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Sneak peek at The Aman New Delhi

There are just business hotels in New Delhi. So what is a resort doing bang in the middle of the city, overlooking a crematorium and an arterial flyover, at a site where we had got used to seeing a rather sleazy and worn out government hotel that went by the name of The Lodhi?

The Aman is hardly what you expect it to be. I take a good 10 minutes figuring out the entrance. Because unlike other hotels’, this does not face the front—the main road. What is required is some dexterous maneuvering around Delhi’s changed topography and finally I take a turn to where the entrance is located. As I enter, after the mandatory security check, I am unsure of where to park the car, or whether in deed this is the right porch to drive into for valet parking. The porch is quiet—once again a change ffrom other hotels—and there are no obvious doormen or valets in sight. But as I drive up, a cheerful young man comes to collect the keys. He knows my name and the fact that I am expected at one of the restaurants inside (I am reviewing it and the hotel’s GM as well as the PR people are meeting me.) That completely bowls me over. The level of personalization and attention to detail at this hotel, a spacious property but with a small number of rooms, is astounding.

What is also charming is a fleet of Ambassador cars at one end of the porch.  Before Japanese and Korean technology changed the way cars and sedans zipped through a modern India, the Amby was everyone’s favourite, often compared to an elephant (for its slowness and size), an animal that is revered enough in India traditionally. (Apart from Ganesha , the elephant-headed god, bringer of good fortune, invoked for auspicious beginnings, traditionally, a beautiful woman’s gait has been compared to an elephant’s swinging one!) Later, it became a symbol of government might, as the bureaucracy moved around in its royal fleet of red beacon-fitted Ambys. But what is the Amby doing in a plush new resort, the best of private enterprise, where room rates begin at Rs 35,000 a night, no discounts, even in these recessionary times?

Instead of making use of Pajeros and the like in the manner of other elite hotels, The Aman has decided on a fleet of specially customized Ambassador cars for its guests. A charming thought. Any way, I make my way into the lobby of the hotel— which is once again, more like someone’s living room rather than a lobby per se—past staff that offers me a courteous “pranam” (Hindu way of greeting) instead of “good morning” and check out the restaurants.

There are two at the moment in the hotel; both open to outside guests—in what is a change from the usual Aman tradition elsewhere. The  Spanish restaurant is the one I visit, spread over three floors, it offers Catalonian gastronomy, but it is the tapas bar in the basement that I really love. It has a positive energy to it and the staff is really friendly and down to earth. We chat easily and they convince me to try some sherry as well apart from the tapas. (Iberio ham is on the menu; very expensive obviously but in the context of the Swine flu, we’d best leave it out.)

Sherry is something that I would never be keen on in the ordinary course. No one in India knows about it any way—the few who do know it thanks to all the British literature and fiction that we’ve read thanks to our colonial past. It is a sickly sweet drink in our minds, reserved for older aunts. This sherry is very different though. The first revelation, of course, is that there are so many of them—just like wine. The second, that not all are sweet.

The tapas bar, with its leather and wood accents, is distinctly different from the rest of the hotel built in stone with mesmerizing jails cut into it—the way you would find in the grand old Mughal buildings in sandstone. There are huge splashes of green outside, and I spot at least one enchanting swimming pool, next to which is a spa and salon that has all of Delhi queuing up for a haircut. A hair cut here costs you Rs 12,000 ($240). Nevertheless, it has a booking period of about a month, or so we are told.

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4 Responses to “Sneak peek at The Aman New Delhi”

  1. LW says:

    Good Luck and Happy Blogging.

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