If the Dusit Devarana had opened at the precise same location about three decades ago it would have rightly earned the title of a resort—away from the city and laid out over a sprawling verdant stretch. But, given the rampant urban infestation to both sides of it, the property today, opening long after its inception, is termed an urban-resort, a much-feared term for none have managed to play this part to success. Yet.
I allowed myself to be transported to this world for a brief sojourn purely out of curiosity; a hedonistic hunger to see just how the people of Delhi can look forward to being pampered in the New Year, and beyond.
From the time you drive in, you notice the stress on form over function. The porch is a portico with 6.5 lakh plus flowers in metal, the largest installation I have seen to date since the Eiffel tower. From thereon as you proceed the hotel is an architectural marvel, one that draws on influences as diverse as Thai and the Ajanta and Ellora caves (although I thought that the latter one very Salvador Dali-esque), all punctuated with soothing Terrazzo, reflective pools, pillarless-juxtaposed-domes, and an unending play of lights and shadows, one that extends even into the stillness of the dark night. Of course the rooms are lavishly comfortable, the service, impeccable, and technologically unparalleled with iPads to control everything from lights and blinds down to the TV, internet, and even opening the door!
But as has already been learnt from urban-resorts past, it takes more than a central location with Zen aesthetics and a few gizmos to woo the regular city slicker; and the Devarana seems to have that covered: it’s their food and beverage offering. The Iah bar is done up like a fantasy boudoir, where arches meet corners in a symphony of sombre shades, and the music somehow seamlessly oscillates between a pianist and a DJ-console. Best yet, it is accessible to outsiders without having to circumnavigate the property so makes for the shortest line between a tired soul and his tipple.
And finally the restaurant, Kiyan, one that purveys a fine-dining style table d’hôte fixed menu format over a la carte, and manages to stay focused on flavours, textures, and presentations without having an overdose of dishes on the menu. Over my three meals there, I had dedicated Thai, Western, and Indian fare and each time the experience was superlative. Chef Nishant hates the word ‘fusion’ (almost as much as he hates the nomenclature ‘coffee shop’) so focuses on keeping flavours pure and the presentation, regal. Special mention for the lobster-kichdi, the Atlantic cod with miso glaze, and the butter-poached quail with sweet Chorizo and Parma chip. Even the palate cleansers were no afterthought and the spiced buttermilk was one of the best I have tried in a hotel in a long while. The desserts were the kind that you will end up finishing no matter how much you gorged on the mains. The rhubarb cheesecake was brilliant but my favourite was the signature toffee coffee pudding.
This is a first Devarana for the Dusit group, a moniker they have only used for their spas so far. This is also the first luxury hotel to bring Kai, an upscale London-based Michelin-starred contemporary Chinese fine dining (read: beyond dim sums) to the city, one that will open doors soon. The success, if I may so prophesies, will depend not just on the comfort of their rooms but also on their culinary quotient. Rest, time will tell. For now, if you are curious, then a certain degree of decadence is just a pleasant drive away. email@example.com