Luxury Hotels

INDIA – 4

Taj is an ultra-luxury brand and, as such, it needs a brand ambassador. Yesterday, Valentine’s Day, IHCL (Taj) MD/CEO Puneet Chhatwal jubilantly announced a partnership with Kumar Sahib Dr. Lakshyaraj Singh Ji Mewar of Udaipur, the owner of Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur.

Girlahead has such happy memories of that lake-set hotel (and her suite’s stained glass windows, and its ceiling-hung swing). Similarly, when it comes to Taj Mahal New Delhi, known locally as Taj Mansingh, suite 801, above, is absolutely gorgeous. Taj had been operating the 13-floor hotel since it opened in 1978 but when the lease ran out New Delhi Municipal Council put it up for closed auction. That was a nail-biting day. Separately, in their own hotels, five interested parties, all operating hotels, bid at maximum one-minute intervals.  It was whittled down to two and at the end of an eight-hour day Taj won.

It was like letting a lion out of a cage. Led by IHCL’s boss Puneet Chhatwal, Taj Mansingh was given the green light for dozens of upgrades that had been put on hold. Two floors were converted to fully-equipped longterm rent, which took hotel capacoty down from 296 to 213 keys. Chambers Members Club, which has 700 members, added a second floor plus a cigar room with humidor. The Taj Club, for premium hotel guests, was more than doubled in size and staff were given gear straight from The Mikado, blue and white striped blazers, open necks with cravats, white yachting trousers and corespondent shoes. The Precor gym moved into unused back office space, which enabled the spa to triple in size and upgrade. A Japanese restaurant gave way to a wine-tasting room with 35 wines by the glass…. and so on.

David Edwards designed nearly all the new look. Suite 801, the Rambagh Suite, is indeed a gem.  As you can see below a colour palette of taupe, soft blue and gold is rigorously followed. Arabesque gold stencils on some walls and the ceilings are exact in symmetrical minutiae. Serious-size carpets in the living room, predominantly walnut, and bedroom, primarily soft blue, are a joy to the eye…. if only ALL hotel suites were as tasteful as this, below….