The Imperial is an independent museum hotel that was conceptualised by Edwin Lutyens’ associate, architect Blomfield in 1934. Lutyens is synonymous with the design of colonial Delhi of the British Raj. The hotel was inaugurated by Lord Willingdon in 1936 and is currently managed and owned by Sardar Hardev Singh Akoi and Sardar Jasdev Singh Akoi, grandsons of the late Sardar Bahadur Ranjit Singh who built the hotel.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
The three-storey heritage hotel is known for its rich heritage. Walking into The Imperial is like stepping into another era. Turbaned waiters welcome you with traditional “namastes”, as you enter a world of art and antiquity. Original artwork by Thomas and William Daniells, William Simpson and William Hodges adorn the walls, while Burma teak furniture on Italian marble floors reflect a classic opulence. The staff at check in amiably says “welcome home to The Imperial”, and that’s exactly what a stay at this hotel feels like. Every corner of the hotel resonates legacies from colonial India. The Imperial’s art-tour is highly recommended for those who wish to delve into Indian history.
WHERE IS IT?
In the heart of central Delhi, lies The Imperial. Previously known as Queen’s Way, the hotel is located in Janpath and is close to the very commercial Connaught Place. The airport is a 45-minute drive and Janpath’s metro station is walking distance.
A very old-school lift takes you up to the upper storeys of The Imperial. The large corridors are lined with monochrome picture-frames and classic mementos. The room categories are Deco rooms (25 sqm), the Imperial rooms (29 sqm), Heritage rooms (34 sqm), Grand Heritage rooms (45 sqm), Heritage suites (51 sqm), Deco suites (58 sqm), Viceroy suite (69 sqm), Emily Eden suite (69 sqm), Hodges suite (69 sqm), Lutyen’s suite (74 sqm) and the Royal Imperial suite (278 sqm). Tea/coffee maker, two bottles of mineral water, daily newspaper, fruit platter are standard room amenities. On request, the hotel offers a shoe shine facility, dental kits, shaving kits and an ironing board to all guests. With its marble flooring and bathroom complementing the Burma teak furniture, the Heritage room that I stayed in felt palatial. The room is spacious and designed in a minimal but aesthetic sensibility. It’s difficult not to slip into deep slumber on its luxurious bed, with linen from Porthault, France. A vintage desk with convenient charging points faces the bed, next to the bathroom that’s separated by a large walk-in closet. The time-honoured feel of the hotel effortlessly blends into its rooms as well.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
The restaurants at The Imperial hold a long-standing credibility amongst aficionados and the upper social-circle of Delhi and India. Be it Patiala Peg (lounge), lined with photographs of the Maharaja of Patiala from the Second World War, or 1911 restaurant, bedecked with antiquities from the year 1911, the outlets at The Imperial echo of the legends from British India. Spice Route (Thai cuisine), that’s divided into nine sections, each depicting a part of life’s journey, was a superior culinary experience. The other restaurants are San Gimignano (Tuscan), 1911 restaurant, Nostalgia at 1911 (brasserie), Daniell’s Tavern (Indian), The Atrium (high-tea cafe) and La Baguette (patisserie).
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES
The Imperial’s ballroom (464 sqm) has entertained Delhi’s elite class for seven decades. It’s also the preferred venue for high-profile weddings and corporate ceremonies. Equipped with teleconferencing facilities, iMac computers, scanning, faxing, printing and copying facilities, the One Imperial Place is befitting for business travellers. The Emily Eden & Hodges Room (61 sqm) can accommodate up to 50 guests for private corporate events.
The spa and salon at The Imperial is a holistic space for spa rituals and cosmetic treatments. The hotel also has a Health & Racquet Club that holds sessions for yoga and Pilates alongside a gym. An outdoor swimming pool and spa-bath are ideal for travellers looking to unwind from the bustle of the capital.
A trip to erstwhile India read only about in history textbooks. Classic and unparalleled.
PRICE: Internet rates for a midweek stay start in an Imperial room in March starts at ₹18,000
CONTACT: The Imperial, Janpath Lane, Connaught Place, New Delhi, 110001; tel +91-11-23341234; theimperialindia.com