What is it like staying in the world’s top luxury hotel (according to the World Travel Awards, that is, but has its director Graham Cooke ever been to The Oberoi Gurgaon, New Delhi Capital Region?). Never mind, the gal has, on your behalf.
The smallest of the 187 rooms here is 620 sq ft. I am in 6120, the presidential suite, a staggering 4,000 sq ft. With a bevy of chicly uniformed flunkies, I go through the suite’s double doors and look straight at a colour photo of myself, topped by the exact letterhead of www.girlahead.com.
It is of chocolate, and I hope that after I leave it will be ceremonially buried rather than, in almost carnivore mode, consumed… I look around my new home. Enter, with kitchen to your left and a half-bath to your right, to the salon, with full-wall windows to left and right; go on, second bedroom to your left and ‘study’ (no ‘office’ here) on the right.
In the study, turn left to the master bathroom, and left again to large walk-in closet, and through this to a personal gym, with a Technogym runner and a full set of weights. Go back through the closet, turn right to the master bathroom.
From here, go out to the private terrace, which has a 60-foot pool, wide enough for two catwalk models to swim side by side. This whole outside area is cantilevered out from the top of the six-floor building.
Can luxury be outrageous, if that is the word that fits? The arrival here certainly is, but in a 100-percent approval rating. The hotel’s BMW leaves Delhi airport and 20 minutes later turns off a typically-Indian dusty street, and pauses for hotel security.
This gives enough time to admire a pair of two-floor shiny steel and glass boxes, which will be retail, with the hotel behind, at the far end of a 500 by 300 ft reflecting pool, guarded, as it were, by the C-shaped building. At night, six fire torches blaze from the centre of the pool.
To enter the hotel itself, and its fifth floor lobby, you turn right and drive up a steep incline that curves around the forested outside of the building. The lobby entrance is a stone theatre, with more fire torches atop tall columns.
The lobby itself is a tennis court-sized glass box, with some ceiling-high reflecting stainless steel columns. There is some colour, in the form of deep red carpets (Biki Oberoi’s favourite colour), and chairs and flowers, and the bindi spot put on my forehead at arrival.
But where is the fabulous outrageous? Look out from the lobby, down at the reflecting pool, and to the right is a wedge-shaped vertical green wall, the world’s largest (12,000 sq ft) living walls, of thousands of plants.
At the base, ground level, are signs of the Super Shopping down there, Bottega Veneto, Burberry, Canali, Jimmy Choo and so on, and Bastien Gonzalez for one’s feet.
Peter Nagy runs a Nature Morte art gallery, and there is a pamper-the-tastebuds hotel patisserie and deli, with 30 wines by the glass.
Luxury is having perfect figs, pomegranates and strawberries in a bright green bowl with a proper fruit knife rather than ‘a blunt instrument’.
Luxury is a telephone notepad that is held in a leather folder with scarlet stitching that matches the folder’s interior, which also has a decent, thick, pen. Light switches everywhere are just that, switches, and clearly labelled. Luxury, to the gal, is simplicity.
Luxury is a 24-hour super-spa, run by a charming Balinese, Vini, who smiles as she does all the necessary. She says 20 percent of all the spa’s business is at night (many flights leave and arrive, or arrive and leave, in the early hours).
And how can this luxury hotel surpass on service? Well, there are well over three staff per room but they are pretty good at not falling over each other.
I never managed successfully to get away from my lovely female butler, Monica – she always somehow found out where I was, and she would wait for me patiently, like a Labrador, while I battled away on an elliptical in the main gym. During my 24-hour stay I have never have to open my door myself as someone miraculously,
Aladdin’s Lamp-like, appears the moment I am fiddling with my key. My laundry was returned in a wicker basket. Nothing unique in that, but inside the basket was a linen cloth cut to fit and fold over exactly, and my running socks, now with neat tissue liners, were wrapped in a paper band.
Can it also surpass on food? Well that is another story, to come tomorrow.