In Delhi, I had the splendid opportunity to stay at not one, but two of the city’s historic grand hotels.
The first, was, of course, Hotel Imperial (today’s The Imperial, New Delhi), Delhi’s modern and luxurious hotel establishment, the equivalent of the Raffles Hotel in the Indian capital.
Just south of Connaught Place on Queensway (today’s Janpath), The Imperial was opened in 1936, in an Art Deco style – in terms of architecture, it is the contemporary of the Connemara Hotel in Madras (Chennai), built in 1937 in an Art Deco style.
It has, of course, hosted its share of heads of state, royalty, celebrities and writers in its time; and it is undisputedly, one of the most atmospheric hotels in the city, whatwith its splendid collection of historic furniture and art, displayed in the endless corridors and public spaces.
It is conveniently located in the centre of New Delhi, and has marvellously nostalgic bars and restaurants in which one can ensconce one’s self and lose one’s self for hours on end.
The other grand hotel is the equally historic, and somewhat older Maiden’s Hotel Delhi. Established in 1902 in its present location, and carrying the original name of the Metropolitan Hotel.
It was the grand hotel predating Hotel Imperial, receiving a Royal Warrant of Appointment to the British Monarch (as its luggage label attests), alongside another grand hotel that will feature later in this Grand Tour – Faletti’s Hotel in Lahore.
Unfortunately, being situated in Civil Lines, the former headquarters of the colonial establishment before Delhi was declared the new capital, it was somewhat eclipsed by The Imperial when the headquarters of the colonial government moved south to the newly built New Delhi.
Today, the hotel is a quaint reminder of a time when Civil Lines was the centre of colonial society. It is not easy to get to, and thus, not quite the best option in terms of convenient accommodation.
It does provide, however, a somewhat charming (if a little more basic – if we use The Imperial as a benchmark) sojourn.
The Imperial, New Delhi
Maiden’s Hotel, Delhi
Next stop on the Grand Tour – Agra.