Top A luxury Hindustan Ambassador, one of a fleet at Aman
New Delhi. Above A typical Aman in-room breakfast.
INTRIGUING when a brand best known for luxurious, exotic
and remote resort properties goes against its own model and stakes
out all-new territory. The recently-opened Aman New Delhi is the
companys first real metropolitan retreat, and a beautiful
translation to behold.
Discriminating travellers familiar with the brand
will be gratified to learn that Amans signature elegance has
been successfully applied to an urban locale. These are without
question the best level of rooms available in Delhi, enhanced by
outstanding service. Amans address on the Lodhi Road is both
central and discreet, resting comfortably on a spacious six-acre
site. Its a new standard and a stunning alternative to the
ordinary Indian city hotel, not a sterilized experience, as most
commodified high-end lodging has become.
You might compare the architectural style to
that of work by Louis Khan, reflecting a stark, modern minimalism.
But there are soft echoes of Indonesia everywhere, referencing Amans
geographic origins and signature low-key style. This makes a visit
most pleasurable and hospitable. Still, the dynamic host nations
heart is always present: building materials locally sourced, including
vast surfaces of stone quarried in India, Khareda on the floors,
and Gangapur garlanding the walls; artifacts and motifs recollecting
Mughal palaces; plunge pools attached to every room on each of eight
tranquil floors. It is a property worth visiting, simply to experience
the lofty airiness of the graceful public spaces and witness the
inventive use of water, especially striking in the 50 m subterranean
pool which faces a covered colonnade, open to the sky. Dark woods
accented by soothing fabrics make the rooms feel more like comfortable
The Aman service proposition continues to delight,
a corporate practice which allows general managers a degree of freedom
in applying their own personality as gracious host to each property.
While interactions are efficient and polite, no hint of tension
can be found within the thoughtful team at work here. The repeat
guest is remembered, known, babied, humoured. A second welcome drink
magically appears next to an artful arrangement of pomegranates
in the room. Breakfast arrives a few minutes early, alleviating
the travellers greatest anxiety. An assortment of chocolates
impulsively requested is prepared to order by the kitchen, dramatically
packaged, then quietly delivered to the suite while the guest is
away. And the lobby does not bustle, it presides and receives comfortably.
Two restaurants peacefully coexist on the ground level. The Naoki
Restaurant, set back from the street, features a FrenchJapanese
fusion bill of fare. Dual dining rooms are connected by a bar configuration
where you might sample eel sushi, a miso soup with duck and spices,
or baby New Zealand lamb chops in a cinnamon-laced red wine sauce.
Facing the front side of the property, the three-level Lodhi restaurant
serves tapas both traditional and innovative, under the supervision
of skilled Spanish chefs. A dazzling degustation menu is recommended:
five courses, five wines, with an opulent dessert finale. Both these
high-end restaurants are excellent locations for business entertaining
in Delhi, open to the public.
Œnophiles will rejoice as well at the wine
cellar, curated by remarkable sommelier Kavita Faiella. The list
she has assembled demonstrates a deep specialist knowledge, vast
selection and great names, many little known except to the serious
collector. Wine tastings are held on premises every second Thursday
of the month. Bear in mind that alcohol is heavily taxed in India,
and expect to pay upwards of four times European or US
prices to indulge your love of the grape.
Aman New Delhis other public facility offerings
include the spa and high-tech gym, called the Club, and some lovely
retail spaces with high end merchandise. This is ﬁlled out by three
squash courts and three man-made ﬁbre tennis courts.
Sufﬁce it to say that the Aman is an ideal destination,
especially after navigating a day of Delhis notoriously treacherous
traffic. You will take some comfort in a ﬂeet of pristine silvergrey
Ambassadors, with expert drivers standing ready to shuttle guests
Amans 40 suites, ﬁve per ﬂoor, all with plunge pool, are
augmented by 28 Lodhi suites: two and three bedrooms with pools.
This property is ideally suited to the high-end corporate traveller,
chairman, CEO, or the habitual luxury
traveller. A incomparable refuge, and one not to be missed.
Stanley Moss is travel editor of Lucire.
The dynamic host nations heart is always present:
building materials locally sourced, including vast surfaces of stone
quarried in India, Khareda on the ﬂoors, and Gangapur garlanding
the walls; artifacts and motifs recollecting Mughal palaces
Above, from top An unexpected second welcome
drink, chilled pomegranate and lemon juice. The bathtub in the spa.
Line of chaises along covered colonnade facing the 50 m pool. Naoki
Restaurant bar. Below French Japanese fusion baby lamb chops.
The chef and New Zealand baby lamb chops in red wine and cinnamon
Left, from top Minimalist reception plaza. View of plunge
pool showing architectural details and stonework. A view of the
centre of the property.