An important aspect of any trip for me are the hotels and resorts that are my temporary homes. A truly great property is so much more than a simple place to spend the night, they become integral aspects of the trip itself and, many times, even create some of those incredible memories we take home with us. Traveling with luxury tour operator Abercrombie & Kent, I know that the hotels will always be amazing, but in India even I was surprised at the incredible quality of hotels across the country. Some of the hotels I visited in India weren’t just nice, they rank amongst the best I’ve ever experienced thanks in large part to their individual histories and commitment to service. That was certainly the case at the Leela Palace Hotel in New Delhi, for these reasons and many more.
I love hotels with great stories, but in the case of the Leela that story isn’t from the property, but its owners. Krishnan Nair came from very humble beginnings, but upon entering the handloom industry after WWII, he soon revolutionized this nearly lost art form. Drawing on traditional styles, his designs soon became a hot commodity around the world, securing his own fame. Since he was an avid luxury traveler for business, he began to understand the nuances of a great luxury hotel. So, for his second act in life, he started the Leela group and since then the hotels and resorts of this new brand have been ranked amongst the best in the world. That passion though for creative thought is seen by every guest at the Leela Palace Hotel in a variety of ways, but especially its well-curated art collection. Throughout the hotel well-chosen works of art commingle expertly with the architecture and design of the hotel, creating a special atmosphere that’s almost totally unique for a luxury hotel. Passion drives me personally, so when I find it in the travel world it strikes a special chord.
Service and Comfort
Of course, five-star hotels should naturally feature incredible service and that’s certainly true at the Leela Palace Hotel. That comfort starts in the rooms, which are amongst the largest in the city – even the base level options. Walking in it’s impossible not to be reminded that you’re in the bustling capital city of India. Rich reds and softer blues and golds are featured in a variety of ways, from the large beds to the incredible furniture adorning the rooms. In what can at times be a chaotic city, the Leela was very much my own haven. Service though is the one commodity that cannot be purchased, it simply has to exist and throughout my experience at the Leela Palace staff were kind and generous with their time.
I like to be surprised when I travel, and for me at the Leela that started with their incredible rooftop pool. Often ranked as one of the best hotel infinity pools in the world, it’s an oasis of calm with sweeping views of the city. That vibrancy continues throughout to the rest of the property, most notably the over-the-top flower displays that seem to change daily. I later learned that 14,000 blooms are delivered every day, which is a fact that still shocks me to be honest. Although I was curious to explore the culinary side of Delhi away from the hotel, I did enjoy special moments at the Leela, especially at Jamavar, the signature Michelin Starred Indian restaurant. The design of the space is what struck me initially, celebrating the 16th century Jamavar shawls of Kashmir, the intrinsic paisley pattern is featured throughout the restaurant. The food is just as delicate, with tender slow cooked meats and the incredible spices and flavors that can only be found in India. It was one of the culinary highlights of my trip and well worth a visit, even if you aren’t staying at the Leela.
India has no shortage of great luxury properties, and one of those highlights in Delhi is the remarkable Leela Palace.