The Roseate: A Blooming Joy

33090979
Image courtesy of Roseate Hotels & Resorts

Delhi’s NH8 doesn’t sound like an obvious location for an urban oasis, does it? But enter The Roseate’s eight-acre property and your opinion will change. Pass an austere looking guard, and the road opens up into an expansive entrance driveway, dotted with art installations and adorned with 650,000 individually cast brass leaves, by British designer John Bowmen. Let me just write that again. Six-hundred-and-fifty-thousand individually cast brass leaves. To say it’s quite an entrance would be an understatement.

33091365
Image courtesy of Roseate Hotels & Resorts

Designed by Khun Lek Bunnag, known for his grandiose creations, the architecture throughout The Roseate sets it apart from other hotels in the city. With everything on a slightly larger than life scale, you’ll feel a little like Alice in Wonderland as you traverse its undulating grounds and water bodies. Boasting Delhi’s longest pool, at 102 metres long it is more than many can sprint, let alone swim! The Pool View rooms include private outdoor areas and direct access to the pool – perfect for a morning dip. Other notable features include a rotating pendulum disc and The Tree of Life, also designed by John Bowmen, as well as a wall of stained-glass in the lobby.

33091947
Image courtesy of Roseate Hotels & Resorts
33116674
Image courtesy of Roseate Hotels & Resorts

Rooms are decorated in white and grey hues, focusing on open spaces and natural light. Totally modern, all of your gadgets can be controlled from an I-pad so you can open your blinds in the morning from the comfort of your own bed. No hard hotel beds here (seemingly the mattress of choice in India) they are sink-into with soft pillows and cloud-like duvets. There is a capacious bathtub, almost al-fresco with views outside, whilst the shower doubles as a steam room and guests will find not one, but two sinks, big enough to be a church font.

76719403
Image courtesy of Roseate Hotels & Resorts

A lot of effort has gone into the menu design. From all-day dining at Kiyan to dinners at Chi Ni, the Roseate has roped in some of Delhi’s highest-flying chefs. At the majestic Kiyan, flanked by a collonaded wall styled on the Elephanta caves, chef Nishant Choubey heads a dynamic team creating innovative fusion dishes. The menu changes every few months and as much as possible is sourced their organic farm, just a few kilometres away. I had the Organic Pomelo salad to start, which was the perfect blend of fresh and crisp with a soft sweetness from the tamarind dressing, followed by the vegetarian thali, a great introduction to North Indian cuisine for those fresh off the boat. For breakfast, there is an array of healthy and not-so-healthy dishes (I couldn’t help but opt for the trio of pancakes, not once but twice), as well as fresh pressed juices and crispy South Indian dosas. Try to make sure you have dinner at Chi Ni during your stay, for authentic Chinese flavours courtesy of chef Ban. Starting with blanched baby spinach in a sesame dressing for starter, we were taken on a culinary journey of wasabi shrimp, vegetable lettuce wrap, chicken Siu Mai, and soft and fluffy tofu bao.

33006982
Image courtesy of Roseate Hotels & Resorts

If you’re travelling with little ones, there is an excellent kids club, with virtual simulation technology, art walls, and so much more. Honestly, you’ll have to drag them out of there. For grown-ups, the Aheli spa, headed by Sushma Rai, is the perfect hideaway. Including signature massages and hammam treatments (the only place in Delhi you’ll find them), and using Ayurvedic Kama products, you could spend more than just a few hours in their capable hands. There is also a small but perfectly formed gym and yoga pavilion.

33091254
Image courtesy of Roseate Hotels & Resorts

Who’s it good for?

Design Junkies, Wellness Addicts, and those wanting to escape the city

For direct bookings click here.

Tijara Fort : The 19th Century Fortress, Hours From Delhi

2
Image Courtesy of Neemrana Hotels

Crawling through the vivacious village of Tijara, passing car mechanics, fruit stalls, carpenters and street vendors, I wondered if we’d taken a wrong turn? But as the traffic subsided, and settlements melted away into open road, the verdant Rajasthani countryside opens up ahead.

Located in Alwar, just 2-3 hours from Delhi and almost equidistant between the capital and Jaipur, Tijara Fort is the perfect spot for a weekend getaway, or to break up a long road trip. As you approach, the 19th-century fortress rises up from the ground like a volcano. Dominating the local landscape, it commands a sense of grandeur against a backdrop of rice paddy. A mix-and-match patchwork of agricultural themes. 

An arial view of Tijara Fort-Palace
Image courtesy of Neemrana Hotels

Its 63-rooms are spread across two buildings, the Mardana Mahal and the Rani Mahal, whilst the reception and dining hall are in the Hawa Mahal. The decor in the Mardana Mahal, in particular, is spectacular, with cavernous ceilings adorned by larger than life curtains and decorative Ikat tiles taking the places of dhurries. A beautiful space for an event. The spa is located in The Rani Mahal (the name given to the ladies’ quarters: makes sense) where traditional treatments and fragrant massages are on offer. If you like the keep fit there is an enormous swimming pool, great for a few lengths on a hot sunny afternoon. Alternatively, the hotel has seven manicured lawns and plenty of alcoves and yoga mats, so there is no shortage of spots to Surya Namaskar.

Anju Mahal in Rani Mahal wing
Anju Mahal Interior (Image courtesy of Neemrana Hotels)

The Rooms

Most of the rooms are of a good size, with separate lounge areas, though some of the fittings and furnishings could be spruced up. Surprising in a hotel that is only a few years old. Though the overall aesthetic is charming, classic Rajasthani charm with bright colours and statement furniture to match. Owner, Aman Nath, is close friends with some of India’s finest artists, and he has roped in many a famous name to add to the grandeur of the property. The Anjolie Mahal is particularly impressive, with an entire mural painted by the celebrated artist.

 

Anjolie Mahal
Anjolie Mahal Interior (Image Courtesy of Neemrana Hotels)

 

The Food

Generally averse to buffet meals, Tijara Fort’s culinary offerings came as a pleasant surprise. A daily changing menu of fresh salads, with plenty of Indian vegetarian options, followed by homemade ice-creams and baked tarts and pastries. A delicious broccoli soup was served with dinner accompanied by crusty bread rolls, perfect with a large chunk of butter. Breakfast was the usual selection of cereals, fresh fruits, eggs to order, as well as my favourite Indian breakfast: poha.

 

26
The Dining Hall (Image Courtesy of Neemrana Hotels)

 

For direct bookings click here.

 

 

Secret Lair Seclusion in Sleepy South Goa

The Cape Goa Beach
The virtually deserted beach. Image courtesy of The Cape Goa

As reviewed for i-escape.

Perched above a pristine curve of golden sand, there’s an air of Bond villain’s lair about The Cape Goa. Built into the side of a rocky cliff are 4 guest cottages, all with teak walls and rustic thatched roofs that blend into the surrounding palms. But step inside and you’ll find things are rather more indulgent: huge beds, spectacular indoor-outdoor bathrooms fronted by walls of glass, and private sun decks with alfresco hot tubs that gaze out over open ocean.

186561
Image courtesy of The Cape Goa

Brand-new in 2017 and designed squarely for romance and relaxation, The Cape offers a change in tempo from modern life. Think barefoot strolls along the beach, Ayurvedic massages on your deck, and evenings spent lingering over cocktails, seafood and spectacular sunsets in the open-sided restaurant. The town of Agonda is only 30 minutes away if you fancy boat trips and a bit of nightlife (scooters and taxis can be arranged), and some of Goa’s loveliest beaches are nearby, but really there’s little incentive to leave. We can think of few better places to steal away with someone special – and what’s more, it doesn’t cost the earth.

186550
It could be you! Image courtesy of The Cape Goa.

Rooms

Balinese in style, with thatched roofs and cavernous beamed ceilings, the four cottages are quietly luxurious. The furniture mostly consists of antique-style pieces in polished teak, but colour-pop walls, tiled floors and sliding glass doors prevent the interiors from feeling too dark. Beds are enormous, and you also get a sofa and daybed to lounge on; there’s even a TV with Netflix, though we doubt you’d choose this over the view. Bathrooms are huge, with swathes of exposed rock, pebble inlays, trailing plants, floor-to-ceiling windows (there are blinds to pull down if you want privacy!), rain showers, and sections open to the sky. But the star feature lies outside: a private sun deck, complete with loungers, a parasol, a sitting area and a sunken Jacuzzi tub.

186531
Image courtesy of The Cape Goa

The cottages are identical in looks and layout, but for ultimate seclusion and the best views I’d recommend 3 and 4, which are closest to the beach. Cottage 1 is nearer the restaurant, and noise from the kitchen can travel.

186543
Image courtesy of The Cape Goa

Eating

The breezy, open-sided restaurant is a lovely spot to while away the golden hours as afternoon slips into evening. The menu covers an extensive selection of southern and northern Indian cuisine, and there’s plenty of fresh seafood on offer. My Goan fish curry was a highlight, and the smoky vegetable tikkas were simple yet perfectly executed. There are also salads and sandwiches if you want something lighter for lunch – we liked the look of tofu and sesame, and blue cheese with rocket and onion marmalade. Service can be slow, but that just provides an excuse to work your way through the lengthy cocktail list while you wait.

186560
Image courtesy of The Cape Goa

 

Best time to go: October to March is the best time to visit Goa, with the most pleasant weather in December and January. This is also when the region is at its busiest, but The Cape, located in the sleepy south, isn’t affected by the crowds. June to September is the monsoon season, with high humidity and sudden downpours, but the resort stays open year-round and prices tend to be much lower during these months.

186551
Image courtesy of The Cape Goa

Top Tips: This is the perfect place to unwind and do very little, so bring plenty of books to work your way through on your lounger. We’d also recommend packing something a little sturdier than flip-flops for the descent down the steps to the beach, though the sand is powder-soft once you get there.

186663
Image courtesy of The Cape Goa

For direct bookings click here.

A Jaipur Gem: 28 Kothi

KothioutsideshotFINAL-866x572

As reviewed for i-escape:

Hidden down an unassuming lane in Jaipur’s residential Civil Lines district, 28 Kothi brings a new level of luxury to the guesthouse experience. A joint venture between Siddharth Kasliwal (co-owner of Gem Palace, India’s most glamorous jewellery business) and Abhishek Honawar (eminent Bombay chef), it opened its doors in early 2016 to instant acclaim. It was envisaged as a place for Kasliwal’s clients to stay that would be “as extraordinary as the jewels they come to Jaipur for”, and is filled with stunning objets d’art and eye-catching commissions.

28khoti2

With just five stylish rooms, a lush garden, a peaceful library and a bijou spa, the atmosphere is particularly special; intimate and welcoming, and ideal for solo travellers as well as couples. There’s no restaurant or formal menu; meals are made to order using farm-fresh vegetarian ingredients – you’ll breakfast on the terrace and dine under the stars at night. But most seductive of all is the peace here – it’s a true urban oasis. You’re more likely to hear the resonant call of a peacock than the thrum of traffic, yet Jaipur’s ‘Pink City’ and its numerous attractions are just a tuk-tuk ride away.

28-kothi-jaipur-india-library-xlarge

Interiors lovers will lust after designer Nur Kaoukji’s flawless rooms. Her passion for the organic percolates its way throughout the entire property, from the miniature Indian mural in the library to the palm prints and bespoke Rajasthani furnishings in the bedrooms. Each of the 5 is decorated in the colour palette of the gemstone that bears its name, and ornate beds have mirrored headboards worthy of a Maharani.

28-kothi-guesthouse-jaipur-0428-kothi-jaipur-india-suite

The largest suite, Sapphire, has a floor all to itself and doors leading out onto a private terrace; perfect for couples who want complete privacy. Topaz also has a private terrace – a welcome extra for a standard room – whilst the other standard Spinel has a lovely cushioned window seat. Suite Moonstone is the only room with a bathtub (a fabulous, deep-soaking affair), and Peridot is a great-sized single room that’s excellent value for long-stay guests or families with an older child.

28khoti428khoti3

Co-owned by culinary legend Abhishek Honawar, you’d expect the food here to be first-class – and by all accounts, it is. With an emphasis on the freshest food of the best quality, meals are strictly vegetarian with international flavours, market produce dictating the daily-changing menus. On balmy evenings, dining under the stars is a real treat. We love the sound of a chickpea and vegetable Moroccan stew served with warm herbed couscous, or a spicy Rajasthani thali with gluten-free chapatis and chilled cucumber raita.
28-kothi
Come morning, a continental or Indian breakfast is served on the terrace – try the Rajasthani version with green split-pea pancakes and an exotic fruit salad. Teas are sourced from Goa (marigold, saffron, lemon green tea), coffee is roasted in Delhi, and the Bhuira strawberry preserve and bitter orange marmalade are handmade in a local village. Provenance is paramount here. Reliable WiFi, bathrobes and air con are welcome extras, and toiletries by KAMA Ayurveda are a fragrant treat, with old soup ladles for soap dishes.

28-kothi-jaipur-india-lobby-one

Best time to go: October to early April, when it’s warm and dry, is the best time to visit. December, January and February can be cold in the mornings and evenings, though warm and sunny during the daytime. March and April are fairly hot. In May and June it gets humid and the heat can become intense and uncomfortable. The monsoon breaks in July and lasts until September. January sees the city play host to the Jaipur Literary Festival and bookworms from around the world descend.

Top Tips: For the best insider’s guide, bring a copy of Fiona Caulfield’s Love Jaipur, which is filled with local tips such as the splendid Saturday Hatwara flea market; whilst fashionistas can create amazing souvenirs at the Anokhi Museum of Handprinting, where you can block-print your own shirt!

For direct bookings click here.

 

Nomadic Luxury in Nagaland: The Hornbill Festival

Nomadic Luxury in Nagaland: The Hornbill Festival

Piece published in SUITCASE magazine.

My Bell 412 helicopter searched for the helipad, a spherical silhouette on a patchwork of multicoloured terraced houses, slung out on a ground of undulating forest. I felt like Elizabeth Bowen, a lone female entering the Land of the Head Hunters – albeit by much more modern means. In these far-flung reaches of eastern India lies Nagaland, a region shrouded in mist, mystery and misconception. Every December, amidst a cacophony of colour and sound, the state’s 16 tribes put their differences aside and take part in the annual Hornbill Festival.

Heard of it? Probably not… but in India, the Naga’s notoriety precedes them. Despite government initiatives to increase footfall, only a trickle of tourists travel to this corner of the country every year. But the wheels of change are in motion. The 12-hour journey from Delhi has been slashed thanks to the introduction of daily flights to Dimapur and The Ultimate Travelling Camp, India’s most ingenious ‘hotel’ has embarked upon a pioneering venture to introduce luxury travel to the region.

I was not fortunate enough to enjoy such luxuries as direct flights but the private helicopter, courtesy of TUTC’s Kohima Camp, made up for it. Operational for just two weeks, from November 29 to December 12, the team has perfected the concept of nomadic luxury. Brainchild of General Deepak Raj, of former Indian Army fame and Dhun Cordo, wedding planner to the stars, this unlikely duo combined military precision with artistic flare to create the first camp of its kind. Nestled between the lush Dzüku Valleys in the village of Kigwema, it is just a 15-minute drive from the festival ground; when Modi is not in town.

Tribal Dance Khaki Tent

Having missed the opening ceremony (the Prime Minister does not do security by halves nor do I skip breakfast) Keja, my guide, updated me on the afternoon’s activities: a pork fat eating contest, a pork fat kicking contest and a pole, lathered in pork fat, climbing contest. So that myth was true: Naga’s love their pork. Lard-based activities aside, attendees can also look forward to traditional song and dance performances and peruse the tribal wares for obligatory souvenirs.

While we waited for Modi to complete his presidential duties, Keja took me to his tribe’s morung. Traditionally the physical and metaphorical centre of village life, a morung is a place for men to share stories, farming tips and the odd glass of rice beer. These days women are allowed in too and I was treated to a tankard of the stuff. I was beginning to enjoy myself as much as the locals, who’d been boozing since the AM.

“How about a traditional Angami lunch?” suggested Keja, “to accompany your traditional ‘aferitip’? They’ve got everything”. He was right, the Angami’s really did have everything on the menu: cows intestines in a blood gravy, fermented bean curry and tushichi which, for those of you that are not familiar with, is dog.

Stomach distinctly turned, I passed at the opportunity to take part in the infamous (and potentially fatal) chilli-eating contest. But for purveyors of peculiar foods or those in search of the unusual, Nagaland and the Hornbill Festival is the assault on the senses that many have been looking for. Be gone the Golden Triangle, this is India as you have never seen it before.

hornbill-festival-03

Keeping It Cool in Coorg: The Scotland of India

Keeping It Cool in Coorg: The Scotland of India

This day could not get any worse, I mused mid-way through my ‘wild-wee’. I was meant to be lounging by the infinity pool in the mid-day heat of the Karnatakan sun; instead I was squatting in a field with a pair of bovine beauties giving me the eye. Our car had broken down, five hours into our six hour drive; or, as I am still convinced had run out of petrol.

825     Making friends on the road

In a Howard Beale moment of “I’m not going to take this anymore!” R and I had booked two tickets to GetMeTheHellOuttaHere, located some 1400 miles from the torturous Delhi summer. Less than 12 hours later we arrived in the ‘Garden City’ of India, Bangalore, before driving onwards to Coorg. Famed for its beautiful people and aromatic coffee (two of my favourite things) and its temperate climate it seemed like the perfect place to escape to. Until the break down. Long weekend slowly slipping away both the repair party and our emergency hotel pick up arrived at the same time. Naturally. We waved a quick goodbye to our new four-legged friends before the convoy set off for the Vivanta by Taj, Coorg.

844    Pool with a view

Now, I am not one of those people who never leaves the resort but at the Taj’s property in Coorg you just don’t feel you can. With a list of activities from nature walks, cycling and even pottery (yeah, I made an ashtray!) it really is a impossible to leave the beautiful surroundings. In fact that is what the property is all about – the views. Built into a hillcrest every area, from the reception, to the pool, to the lift(!) makes the most of its stunning vistas.

834    Reception with a view

841   Everything with a view   

And there is the spa. Not content with yoga by the poolside every morning we made more trips than necessary. Taj properties are known for their excellent JIVA spas and with an on sight Ayruvedic doctor and this for an entrance, the one at Coorg is certainly one of the best.

830    Hoping this is not the disabled entrance

In fact the only time we did leave the property was on our way to the airport to buy coffee, for which the area is famous. About 3 kilos worth, enough to satiate even a caffeine addict like my self’s habit. Unfortunately there were no beautiful men to be purchased. In fact, one almost unwinds too much after a weekend spent here, resulting in us (accidentally on purpose) missing our flight and spending an extra night. Now, if that is not testament to a property’s perfection then I don’t know what is.

Vana: A Modern Approach to an Ancient Art

Vana: A Modern Approach to an Ancient Art

As you take the turning off the main Mussoorie Road towards the Vana, Malsi Estate you leave behind with it the distractions of every day life. Car horns are replaced by bird call as the fragrant smell of the neighbouring sal forest stimulates the senses. Only a month old Vana is but a baby and located just round the corner from Ananda, India’s most luxurious yoga retreat, it has some serious competition. However Vana’s emphasis is not on luxury, it is on wellbeing, meaning “physical, mental, emotional and spiritual”. Whether you treat it as a modern day ashram or (as they put it) a utopian “microcosm of everyday life”, you will leave feeling refreshed and revitalised and ready for whatever life has to throw at you.

roomwithaview livingroominaforest

Upon arrival you will have a one-to-one analysis of what your personal goals are and a tailored wellness programme will be devised for the duration of your stay, incorporating everything from your treatments to your meals. There are two restaurants at Vana: Salana, offering cuisine based on wellness principles and Anayu, offering Indian cuisine based on the principles of ayurveda. All of the produce is organic, locally sourced and new menu is devised seasonally. And with all of its chefs being specially trained in wellness cooking no-one will be left feeling as though they are eating rabbit food! Nurture yourself from the inside-out whilst bringing the outside in with a panoramic view of the surrounding forests, which all rooms benefit from.

 notyouraveragethali

Set amidst the sprawling 21 acre Malsi Estate, the property itself looks like a work of modern art and the architecture, with its emphasis on straight lines and earthy palettes, blends in with the local surroundings. Their ethos of simple, stripped back luxury is apparent in every aspect of life at Vana, from the living spaces to the treatments.

Treatments on offer: Guests can benefit from Ayurvedic, Tibetan and Natural healing techniques as well as regular yoga classes, aqua therapy, fitness improvement and full spa facilities. Treatments cater for anything from mindfulness to weight loss meaning there really is something for everyone! The Signature Vana massage is a must!

Detox specials: Until August 2014 book between 3-5 nights and receive a complimentary nights stay.

Pricing: Starts from R32,000 a night with a minimum three night stay.

Vana is the place for any serious yogi (with a few rupees to spare) to head this 2014!