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For Modern Day Royalty

From international chains to heritage boutique hotels, the past year has seen the launch of several luxury hotels. A look at some of them

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Narendra Bhawan, Bikaner

If you want to feel like royalty, there is no place like Rajasthan. With a huge number of forts and palaces converted into luxury hotels, it is the ultimate destination for those wanting to live like the royals of a bygone era. Narendra Bhawan in Bikaner, the latest design boutique hotel from The MRS Group, does the whole royalty thing but with a twist. The outside facade of the hotel with its beautiful jaali work, does make the hotel look like a palace. But inside it’s more like a tastefully done up house strongly influenced by the Bombay Art Deco movement. “Narendra Bhawan was the home of Narendra Singh ji, the last Maharaja of Bikaner and the hotel is a tribute to his life and travels,” says Manvendra Singh Shekhawat, managing director of The MRS Group.

There is none of the kitsch that we associate with Rajasthan here. No one makes you wear a bandhej turban or does a tilak while welcoming you to the hotel. Instead, a military bugle is sounded, a reference to Bikaner’s great military past. In the evenings, instead of the traditional Rajasthani folk dance, guests are entertained by Jazz artists.

The hotel is beautifully decorated with antiques, artefacts and books! Over a 1,000 books from the Penguin classics collection are kept in shelves all over the hotel, encouraging guests to laze around with a book. Modern Indian furniture, Portuguese tiles and tribal art works add vibrancy to the decor.

The hotel has curated several experiences to help guests explore Bikaner. While there are trips to the Bikaner fort, Sadul museum and royal cenotaphs, it is the especially curated culinary experiences that make Narendra Bhawan a destination in itself. From having sundowners near a lake to candle lit dinners organised in the great outdoors where the decor is all white, every meal is an experience. Do try the museum dinner where the chefs interpret a 1920’s French menu from the king’s court, or the blind dinner where you are blindfolded and a six course meal is served to you. It’s true food meditation. 

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Conrad, Pune

Luxury has a new address in Pune. The 310-room Conrad hotel (the first Conrad in India and only the 34th in the world) near Koregaon Park, in the heart of the city, is undoubtedly, one of the most luxurious business hotels in Pune, if not in India. Everything from the liveried chauffeur who drives you in an Audi from the airport to the reception counter that is set with amethysts to match the Conrad colour (the brand’s official colour is purple), spells luxury. And this is even before you check into your room. The rooms are big and comfortable with modern amenities and fancy tech such as curtains that close at the touch of a button and in-mirror televisions in bathrooms. There is an emphasis on design, be it the round table instead of the standard work station or the beautiful cabinet that doubles up as the mini bar. The hotel is perfect for the business traveller with its executive lounge and 24-hour business centre offering free high-speed Wi-Fi.

As part of its global ‘Stay Inspired’ theme, Conrad offers guests one-, three- and five-hour itineraries to explore the city of Pune. Designed after considerable research by the concierge team, the itineraries include unique excursions to explore Pune’s burgeoning craft-brewing scene, century old cave temples, museums and local food.

So on your next visit to Pune, do explore the city by either following a fixed itinerary, or speak to the concierge and get a tailor-made itinerary depending on how much time you have. And in case you don’t feel like stepping out, just relax at the hotel. You can take a dip in the temperature-controlled swimming pool, relax at the spa or simply dine at the multitude of restaurants that offer everything from comfort food such as masala Maggie and vada pao to fine dining Japanese, Thai and Indian cuisine. And while you are at it, don’t forget to check out their wine cellar and huge collection of sake.  

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The Oberoi Sukhvilas Resort & Spa, Siswan Forest Range, New Chandigarh

Surrounded with over 8,000 acres of protected natural forests at the foothills of the outer Himalayas, The Oberoi Sukhvilas Resort & Spa, Siswan Forest Range, New Chandigarh is a luxurious weekend getaway, at least for those living in Delhi. Just half an hour away from the Chandigarh city centre, the resort is the first of its kind in that area.

Of course, as a spa destination, it is the 12,000-sq ft spa offering a Turkish hamam, Roman tepidarium and ayurvedic treatments that is the highlight of the resort. But the accommodation too makes it an ideal getaway. Check into one of the royal tents that have been inspired by the caravans that crossed the desert during the British Raj. These tents are triple canopied and are lavishly furnished. The Royal Forest Tents come with a private pool. For the ultimate in luxury, check into the 4.220-sq ft Kohinoor Villa, reminiscent of a traditional haveli, with a sun-lit courtyard, three bedrooms, a temperature-controlled swimming pool and a private garden.

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W, Goa

One of the most anticipated hotel launches of last year was the W Goa located on Vagator Beach. W Hotels, part of Marriott International, selected Goa as the location for its 50th hotel worldwide as it felt Goa was perfect given its “electrifying nightlife, vibrant fashion scene and colourful culture.”

The 160-room W Goa includes villas, chalets, suites and a WOW villa (the brand’s take on the presidential suite). Be prepared for an onslaught of colours as different hues of blue and purple give each room a psychedelic look. The highlight of the resort is undoubtedly the 14,000-sq ft Clarins Spa where each detail is inspired by the great baths of Pompeii. Among other things, the spa includes an oxygen room and a heated vitality pool.

A stay at the hotel is incomplete without dining at Spice Traders, the hotel’s pan Asian restaurant that offers not only great food but also spectacular ocean views. And if you wish to party, do hang out at Rock Pool that is set high upon a cliff and serves amazing cocktails.

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JW Marriott Hotel, Kolkata

The City of Joy has a new jewel in its crown. The JW Marriott, Kolkata is the eighth JW property in India and is as luxurious as the others with grand chandeliers and rose-gold panels. While this majestic 281-room hotel is perfect if you are visiting the city for a few days on business or leisure, it is ideal if you are planning to host a wedding celebration or a corporate event as it has the largest ballroom in the city. The hotel is focussed on the wedding market and in a first, has a bridal room which offers brides an exclusive, private space for pre-wedding preparations. In another first, it has the country’s largest in-built video wall measuring 32 feet by 18 feet and comprising 64 LED panels.

The hotel offers a variety of cuisines at its various restaurants and also has a night club. The spa and the infinity pool are perfect for relaxing after a long day.   

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Roseate House, Delhi Aerocity

Now here’s something we don’t see every day. A luxury hotel whose design is inspired by a book. The interiors of the 216-room Roseate House at Delhi’s Aerocity are based on stories from a book called Bathtub by Arjun Puri. The text from the pages of the book have been spread across the entire hotel.

Continuing with the theme, the room categories are referred to as Chapters. The ultimate chapter is the ‘Presidential Suite’, which has its own outdoor, heated swimming pool overlooking the runway.

While book-inspired hotels are a rarity, having an ultra-modern cinema hall within the hotel is quite unique too. Upstage at the Roseate House is a 71-seater cinema hall where you can hold award nights, seminars or just a great evening with your favourite movie, friends and family.

Enjoy Indian, Japanese and world cuisine at a selection of restaurants at the hotel and do grab a drink at the uniquely-named Chidiya Ghar bar.  

[email protected]; @smitabw


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