the lovely gardens, was perfect in every way. Spacious with a king-size bed, lounge and desk, it also had a separate dressing room and that lovely marble bathroom with a full-size bath just perfect for soaking. There’s a certain romantic pleasure to staying somewhere that was such a part of India’s history.
With eight places to dine, imbibe or lounge, there’s no excuse to leave the hotel. Start your evening with a drink at the very traditional bar, Patiala Peg or the 1911 Bar which offers more than 500 beverages! For dinner choose Italian at San Gimignano which has a delightful courtyard for balmy evenings and great pizza and pasta.
For traditional fare try Daniell’s Tavern, which is not a tavern at all, but a fabulously decorated restaurant with an open kitchen and a pan-Indian menu or, if you fancy south-east asian food, you have The Spice Route. Lauded as as one of the top ten restaurants in the world by Condé Nast Traveller, its decor is as amazing as the food, with walls and columns hand-painted by artists brought in from Kerala in the south of the country.
Breakfast is served in the signature restaurant, 1911, which pays tribute to the historic milestone of that year when New Delhi was named as the Imperial Capital of India. The veranda area was our favourite spot because of the view over three acres of beautiful gardens. Serving an international cuisine, it is open for lunch and dinner as well.
COUPLES WILL LOVE
Sybaritic couples will love a spa treatment in the Mogul Suite, a luxury private spa for couples that evokes a feeling of spiritual harmony and offers the facilities of steam, sauna, and Jacuzzi. More energetic couples will head to the Health & Racquet Club with its well equipped techno gym, pilates reformer and Yoga studio for a workout, before heading to the incredible pool for a swim. There’s so much to love at this hotel!
There’s more than enough places to visit in and around the old city of Delhi and the best way is to hire a car and driver to take you. Your guide will organise a ride in a pedicab through the twisting, turning alleys of Chandni Chowk, the bazaar area in Old Delhi where you can haggle to your heart’s content - just be sure to start at 50% of the asking price!
Visit Khan Market, an area popular with middle class Indians and expats alike for its great shopping, cafes and restaurants. If you have time you could take a ‘Travelling Spoon Cooking Class’ which gives an opportunity to experience local life with a family in Delhi.