The Luxury Travel Bible - LUXURY HOTELS: The Park, New Delhi, India

LUXURY HOTELS: The Park, New Delhi, india
Style: Barbarella takes a trip to New New Delhi
Scene: Just off Connaught Place
Seen in Lobby: The rising cool set of India
Anyone who ever found reason to pass through Delhi - even as recently as 10 years ago - will barely recognise the capital. So difficult a destination it had a stomach sickness named after it, the air was clouded by fumes, the sidewalks littered with plastic bags.
Today, deeply embedded in a clean and green revolution, Delhi is almost sparkling. The transformation in such a short space of time is staggering: you breathe fresh air, enclaves full of designer shops are sprouting, there's a slick subway system that makes New York's so last century. Yes, you still shouldn't drink the water (not even when brushing your teeth) and hand wipes are wonderful if you're eating out and about, but Delhi keeps readying itself up for hosting the 2010 Commonwealth Games. And in this age of climate change, its shift from pollution almost provokes a mantra: if Delhi can do it, any major city can do it.

aqua   the poolside bar   park new delhi
aqua   the poolside bar   park new delhi
deluxe suite at the residence, the park new delhi
park new delhi  mist our all hour dining restaurant
bar at the park new delhi
agni   the bar at the park new delhi, india
fire   our pan indian restaurant   park new delhi

Yet for all that's new in New Delhi, perhaps one of the greatest surprises is The Park Hotel. Stepping into the space age style of a lobby that would easily sit in the Paris boutique hotel set is vaguely disorienting at first. In this largely white modular zone, globular amoebic shapes are cut out of curved walls. In the ceiling the recessed hemispheres are edged in neon lighting. Groups of clear tubular 'chandeliers' dangle dreamily. A clear-beaded curtain snakes its way sensually around chat zones which are inhabited by long, low, curved pink velvet sofas and oval rugs. Only the use of pink, an Indian colour of celebration, and beads are loose reminders that you are here.

Shooting up in the lift to The Residence - two private floors of executive style - you begin to see just how cleverly UK interior designers Conran and Partners have brought old style India into the 21st Century. The Hindu elemental theme of Vaastu Shastra throughout the hotel is continued here as 'earth'. You see it in the carpet - bold, irregular width stripes in greens and burnt brown and oranges. You see it on the walls with the Hindi word symbol for earth that has been graphically stamped into the plaster.

In the rooms, fired oak wall panels treated with lime demarcate areas. The bedhead is a cushioned panel of neutral leather occasionally stamped with a gerbera pattern, as if by an old Indian rice stamp. Skinny troughs of live wheat grass, signalling a green Delhi, grow across the backs of desks. In the bathrooms, the style heads further east with the smooth curve of a Japanese tub and the square panel of a super large rain shower.

It is the technology that utterly throws us. Delhi has always been merde with its riot of wiring - great tangles that loom in the air - and its electricity blackouts. Here, there is broadband, a docking station for your i-Pod and large LCD tvs. We don't need to try the 24 hour instant service, but we're sure - like everything here - it works.

The Residence Lounge area floats above Delhi like your own privateviewing platform. Through one large window you look out across the angled terracotta beauty of Jantar Mantar, the 18th century observatory. Others reveal a vision of the ever-changing Connaught Place which, it seems, now opens designer shops by the minute. The view is echoed in a map of Luytens Delhi, with Connaught at its centre, that's stamped into the alabaster plaster on the walls.
Groups of clear tubular 'chandeliers' dangle DREAMILY. A clear-beaded curtain snakes sensually  around chat zones.
The Lounge has patterned screens dividing off private eating zones as well as a large square table for shared dining. Here you can eat a complimentary breakfast and a la carte lunch and dinner. Down in the lobby level Fire restaurant, Chef Dean's food has been awarded Best Indian Restaurant two years in a row. Try the Chaat platter - a row of delicious Indian street temptations laid out like Japanese sushi.

At this level too, the designer power of the award-winning Agni bar and Aqua poolside bar and dining can be experienced. Order a Satan's Whiskers cocktail and enjoy the dark, devil's lair atmosphere of Agni. At Aqua choose between a cane and canvas covered love seat or a sheer-draped pavilion and turn up your own heat.

You can undo any partying damage on the outdoor yoga deck with morning and evening classes, or slip into luxury at Aura Spa. Here a mix of all-natural ingredients and a menu that runs from 'Stress Busters' to traditional 'Siddha Marma Massage' defies any of the former chaos of urban Delhi. We blink again.

Check in: 15 Parliament Place, New Delhi 110 001, +911 2374 3000
Ultimate Luxury: The Residence - two floors of private super luxury rooms with exclusive lounge and dining.
Most Indulgent Moment: Toss between olive oil treatment massage and curling up in a private tented lounge with a cocktail beside the pool.
Junior Luxies: No special facilities but children are welcome.
Dress code: Sleek but not too bare.
Perfect luggage: A hybrid backpack: wheels for five star city stays with on the back convenience for exploring the rest of India.
Luxury Hotels Link:
 Prue Rushton 6/4/10
Copyright © 2024 The Luxury Travel Bible