Way back when, when I was a luxury tour operator based in London, we used to persuade our clients to slow travel down, take time, take and extra night, India after all, is overwhelming. But it was more than that, we were selling super high end holidays and people were spending a fortune on hotels and with a usual rushed tour, they just weren’t getting to appreciate them. Now, for the last 10 years, I’ve been all about the ‘experiences,’ I’ll get up at 0500 to try out a cycle ride/old city walk/hot air balloon safari/horse ride and then move onto a cookery demo, NGO meeting/ printing workshop. It’s all been about discovering what to do in a destination and I lost sight of the actual hotel stay. Fortunately, this year on three occasions I landed up in hotels, midway through exhausting trips and decided to just stay put and was reminded of exactly why I recommend these properties and the benefits of taking time out to relax and enjoy the facilities and try out their amazing in-house experiences!
Brunton Boat Yard, Cochin – an old old favourite. To start with, their beds are incredibly comfortable, perfect for a not as young as she used to be, traveller to catch up on some sleep. After a late, lazy south Indian breakfast, I headed back to my room just to sit on the balcony and read my book but ended up simply watching the world of this harbour, from giant tankers to cruise ships to small canoes with just one fisherman coming home after his day at sea. A light lunch was followed by an ayurvedic massage to ease out the tension of hectic travel in the old muscles and then an hour spent by the pool with a chilled beer being spied on by an inquisitive peacock. Dinner was my first ever Vindaloo and an early night, sinking back into their heavenly beds……
The Lodhi, Delhi – The concierge team at The Lodhi are the people who ensured I got to stay put an enjoy myself. After yet another late breakfast (I think I was trying to be good and chose the healthy option) I was going to have to nip out and collect various bits and pieces from Khan Market and beyond, but in mentioning this to them, their offer to take care of it all for me was gratefully received. That meant that I could enjoy the day. Having never stayed here before, I wasn’t sure what to expect and my swim got delayed as I became engrossed in their fascinating contemporary art collection which took me a couple of hours to negotiate. I few laps in the pool and a snack and then I was whisked off to the spa. They had told me that they had one of the best ayurvedic therapists in the country, but this was Delhi, right? I needn’t have been sceptical, not only was it a fantastic treatment, within 5 minutes, the tennis elbow I’d been plagued with for 7 months had vanished. Next stop a manicure and pedicure and I was not only feeling but starting to look human again. Being Delhi, friends then dropped by and we tested their cocktail list – the Cosmopolitans passed the test and had a light supper of specially adapted choices from the menu.
Bujera Fort, Udaipur – What I love about my job is the variety, from camping out in the desert with nomads to staying in Bujera Fort, just one fantastic contrast from last year. People often think that to stay in Udaipur, you have to be on the lake, but I’m not so convinced anymore. Having spent a few days lazing at Bujera, morning yoga, playing with the dogs, sauntering around the kitchen garden, chatting to other guests, enjoying the pool, I decided to venture into town a couple of times. I loved it, of course I did, Udaipur is one of the easiest of Rajasthan’s towns to negotiate, but then to retreat to the haven that is Bujera is a very welcome experience. Highly recommended.