Overlooking the inner garden, the two balconies of the top floor suite were perfect for sipping champagne in the morning but at sunset he preferred a more iconic location – the poolside rooftop of the Glenburn Penthouse (image, above). While the original Glenburn Tea Estate is hidden in the hills above Darjeeling, among tea fields and forest, its owners have opened their first city outpost in Kolkata and they are sticking to their philosophy of keeping it small.
Escaping from the madding crowds, the Sybaritic Single booked a holiday in the Himalayas. Getting there, however, meant a stopover in Kolkata, one of India’s most underrated cities, with its appalling traffic, a moody monsoon and the glorious Oberoi, the grand old dame of hotels in north-east India. Opened in 1888, this luxury hotel is as much part of historic City of Joy as Mother Theresa.
The Sybaritic Single doesn’t recall staying at a place which felt ‘that’ old – and while the fragile crystal chandeliers could do with some polishing, the smelly antique carpets would probably never survive a proper deep cleaning. Very much like the rest of the city, today the hotel is picturesquely decaying. One can imagine that refurbishing the hotel of such scale would be an absolute nightmare and cost a fortune so it seems like everyone quietly agreed to just let it be.
The discreet residence boasts an even better location than the Oberoi and a more impressive attention to detail in its nine suites (three with direct views of Victoria Memorial) with Versailles parquet flooring, fine carpets, vintage fans, hand-embroidered bedsheets with the signature tea print and bespoke ‘Hindoostan’ wallpaper straight from Paris. Naturally, the tea at the hotel is truly exceptional – one can spend hours sipping it in the grand living room.
While many hotels claim to make the Sybaritic Single feel at home, few do it as successfully as the Glenburn Penthouse. Not that he is planning to return to Kolkata in the near future, but he wouldn’t mind skipping the Oberoi and staying at the Glenburn insead.