Leela has two luxury hotels in the Delhi area, Leela Ambience Gurgaon, which hosts the annual Hotel Investment Forum India HIFI, and the opulent Leela Palace New Delhi, in the diplomatic area of Chankyapuri. The gal wanted to go back there, to be reminded of what super-luxury, through Indian eyes, is all about. There, waiting, was Louis Sailer, the hotel’s GM who some years ago – the other side of the world from India – hosted a Veuve Clicquot dinner on a sandbar that was only in existence for 90 minutes before the tide came back in.
Luxury at Leela Palace New Delhi is the two-floor high lobby with ceiling-high columns, eight real-look trees and two gigantic Murano chandeliers. Think oodles of gleaming marble and sparkle and lots of flowers. There, before the main mass stirred from their oh-so-comfortable beds, flower arrangers tidied and replaced single rosebuds on a flower ball, just as they do every morning. Not a single petal must look past its best. At the rear of the main building the garden around a floodlit eight-foot high gold Devi sculpture is manicured to perfection.
Room 931, a 1,600 sq ft Royal Suite, has cut-glass toothmugs, and ultra-plush carpets, and a private terrace, with ten-foot walls, with a sunken stone jacuzzi big enough for all my Delhi friends, at once. This room gives entrance to the ninth floor Club lounge, a polished-wood sanctuary ideal for business meetings if you do not want to be seen. Downstairs, in that lobby, is gathering place for those who do want to be seen, and to see (MEGU restaurant is also a great place for celebrity-watching).
But this time we dined in the all-day restaurant, Qube, which no-one in their right minds would dare to call a ‘coffee shop’. No, all-day, all-style dining in an epitomal luxury hotel requires strategic architecture and design, in this case a glass cube with gold ‘mushrooms’ hanging from the ceiling. And it needs spectacular food, cooked here at visible kitchens, and service. At breakfast they remembered my specific idiosyncracies from a year back. Luxury is bespoke.