NEW DELHI, INDIA
BEST FOR: THOSE LOOKING FOR A BUZZY CITY BREAK
NOT FOR: A LOW-KEY STAY
This masterpiece of modern hotel design is the most buzzed about renovation in recent memory in the capital. For half a century, The Oberoi New Delhi had been an icon of the city, a hotspot where the glitterati flocked with the likes of Bill Gates, Giorgio Armani and the Dalai Lama, who celebrated his 80th birthday here, lured through its doors. Louis Vuitton opened its first store in India here. Then, in April 2016, the hotel closed for a major restoration. Twenty months and £75 million later, this big hitter re-opened, a more contemporary version of its old self – and the epitome of sleek glamour.
Set in more than five acres of land with luscious gardens in one of Delhi’s most stylish areas, the huge marble lobby, overlooking cobalt-blue pools in the garden, welcomes you in, lined with impeccable staff, trained to within an inch of their lives. Cool jazz wafts in from the cigar lounge, where regular smokers can have their own cigar lockers. The acclaimed New York City-based interior designer Adam Tihany is the man behind the new look, for which he took inspiration from Sir Edwin Lutyens’ design for the city. The result is an intelligent mix of aesthetics with custom-made Lutyens’ style teak and oak furniture in the creamy public spaces blending seamlessly with upholstery in India’s vibrant colour palette.
The 220 rooms (including 34 suites) are generously sized, overlooking the densely wooded greens of Delhi Golf Course; others have fine views of magnificent Humayun’s Tomb. Enjoy turquoise walls, peacock-blue cushions, hand-tufted rugs, large windows and fine Italian marble bathrooms. An iPad controls your every move from curtain-opening to “Prayer direction” (it points you towards Mecca). Splash out on the presidential Kohinoor Suite, an exquisite picture of pale-green Indian silk, milky-white Greek Thassos marble, life-size bronze sculptures and bookshelves of leather-bound classics.
Several new restaurants add to the excitement, too. Omya (which means “beautiful”) is headed up by London-based Alfred Prasad, the youngest Indian chef with a Michelin star. With an outstanding contemporary Indian menu, showcasing the variety of flavours across the subcontinent, try the Anaar Ka Panna (chilled pomegranate and melon soup with chia seeds), followed by the Punjabi curry of spring chicken. Another Michelin star Andrew Wong (of London’s A. Wong restaurant) leads the charge at Baoshuan, the rooftop Chinese restaurant – the spicy tempura lamb is the stuff of legend. Thronging with Delhi’s elite, threesixty° serves excellent international cuisine including lavish buffet breakfasts with a choice of a whopping 11 teas. In the evening, the rooftop bar Cirrus 9 is the place to be, where a fun crew gathers, while more docile night owls will prefer to settle down in the cigar lounge.
The revamped spa hits all the high notes. Flooded with natural light and stylish antique furniture, the treatments are a clever mix of east meets west – plump for the Himalayan rice body treatment, which replenishes and restores the skin, using almond powder and grains of Himalayan rice to gently remove dead skin cells. All the usual offerings are here, too: steam, sauna, state-of-the art fitness centre and indoor and outdoor pools. There are complementary yoga sessions every morning plus golf lessons can be organised on request.
The Oberoi, New Delhi in its reincarnation continues to tick all the boxes. A place imbued with character and soul, where guests are treated with grace and courtesy, and, refreshingly, design is never put ahead of function.
CONTACT: Carrier curates bespoke itineraries to India including stays at The Oberoi, New Delhi. 0161 492 1355, www.carrier.co.uk
PRICE: From £105 per person, per night
NEAREST AIRPORT: Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi
TRANSFER TIME: Around 40 minutes