Whether for a weekend staycation or a long holiday, The Shangri-La at New Delhi is a place where enviable location meets old-school hospitality, and results in an unforgettable Delhi experience.
Edwin Lutyen had a job – a job to create central Delhi as a hub that emphasized the nation’s shrouded political status and retain the traditional heritage vibe. This was a time when India was still a colony of the British Empire and the winds of change were but a zephyr, soon to become a storm. Lutyen’s job entailed setting up, designing and building the central administrative zone of the capital. Being a member of the Arts & Crafts Movement, Lutyen was deeply inspired by natural elements and the English style of architecture but his sensibilities were such that he also absorbed from the region, which can be seen in the motifs of Lutyen’s Delhi. We got the chance to experience a part of a city we have lived in for decades in an entirely different light and all it took was a weekend at Shangri-La’s flagship property, which sits like a jewel in the heart of Lutyen’s Delhi.
Beauty all around
Hong Kong based Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts is one of the world’s premier hotel ownership and management companies. True to belief, the name of this chain is inspired by James Hilton’s novel, the Lost Horizon and the mystical land of serenity created therein. After over four decades in hospitality, Shangri-La is the paradigm of spectacular service and they seem to have absorbed a lot from the traditions of the country they are in. The Shangri-La at New Delhi sees sari clad front office staff ever ready with their hands folded and a soft demeanour, very reminiscent of old school hospitality and very welcome in a time where ‘Hi’ has replaced the humble ‘Namaste’. This property is as close to Connaught Place as it gets and practically a stone’s throw from inimitable heritage sites. It is composed of a towering block that has the architectural styling of Edwin Lutyen, retained in bits and parts, landscaped green lawns, a regal driveway and a sense of old world charm that is very inclusive. We chose to head to our room upon arrival and were happy to be led to a suite that had one very striking feature. The bay window in the bedroom had a view which was fit to be artwork. The lush foliage of central Delhi, India Gate in the distance, the minars and domes of heritage sites in the surroundings – it was all cumulatively quite beautiful.
Space and silence
Our suite was pristine to say the least, with an adjoining living room and work space, the sense of spaciousness was more than welcome. Vintage dark wood furniture and accents on the wall added to the charm. Here, luxury came in the form of space and silence; any floor above the 5th takes you away from the city and transports you to a space in the skies. Add a bathtub and luxury bath products and you can create a spa experience right in your room. The sleeping area was as spacious with a slightly old fashioned look in terms of décor but with plenty of storage space so you don’t have to feel like a traveller even when you are one. Since the view was sheer pleasure, staying in bed with a book seemed like the ideal thing to do. So, our first afternoon was spent tucked in after an hour in the bathtub and a chilled soda and a bag of chips. Room Service does tend to take time but you get what you order and it is served with a smile.
Dinner at Tamra
By evening we were ready and energized, we headed to their new all day dining kitchen, Tamra. Inspired by copper, the metal, Tamra is a beautifully lit, multi cuisine, all day dining kitchen which brings you the best of the East and the West, from Japanese to Mughlai- a meal at Tamra has something for everyone, even those travellers seeking homemade rotis after a long day. There is a lady who comes in at dinner time and makes hand rolled rotis to add to the traditional fervour of Tamra. We dug into a platter of sushi, then kebabs and finished with an array of exquisite desserts. A meal like this warranted an early evening and we were happy to return to our cosy, comfortable bed just a few floors up!
Great location for tourists
Day 2 was when we harnessed the true joy of the location this property stood at, we head out to see this face of Delhi. Connaught Place and surrounding sites are actually walking distance and if the weather is kind, then nothing like it! We started with the thrift shops at Janpath, vintage collectibles, street fashion and costume jewellery at unbelievable prices or you could hop across to Cottage Industries and buy products made by artisans from around the nation. Connaught Place also hosts several iconic eateries from a bygone era and if you’re in the mood to stay out for the day, there is plenty to choose from. Make your way across to the State Emporia road and shop for collectibles from every state of the country and if the kids are up for it, stop by the Hanuman Temple for a spot of henna art on your hands. Further down stand two landmarks that are a testament to the secular nature of our nation, the Gurudwara Bangla Sahib and the Sacred Heart Cathedral. It does take a day (or more) to enjoy this part of the city but by evening you can haul your weary feet back to the luxury of Shangri-La and stop by the Lobby Lounge for a much needed cup of coffee. Don’t miss the Uno2Go patisserie where the macarons are much sought after and the salmon croissant sandwich is just the ideal snack for a summer evening.
Business and pleasure
We headed back to our room, changed out of our tourist gear and hit the spa. An hour of much ‘kneaded’ therapy (pun intended) brought life back into us and we were ready for an evening of cocktails and appetizers. The Island Bar at the Lobby is perfect for a post work drink. Their selection of Scotch and wines are admirable but then being a cocktail person, I would recommend just a few of those before you head over to Tamra for dinner and realize the menu has changed entirely, making day 2 seem like a whole new day in the same hotel! After a good night’s sleep, you wake to check-out day of your weekend staycation but don’t leave without a dip in the pool. Nestled amidst lush green trees and a beautiful lawn, this is the epitome of peaceful luxury and do order yourself a cold coffee for the true joy of languishing by the pool. Opt for the hotel’s Horizon Club Rooms on the 19th floor and be privy to exclusive facilities like the use of the private lounge, beverages served all day, complimentary wi-fi, use of meeting rooms and evening cocktails and canapés.
If you are an outstation traveller then it’s good to know that Shangri-La is well connected by road and metro and if you are a business traveller then we recommend it even more. We recommend a staycation every two months, it keeps life in perspective and boredom of everyday living at bay. Like all good things in life, this staycation too, came to an end but not after refreshing us for the months of hustle and bustle of city life that lay ahead till we return for more.