Luxury Explorer Review

5-Star Hotel Review

The Oberoi, New Delhi

India

Sweeping views over the lush greens of the Delhi Golf Club

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The Oberoi, New Delhi
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The Oberoi, New Delhi

Location

Kaka Nagar, New Delhi

Travel Information

Indira Gandhi airport - 40 mins (17km)

Top Tips

The new metro makes it easy to get around this sprawling metropolis, and in air conditioned luxury, avoiding the busy traffic

5-Star X-Factors

Sweeping views of Delhi Golf Course from one side, and the World Heritage Site of Humayun's Tomb from the other

Whetting the appetite

The Oberoi, New Delhi has recently reopened following a full refurbishment. Luxury Explorer will be visiting New Delhi and the new Oberoi soon to update you on its renovation. Until then, please get a feeling for this wonderful city and hotel from Virginia's review below.  

I was told that my first sight of riotously colourful Delhi would be a shock to my delicate English sensibilities. But even though I can't help thinking that all 15 million Delhiites must have picked exactly the same day to explore the city's vast array of monuments and market stalls, it was for me the perfect introduction to the Subcontinent.

Despite its desperate beggars on the hunt for rupees, its cricket-mad, excitable boys and its hysterically impatient drivers, Delhi has a vitality that is peculiarly and beautifully Asian. And if you want to play at being a 'memsahib,' then Delhi is the place to do it.

You may stand, as I did, about a foot taller than everyone else or that's how it felt but the relentless hand-pressing by shy Indian matrons and the warm smiles from curious, gap-toothed children give you just a hint of how it must have felt to be a "white skin" here in the days of the Raj.

In safe hands

Arriving at Mahatma Ghandi Airport in temperatures of 39 degrees Celcius, I was met by a charming hotel chauffeur in pristine white salwar kameez and crimson turban who smoothly relieved me of my case and hat and switched the air conditioning to max.

Just a short drive away from the city centre, the Oberoi New Delhi proved to be astonishing in two respects. Determinedly low-rise in a city that dislikes skyscrapers, all rooms have views of parkland and the soothing green turf of a premier golf course, rather than the cityscape I had expected.

The hotel is a popular stop-off for Americans and British on the first leg of the so-called Golden Triangle tour of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur considered an excellent starting point for visitors new to India and the Oberoi management understandably pay great attention to detail.

The 'Himalayan' bottled water in my suite is ice-cold and plentiful and my request for more pillows for the softest, queen-sized bed is met within minutes by a tiny man bearing four of them: all brand new goose-down. Seconds later, there is a complimentary sandwich on delicately crusty bread and an array of tiny jars of English sauces and pickles to make me feel at home.

Street life

Old Delhi with its markets and mosques proves more absorbing than New Delhi's English-inspired architecture and familiar street names (Connaught Place, West End) and I persuade Dhiraj, my guide, to ditch the car and the official itinerary so we can see more of the city's legendary street life.

Much against his better judgement, I sampled a vegetable thali at one of the cleaner-looking stalls next to the main railway station which was spicily delicious. A group of hesitant Europeans followed my example leaving the proprietor, Gita, beaming from ear to ear. The presentation is basic and you need to eat with your fingers, but it's authentic and freshly-made, and there were no after-effects on this English stomach.

I later found out that the Indian government is seeking to outlaw Delhi street food for fear that its hygiene standards will offend the growing tide of Western visitors, but the locals tell me that any ban will be fiercely resisted.

The bridge between Old and New Delhi is a No-Man's-Land between poverty and affluence, but for one man a 70-year-old snake charmer called Prithvi there is business to be had in both quarters as the sun finally goes down. The snake seemed a bit tired as it obligingly uncoiled itself out of the basket and hissed in my direction, but I was captivated by the flute accompaniment and it all seemed very fitting for my first day in India.

Retiring in style

Back at the hotel, after a refreshing swim in a warm, empty pool that is shaded by a soothing colonnade of coconut palms, I retired to the hotel's Threesixty° restaurant, where a custom-built sushi station, a yakitori grill and a tandoor compete to bring the assembled diners the best of world-class cuisine.

I chose surmai tava griddled king fish accompanied by roasted prawns served on a huge golden plate, along with six or so dipping sauces. The centre of the plate was obscured by a fragrant pile of pilau rice.

As I dived into a tiny bowl of wafer-thin chapatis and sipped a frosty Cobra beer, the manager introduced himself. "Delhi is only the appetiser for a Westerner," he explained, savouring, in typical Indian fashion, the beauty of a good metaphor. "But India is a vast country and for you, there will be many more courses to come."

Virginia Matthews



Luxury Explorer
Luxury Explorer

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