If you turn off on to Shaheed Bhagat Singh Bagh from Connaught Place, you come to a quiet lane. The gaudy cacophony of the market fades on nearing the newly refurbished The Connaught, like an oasis in a desert of concrete and stucco. While the hotel has now been taken over by the Taj Group (Indian Hotel Companies Limited) under its recently launched SeleQtions portfolio, it is quite unlike any Taj property you have likely been to; the only similarity being the inimitable service.
For rather than the restrained, formal elegance one normally associates with a Taj hotel, The Connaught is all about character. While its façade remains largely unchanged due to Delhi’s building regulations, there are still hints of this in the green enameling of the pool side and dining area; visible once you enter the wrought iron gates of the property.
Apart from the façade, the only sign of the previous occupants of the hotel are the two stone apsaras flanking the entrance, and that’s where this monochromatic reticence ends. From the striking reception in the airy lobby to the intricate tiling on the floor to the sanguine tiger sculpture sprawled against a wall... every detail, all in variegated shades of green, begs, nay demands a closer inspection.
The restaurant and bar, appositely named the Hub, acts as the anchor to the space, with the former opening out to the pool and al fresco dining area. The interiors are Renaissance meets Art Deco, with obviously Indian motifs, falling on the right side of retro. The first floor is devoted to conference rooms, of varying sizes, their eccentric tastefulness a sight for sore eyes after months of pixelated video meetings. And speaking of things we haven’t been to in months, let us now move to the hotel rooms, ensconced between the second floor and seventh floors.
Much like the rest of the hotel, the rooms are individualistic with customised artworks for each unit, with half of them looking out of the front of the hotel, on to the lush foliage that screens the hotel from the rest of dusty Delhi. The rooms on the back though, dear reader, that’s where it is. Since the hotel abuts the Shivaji Stadium, each back facing room has an unobstructed view of the main stadium grounds and the panorama gets more spectacular with every floor one ascends. No wonder then that the hotel’s best rooms are on the top floor.
Those who book a few of these rooms will also be given free access to a large turf-bound terrace space, your own personal eyrie from where you can watch the city spread out down below you, and be reminded that despite the pollution and often drab buildings, Delhi is one of the greenest metropolitans in, at least, the sub-continent. Coming back to the ground, we browse and sluice our way through The Hub’s menu. The 24/7 diner features the usual eclectic spread offered by five-star properties, ranging from Indian and Continental back to Oriental, presented in a contemporary style.
Pro tip: they have gol gappas, which are as delicious as the ones you currently cannot eat from the streets. That apart, we especially enjoyed the Chinese; Sichuan fish and steamed vegetables for the win. Trust us though, when we say, The Connaught is a feast for all senses.
In a nutshell
From the striking reception in the lobby to the tiling on the floor to the sanguine tiger sculpture sprawled against a wall... every detail, all in variegated shades of green, demands a closer inspection