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With an airport that opens to the whole of India and beyond, New Delhi is a critical juncture in any journey to India. A jumping off point for places like Madaya Pradesh and Rajasthan, the country’s capital is no less a tourist destination. The organized madness of Old Delhi tickles all the senses, and spectacular architecture from the Mughal era dots the metropolis.

For the luxury traveler to New Delhi, the experience is about feeling welcomed, about walking into an expansive lobby of a hotel for the first time and be treated with familiarity. It is about having all your whims and wishes taken care of before you get a chance to ask. Always brimming with excitement, the city’s contrasting nature can sometimes be a little overwhelming. That’s where the luxury accommodations make all the difference.

The Leela Palace New Delhi

A relatively new property, The Leela Palace took form in 2011 surrounded by embassies, wide roads, and gardens in the highly exclusive Diplomatic Enclave.

Staying at The Leela Palace New Delhi is a gratifying affair. The hotel boasts the only infinity terrace pool in the city along with 18 suites that come with butler service and access to the Royal Club Lounge and a swarm of notable amenities.

The beauty of the hotel’s architecture and interiors is evident from the moment one steps into the lobby, and the same sophistication is carried forward into the rooms which consist of astounding décor and furnishings. The Leela calls itself as the “Capital’s only Modern Palace” and it lives up to that label.

The Leela Group has 30-years of know-how in the service sector making it one of the most prominent hotel chains of the country, with humble beginnings under the tutelage of Captain CP Krishnan Nair who came from a modest agricultural background, was part of the Free India Army in his early adult years, and then went on to run one of the leading handloom businesses of the country. It was in 1986 that he ventured into hotels with The Leela Mumbai, named for his wife, and since then Leela properties have expanded into an empire.

The Oberoi New Delhi

ABOVE: Room at the Oberoi New Delhi.

The Oberoi New Delhi is an integral part of Delhi’s psyche, and not just for visitors – even the locals have fond associations with the hotel, whether it’s the lobby decorations at Christmas or one of the finest in-house restaurants in the region. The Oberoi is a destination filled with nostalgia for many like myself. Their Patisserie especially holds fond remembrances as it has been the go-to place to order birthday cakes every year.

Oberoi, the brand, is synonymous with quality, lavishness, and most importantly it epitomizes impeccable service. The Oberoi New Delhi might be an “old” establishment having its foundation in 1965, but it has remained in tune with the times and upgraded itself to cater to the ever-increasing demands of the modern-day traveler.

Recently, the hotel went through a 20-month refurbishment, supervised by designer Adam Tihany, which included heated pools, larger bedrooms, and air purification to help deal with Delhi’s now infamous smog. The renovations for the hotel – positioned between Humayun’s Tomb and the Delhi Golf Club – brought down the total number of rooms from 283 to 220.

ABOVE: View over New Delhi from the Oberoi New Delhi.

All the rooms at the hotel amalgamate the old with the new to give guests a warm sense of familiarity. However, for the ultimate treat, the Kohinoor Suite is par excellence and comes with a private study, personal gym, and unmatched views of the capital.

The Lodhi

Established close to Lodhi Gardens, a reminder of the city’s past and a favorite spot for locals, The Lodhi has only 40 rooms and uses its area to give customers excellent living space and signature amenities.

Refurbished in 2012, the highlight of staying at this hotel is the presence of plunge pools in most of its rooms. Measuring at 1350 square feet, these rooms are amongst the largest in the city – and that’s not taking into account the suites.

The suites come with wide balconies that are perfect for al-fresco dining. For an unrivalled stay, the Sultan Suite promises spacious apartment-like living with bedrooms, a kitchenette, plunge pool, and elegant furnishings.

One of the biggest attractions at The Lodhi is that it plays host to Indian Accent. A world-renowned fine dining restaurant led by Chef Manish Mehrotra, Indian Accent is considered the best in India and finds a listing in the Top 100 Restaurants of the World.

ABOVE: The Lodhi indoor spa pool.

With just 40 rooms The Lodhi is what I would label a boutique 5-star New Delhi property that has a contemporary aura about it, allowing an intimate and personal sojourn that true connoisseurs of fine living can appreciate.

The Imperial Hotel

For old-world charm and exceptional service, travelers should look to the iconic Imperial. Situated at Janpath, the Imperial is in close proximity to Connaught Place, the epicenter of all business and leisure activities; however, it is the artistically balanced nature of the hotel that truly stands out.

Built-in 1931 by Blomfield, an associate of Sir Edwin Lutyen, and inaugurated in 1936, the Imperial is the embodiment of all things affluent. Rooms at the hotel follow different themes ranging from Deco to Heritage while private marble baths and linen sourced from Porthault, France guarantee peaceful ablutions in luxury. Of course, the Royal Imperial Suite with its four poster bed and opulent décor is the crème de la crème of suites in the city.

Keeping in mind the needs of different travelers, the Imperial also has a separate “single lady corridor” with Eliza rooms appointed for women traveling alone. A number of distinct facilities in this area include CCTV cameras outside each room, female staff, telephone call screening, and airport pickup conducted with a designated female staff member.

ABOVE: Luxury suite at the Imperial Hotel.

When it comes to culinary adventures, Spice Route is an exquisite restaurant serving Southeast Asian cuisine. The restaurant took almost seven years to complete as the décor comprises hand-painted motifs using vegetable and flower dyes.

The Oberoi Gurgaon

Located close to the airport and in the commercial hub that is Gurgaon, The Oberoi here carries forward the name, style, and heritage of its brand. The most admirable aspect of the hotel and a striking feature that stands out, as soon as you enter, is the reflection pool in the center. The pool makes The Oberoi, Gurgaon a real oasis of calm amidst the chaos of the city.

The hotel presents the choicest of dining options to its guests including the famous threesixtyone°. Serving delectable multi-national cuisine, the Sunday Brunch at the restaurant is legendary for its variety and personal service. For those who are curious, the place gets its name from the equally popular threesixty° at The Oberoi New Delhi. The one in Gurgaon is said to be “one degree higher” in all respects.

The hotel, in tune with the brand’s aesthetics of catering to customers every need, also houses a salon, luxury retail shop, 24-hour spa and fitness centre, and an art gallery, thus using its nine-acre space to the maximum, while still keeping it spacious and airy.