Variety

The Leela Palace Kempinski, New Delhi review - Palatial pampering in Delhi's belly

Anushya Mamtora | Updated on August 17, 2011

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The Leela Palace, New Delhi   -  BUSINESS LINE

The Leela Palace, New Delhi

The Leela Palace, New Delhi

The Leela Palace, New Delhi

The Leela Palace, New Delhi

Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens' motto was said to be Metiendo Vivendum – ‘By measure we live'. Small wonder then that his architectural work, still fondly called Lutyens' Delhi, is at its impressive best almost a century later, inspiring us with its perfection and appropriateness. When The Leela – Palaces, Hotels, Resorts decided to serenade the domes and columns in Lutyens' Delhi with a property of its own, the inspiration was obvious - the same sense of measured flamboyance and the same marriage of European charm with Mughal magnificence. And just like the measured exactness that Sir Lutyens sought in locating his best architectural work on Raisina Hill, the new Leela too is located ideally in the heart of Delhi's business and cultural hub, and is yet just a 30-minute ride away from the airport.

The Leela's luxury abode in New Delhi takes off from this brilliant architect's vision of a vibrant, stately, majestic city. And it reverberates from the dome of the new Leela Palace's splendid facade to the elegant round arches, its opulent interiors, green niches and even the minute carvings, paintings and panels that adorn the walls. It blends in beautifully with the grand residences and historical monuments at the exclusive Diplomatic Enclave (near Chanakyapuri) – The Presidential Palace or Rashtrapati Bhavan, the Prime Minister's office, Government ministries and embassies. Yet, in its own way, this new edifice stands tall and distinct as the brand new The Leela Palace Kempinski, New Delhi.

Royal feel, contemporary rendition

The first thing that strikes when you drive up the road to the entrance, is its unmistakable presence - a looming stone façade with arches and inset pillars and two massive elephant sculptures. Stepping inside, the Colonial-era-style exteriors give way to a royal Mughal setting. Carefully chosen fabrics adorning plush sofas, gold gilded furniture, mother-of-pearl inlay work, large Venetian glass mirrors – the interiors are much like those you will come across at the Leela's other Palace properties.

This hotel chain invests heavily in the interiors of its properties giving them an aura of luxury like no other. At this new Leela Palace, the finery further gives way to a lush green lawn, an ideal open air set up to soak in some breeze, feel the sun, indulge in al fresco dining, yet revel in all the extravagance.

Also to feast your eyes are traditional Indian symbolic forms like the brass and gold plated 1,000 lotus mural by Satish Gupta, the Devi sculpture in the lawns by the same artist, exquisitely crafted Indian art, limited edition lithographs, intricate marble carvings and paintings by eminent artists like Satish Gujral, Laxma Goud and Paresh Maity, amongst others.

Located around these artistic expressions are 260 well appointed rooms, which range from Grande Deluxe Rooms with a tariff of about Rs 25,000 to the Maharaja Suite available for Rs 4.5 lakh per night.

Many of The Leela's properties are also a delightful amalgam of opposites like the number of high-tech features you'll find cozying up with recreated royalty. And the New Delhi property is no exception – there are a lot of new technological inclusions that have been the focus of this property. General Manager, Charles Morris, highlighting the important aspects of the hotel, points out their efforts to bring in tech to the guest rooms, like the JBL docking station to control audio-visual devices to the Ad Notam Mirror television next to the bathtub.

Delectable cuisines

New Delhi being a foodie's paradise, the Leela already had many benchmarks to beat its restaurants and cuisines. At the time of the review, their all-day dining glass restaurant The Qube, as well the royal Indian kitchen Jamavar, were bustling with guests and waft of international and authentic ‘desi' cuisine had my stomach growling much before the food arrived. I tried the tomato crepes in pesto sauce and smoked vegetable lasagne from The Qube's lunch buffet spread and it was just perfect. Jamawar, on the other hand, fills up your artistic senses before your food reaches the table. Borrowing its name from an intricate weave or silk embroidery, it uses its namesake throughout its interiors in tasteful portions. They have a small but carefully selected à la carte menu with an interesting mix from India's royal cuisines.

The tandoori style cauliflower and broccoli , crisp babycorn with Mangalorean masala, Gucci pulao (flavoured rice with Kashmiri morels) and the signature khajoor-ki-phirni were commendable. For meat lovers, the biryanis and kebabs are a must try.

The Library Bar with plush mohair, velvet sofas and teardrop chandeliers is a neat hide-out for a cosy conversation or a book and champagne combo.

In the pipeline are Le Cirque, an Italian fine-dining restaurant at the 10{+t}{+h} level and Megu, a Japanese speciality restaurant.

Leisure touches

At The Leela Palace New Delhi, tired heads of state and stressed out businessmen can also avail the luxurious, pampering services of the ESPA spa. Aesthetically designed by interior designer Jeffrey Wilkes, the spa has a whole range of exclusive treatments. To experience the real Leela sumptuousness, one must opt for their signature rituals – Tan Lepa full body treatment, Kizhiswedana Synchronised massage and the Royal Leela Facial.

I tried the signature facial, where therapist Surjeet cleansed and exfoliated my face prior to a regenerating marma point massage using warm poultices infused with herbs to restore and replenish. The treatment reeked of…err…smelt of sheer luxury from the beginning to end and it even managed to miraculously subdue my stubborn pimple. Other interesting leisure features include The Royal Club, considered to be a ‘hotel-within-a-hotel' for those who reside in the Club rooms. With an exclusive Royal Club lounge, evening cocktail hours, complimentary airport transfers by limousine and more, guests are in for some royal indulgence. A dip in the pool at the terrace while you soak in the spectacular view of the city should also be on your cards if you are staying at The Leela Palace.

However, what is simply breathtaking is the 4,500 sqft Maharaja suite that is opulent, with state-of-the-art facilities and a complimentary chauffeur driven Rolls Royce Phantom at your service! Whoever said luxury is an addiction, was so damn right!

Published on April 27, 2011

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