Lakshman Sagar: A Kaleidoscopic Escape

As reviewed for The Hotel Guru:

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Inspired by the kaleidoscopic colours of Indian this 19th century former hunting lodge is not your average rural Rajasthani stay. Twelve cottages (each with their own private plunge pool) are dotted around a 32 acres and a man made reservoir. The sound of peacocks resonates throughout the grounds from sunrise til sunset, interrupted only by the chattering of a lively flock of parakeets. A totally unspoilt, rural idyll, staying true to Sewara hospitality’s mantra Lakshman Sagar is as gentle to the environment as it is on the eye. And what a visual feast it is! Decorated in pop palettes rooms are a riot in greens, pinks, yellows and oranges; juxtaposed against natural dried mud walls. Repurposed furnishings such as a traditional coal iron for a soap dish and baby’s crib for a wash basket add a novel touch. Though the pièce de résistance has got to be the zenana, formerly the women’s quarters. Decorated in pink and purple shades, mosaic floors and trickling fountains. The rooftop affords 360 views of the property and the best seat in the house.

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There is an Ayurvedic spa-cum-tree house run by Amul, possessing an encyclopaedic knowledge of herbology. He even takes yoga classes. Or simply spend an afternoon recumbent by that pool. Carved into the landscape, out of a giant rock, it has been named one of Conde Nast Traveller’s favourite pools in India.

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Inspired by the ‘Slow Food Movement’ all cuisine is either grown in the property’s expansive vegetable garden or locally sourced. Serving fresh, traditional Rajasthani dishes these simple meals are a blessing – compared to the heavy, oil laden affair on offer in most hotels. That said, flavours can get a little repetitive, but staff do their best to meet requests. A totally enchanting stay.

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Great for: Couples will love the private cottages and plunge pools with a view. Ideal for a few nights of rural idyll between the bustling cities of Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur.

Best time to go: October – March. Expect a chill in the evening between December and January.

For direct bookings click here.

Colonial Charm at The Oberoi Grand, Kolkata

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Image courtesy of Oberoi Hotels & Resorts
As reviewed for The Hotel Guru:

Known as the “Grande Dame of Calcutta” this iconic hotel, dating back to the 1880’s, is located in what was the heart of British India. Aside from a few mod-cons, little seems to have changed. Colonial charm still perforates every inch of this property and the at times ‘Fawlty Towers’ service only adds to the poeticism.

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Image courtesy of Oberoi Hotels & Resorts

From the moment you enter its gilded gates (complete with fleet of bright yellow Ambassador taxis awaiting outside) guests time-travel to a bygone era. Having been greeted by a team of staff at the door, complete with white gloves and shiny gold buttons, you will be whisked through reception, with its grandiose flower arrangements and ornate chandeliers. Not to mention that grand piano.

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Image courtesy of Oberoi Hotels & Resorts

Some might find the décor a little tired (the carpets could do with replacing) but overall this adds to the charm of this relic of a hotel. With classic green marble or wood-clad bathrooms, polished wood furnishings, artwork depicting a historic Calcutta and antique light and socket fittings the hotel evokes pangs of nostalgia at every turn.

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Image courtesy of Oberoi Hotels & Resorts

Complimentary Forest Essentials toiletries are included as standard and the best rooms feature pool views. Breakfast is not included in the room rate and at hefty price per head I would say it’s not worth the average fare – especially with so many great dining options on nearby Park Street. Baan Thai restaurant is worth investigating, however a G&T in one of the Peacock chairs by the pool is an absolute must.

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Image courtesy of Oberoi Hotels & Resorts

Oberoi’s spas are always worth a visit and this is no exception. Classic treatment rooms, a steam room and sauna plus a slightly old fashioned gym. A historic stay right in the heart of Kolkata.

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Image courtesy of Oberoi Hotels & Resorts

10 Signs You’ve Become Culturally a Delhi-walla

10 Signs You’ve Become Culturally a Delhi-walla

Piece published on Matador Network:

Having spent the last year and a half living in Delhi I’ve come to the realisation that… I’ve become culturally a Delhi-walla. You may not have been born and bred here, but if you’re guilty of the following, you too have become a Delhi-walla:

  1. You refer to everyone (bar your actual family) by the title of close relatives: Aunty, Uncle, didi (sister), bhaiya (brother).
  1. And you have an ongoing love/hate with relationship with your landlord (aka Aunty/Uncle) who in turn refers to you only as beta.
  1. You no longer eat “curry”. No, you eat dal makhani, chole bhature and palak paneer, washed down with chai, not tea.
  1. You can (and do) get everything delivered straight to your door. I’m talking alcohol, cigarettes, aspirin and a single bar of chocolate. Oh and some ice. And a sponge. Milk.
  1. You have a drawer full of ‘visiting cards’ for every sort of service professional you may at some point in your life require: doctor, carpenter, taxi driver, massage therapist, tailor, electrician, removal man, ironing man, bamboo man; the list goes on.
  1. You know you shouldn’t, but you do, eat roadside food at almost every dhaba.
  1. And Jugaad has become so much more than just your favourite Hindi word. It is a philosophy and a solution to almost every problem.
  1. You’ve mastered the Indian head wobble: an aqueous head motion with no accurate translation; merely an ambiguous affirmation that you have said something.
  1. Weddings are no longer a boring affair. They are an almost week long matrimonial marathon of wardrobe changes, buffets big enough to feed an army, attended by 1000 of your closest friends and family.
  1. You find yourself speaking “Hinglish” in an attempt to go native. Example:

“Have you reached?”

“Actually, I will take some time: ‘office time’ traffic”

“Well I’m glad we didn’t pre-pone!”

“I’m 5 minutes away, only”

“Do one thing, call and cancel”

  1. In fact once you have become culturally a Delhi-walla, almost nothing, bar the city’s dodgy wiring, will shock you. Even three generations and the family goat cruising down the NH8 on a scooty.

It’s just Delhi: it’s like that only.