At_Shangri-La, canapés are King. At least at Shangri-La’s – Eros Hotel in New Delhi! But we’ll get to that later. First, I must make a mention of its historic location. The hotel nestles within the capital’s illustrious government district. A 45-minute drive from the Indira Gandhi International Airport, it overlooks the prominent Connaught Place. And now, on to Mother of Pearl! Why? Because believe it or not, that’s what greets you when you first enter the hotel! Inspired by the legendary land featured in James Hilton’s novel Lost Horizon published in 1933, the name Shangri-La sure lives up to its mythical origins in the heart of India’s capital.
First impressions – With a semblance to a Persian carpet, the intricately designed pattern of inlay work in the lobby is exquisite to say the least. More often than not, we expect grandeur to be a given at five-star properties (Read: soaring ceilings, cascading chandeliers, swanky sofas, et al). There is that splendor of course. But one look at this work of art and you are bound to be overcome by its silver and gold gleam, engraved on the surface of a deep black stone and brought all the way from Makrana, Rajasthan to the city. From canapés to Mother of Pearl is a long stretch indeed but that just goes on to show that this particular property is a 19-story smorgasbord of Oriental luxury. Moving up.
Rooms – I’m now on the 18th floor, one story short of their Horizon Club Lounge. Fortunately for me, that won’t be for long. You see, while the hotel has an array of plush accommodations bedecked in contemporary Asian furnishings, from the Superior, Deluxe and Premier rooms to three different kinds of suites, your, say, Superior Room could go to being a Horizon Superior Room (available to book at $220, the rate varies seasonally) allowing you access to the aforementioned lounge with a host of other amenities. But besides that, most of its 320 tastefully modern guestrooms and suites boast spectacular views of the city’s historic diplomatic district.
So right after I enter my cozy, 290 square foot niche, no guesses there, Horizon Superior Room, my eyes skim over the welcome sweets and savories before stopping at one enormous window overlooking the serendipitous central Delhi. Naturally, I can’t wait to get up to the 19th story. But not before one peek into the bathroom, by which time I am floored. As any L’Occitane loyalist will tell you, it is never the shiny tiles or the elegant bath, always the gorgeous toiletries. The Internet bum in me is happy to hear of the complimentary broadband and wireless Internet access while a large flat screen satellite television stares me right in the face. A sucker for in-room entertainment, I like that kind of stares. For those who don’t, however, the room is also kitted with an International Direct Dial telephone, independent fax line and a full-size executive writing desk.
Leisure – Now, walking into the lounge, which I am told is a permanent exclusive fixture at all Shangri-La properties, I am thankful for its sparsely populated, art-dotted beauty. Canapé and cocktail hour begins in a bit before which, I intend to do away with some last minute work duties. I wouldn’t say that isn’t hard though, given a wall full of windows overlooking a smog stricken skyline, which only gets more beautiful when a wintry drizzle hits the city. I am well aware of the free flow of beverages available to those with lounge access so I try and stare into my complimentary cup of coffee so as to not be distracted by all that natural beauty. Soon, it is sundown and the scene is one of not-so-natural beauty, when the streets below are aglow with what look like tiny dots of light, dancing in the rain as motorists try to maneuver their way round the roads. One of them has luckily made his way up to the lounge to join me for what would be never-ending rounds of bubbly.
Dining – Here is the time I will remember the most, or rather not, but cherish it the most nevertheless. If your champagne glasses get topped up when you’re not looking, it automatically equals good service. Heck, great service! Now onto those great canapés, or little, bite-sized mounds of love, as I like to call them. They were my favorite part of the complimentary spread that included a selection of cheese, cold cuts and Chinese hors d’oeuvres, perfect for a quick bite before a lavish meal at any of the hotel’s signature restaurants, such as 19 Oriental Avenue. Or for light eaters like me, a meal in itself! Top marks to the chain for such a thoughtful exhibition of exclusivity. As for the staff, their skills, besides, surreptitious champagne topping included absolute friendliness to the point that they brought out the chef and replaced a great dish with an excellent one only so it could be crisper than crisp, this time with specks of asparagus in it. Why? Because Shangri-La.
Breakfast – Next morning, the light-eater in me awoke with massive hunger pangs, well in time for the Breakfast Buffet at the famed Café Uno. With a refreshing view over lush green gardens and the hotel’s swimming pool, the restaurant displayed a delectable spread of juices, delicatessen and Indian specialties. And guess what? After last night’s experience de résistance, once again, I got lucky. Meet Lucky, server extraordinaire. While the buffet was quite bounteous in itself, what with everything from my favorite made to order eggs to the excellent bread and butter pudding, it was turned into an early morning gastronomic experience, thanks to this server who single-handedly turned self-service grounds into a King’s court, and I, royalty! “Cold milk? I’m bring you,” he’d quip if you got up thinking he weren’t looking. And glass after cold glass of milk was handed over to me with such swiftness, as if it were my much-needed elixir for the morning. When they say this is where “you are treated like the Mughal Maharajas of yesteryear”, clearly they are not kidding.
Indulge – But is that enough? We know enough of our discerning readers to understand that merely pampering them, how ever much never is. Enter, Spa at Shangri La. With a variety of treatments, signature and otherwise, you are serenaded at the hands of an expert with aromatic massage oils. And when you are done rejuvenating and revitalizing, you can refresh at the hotel’s fitness center, take a dip in the beautiful pool or simply relax on the sundeck and unwind. Or if you are on a search for scrumptious, you can make your way to the stylish Lobby Lounge. It offers an impressive selection of teas, coffees and snacks, making it one of the hotel’s most popular social spaces. Seeking something more potent? Head to Island Bar then! This is where you can dive into a comprehensive drinks menu. Open from 3pm to 1 am, the place is an ambiently lit wine connoisseur’s delight! For non-connoisseur types, I’d say a ‘Whisky sour with a twist in the tail’ or a ‘Cinnamon Martini 800’ would be a great choice.
Meetings – Now, while the caffeine fueled writer in me would be fiercely protective of my spot at the Horizon Lounge, those flying not so solo would probably seek larger surrounds. And if that largeness come with views of a lush manicured terrace and luxurious interiors that offer latest state-of-the-art convention and conferencing facilities, which self-confessed highflier could possibly turn them down! Probably why the Shangri-La Ballroom gets many nods. Located on Level One of the hotel, it spans 602 square meters of lavish convenience for meetings and banquet celebrations. It can be divided into four sections for smaller gatherings as well. I had a daily 2-hour access to meeting room facilities, being a Horizon Club guest. I didn’t need them as you can tell, but if you do, you can choose from spaces called ‘Ganga’, ‘Yamuna’, ‘Tapti’ and ‘Vyas’.
Did you know? – The hotel has an indoor as well as an outdoor Jacuzzi for water babies. As for its location, it’s a sightseer’s paradise! Being in Central Delhi it offers you the privilege to surround yourself with the Mughal legacy of the Red Fort or the serenity of the Lodhi Gardens, both of which are close to the property. In fact, if you coordinate with the concierge, you get the chance of selecting from their fleet of luxury cars, including the immaculate Rolls Royce Phantom to tour the city! The royal vehicle is available at a rental of INR 55,000 a day ($880 approx.) and INR 8,000 ($130 approx.) for a one-hour city tour around Lutyens Delhi. As the sights and sounds of the day fade away, you can return to the hotel, which is a self-contained sanctuary in the very vibrant Delhi! How I know this is because as I bid goodbye to its sophisticated atmosphere, I finally knew what the concierge meant when he said, “welcome to your ‘home’ at Shangri-La’s – Eros Hotel.”
Shangri-La’s – Eros Hotel, New Delhi
19 Ashoka Road,
New Delhi, 110001,
Tel – (91-11) 4119-1919