If India had to be symbolised by just one place, it would have to be the capital city of Delhi, City of Djinns, and 25 million people. Magical, mysterious, mayhemic, it is the embodiment of everything that is amazing about India. And Yonder is your ideal guide to the best hotels in Delhi.
Old Delhi, the ancient heart of the capital, is a tiny 6sq km enclave huddled around the Red Fort comprising of ramshackled narrow streets alive with rickshaws and men and women going about their daily business, usually in dhotis and colourful saris. Rich in history, like Rome it bears the hallmarks of the many empires that have possessed it over the centuries.
Greater Delhi is a vast sprawling area of huge contrasts, comprising new fewer than 12 distinct cities, including New Delhi, the new capital of the British Raj and designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. In this teeming metropolis, you will encounter everything from medieval fortifications and Mughal mausoleums, to pulsating bazaars, grand colonial architecture and enormous malls.
Don’t be a lightweight
Delhi is home to a wealthy modern urban elite who live in style alongside the wide boulevards of the pristine embassy district where the foreign residents happily socialise with one another. But it is also of course home to the innumerable people who keep the city’s massive cogs turning. Meeting them, you will usually encounter broad smiles and an eagerness to talk about life in their extraordinary city.
Lightweight tourists make a big mistake in Delhi. They look briefly at the main tourist spots, tussle ineffectively with the touts, and then escape to calmer locations. True travellers, of course, know that Delhi rewards those who linger to explore the lesser known corners.
We love the frenetic energy that keeps this massive city moving. It’s a tremendously exciting place to be. Sure, you can hide away in some exceptional hotels, both ultra-modern and historic, but why would you when India’s pulsating heart is on your doorstep?
Get out, and enjoy this unique experience. The city’s metro is cheap and efficient. But as you are travelling with Yonder, enjoying luxury hotels in Delhi and your every comfort is catered for, perhaps you would prefer to get around in your air-conditioned car, leaving your driver to negotiate the throngs.
If you only do three things in Delhi…
- Take a deep breath and dive into Chandni Chowk in the shadows of the Red Fort. It’s one of the oldest and busiest markets in Delhi. This is the real India.
- Cram in an actioned packed day of Delhi’s must-see sights. They are a snapshot on an historic country.
- Take a train from one of Delhi’s main stations. There’s no better way to see Rajasthan unfold than by gazing out from a railway carriage, refreshed by the chai-wallah passing through with an urn of hot, sweet tea.
Culture hunters have a field day here. The sites are huge, literally. But let’s start with Raj Ghat, the small and humble spot beside the Yamuna River that serves as a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi. Come on the right day and you can walk up the ramps to the viewing point overlooking the eternal flame that marks the spot of Gandhi’s cremation in half an hour. On the wrong day, there will be thousands of Indians queuing for many hours for the briefest glimpse.
There are other magnificent sites too: Humayun’s tomb, commissioned in 1569 – with its perfectly symmetrical gardens and the precursor of the Taj Mahal – is located in the centre of Delhi and of course there is a stunning collection of colonial era buildings dating from the heydays of the British Raj with the India Gate war memorial and the government buildings, designed by Edwin Lutyens.
But for those who want an all-encompassing experience, including haggling on anything from beautifully embroidered bed throws to antique furniture or eating the best cuisine in the whole of India, Delhi is the place to be.
And if you still have the energy to mingle with the young hip Delhi crowd, the district of Hauz-Khas will keep you on your feet until the small hours.
Out and about
Indian have two great obsessions: cricket and Bollywood. Whilst, Mumbai claim to be home to both, Delhi isn’t far behind. If you like the sound of willow on leather, you’ll find the atmosphere at an Indian Premier League Twenty Twenty match like nothing you have experienced before. And speaking of new experiences, a visit to one of the city’s many luxury cinemas to watch a Bollywood movie is one of those slightly leftfield experiences that will stay with you.
Delhi is known as the green city and you’ll soon see it is really is covered in parks, trees and wide boulevards. But if you’re too tired to leave the comfort of your car and dip into the hot, slightly chaotic, outdoors to go walking, there are plenty of other pursuits.
Famous for its shopping, Delhi offers both the refined variety inside huge malls and the vernacular street side stalls. Both have their merits and with a bit of persistence you’ll be able to find anything from beautifully intricate hand-painted tiles to designer handbags (both originals and fake varieties!). Haggling runs through the veins of the city, so be prepared to negotiate hard when buying from street stalls.
Eating and Drinking
Where to start? Delhi has everything. Many of the best restaurants are found in the five-star hotels around the city. Aside from the ubiquitous Indian food, there is everything from French fine dining to superb New York style bakeries in which the best bagels and club sandwiches are a masterpiece.
Many of the luxury hotels in Delhi will tug on your heart strings, or perhaps your taste buds, with their tradition of serving High Tea. Perfectly cut finger sandwiches, glorious scones with homemade jams and tea strained through silver strainers come as standard. Depending on when you hit Delhi, a break from the aromas of curry and a few familiar flavours might just be the order of the day.
Eating in a luxury hotel in Delhi isn’t to everyone’s taste and if you are more a a street food enthusiast, and have the courage, there are endless options, although you will be confined to indian cuisine. And when we talk about street food, it doesn’t necessarily have to be from a vendor with a cart; there are loads of local restuarants in which stunningly delicious curries are served up on simple metal plates whilst you sit out on plastic chairs, with the honking of horns outside.
Thoughts on a postcard
Old Delhi is like nowhere else in the world. Bullock carts compete with rickshaws for right of way, men sit on street corners drinking masala chai, women carry loads on their heads and traders frantically sell their wares. It is mesmerising.
OUR FAVOURITE PLACESAndaman and Nicobar Islands / Ranthambore National Park / Jaipur / Jodhpur / Udaipur / Agra / Delhi / Chennai / Ajabgarh / Nagaur / Narlai /
Delhi : The map
Our Escapologists only recommend hand-picked, delectable properties we have sampled and savoured ourselves. We judge all our hotels by their excellence, the sheer hedonistic pleasures they have to offer. And we reject a lot that don’t meet our exacting standards.
Some of our selections are classics, with reputations recognised the world over. Others are discoveries: boutique havens where hospitality, relaxation and fine cuisine have been distilled into a rare art form. You’ll find a few options for the budget conscious too, where Yonder’s principles are still to the fore. And for those who just need an airport stopover on their way to paradise, there’s one or two convenience choices, too.
We provide in-depth descriptions of every property, based upon our own experiences there, along with our unique Yonder rating and icons that will give you further insights into what’s on offer. We even tell you the types of clientele you might soon be rubbing shoulders with!
Now that’s choosing a hotel Yonder style!
Here at Yonder we have devised some exciting itineraries that will illustrate just what amazing journeys you could enjoy through Yonder’s exciting far-away destinations.
Of course every one of Yonder’s clients is a unique individual and we only create personalised itineraries that reflect those personal desires and wishes. So your Yonder journey will be as individual as you are. But to help you envisage just what amazing adventures might be possible, we have devised sample itineraries that we are confident will inspire you. You only have to pick up the phone to explore how any one of these ideas might be adapted to create your own perfect journey Yonder.
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