“India is going to be extraordinary,” said a travel writing friend who knows a thing or two about amazing places. And yet nothing could have prepared me for The Leela Palace, a hotel that prides itself on meeting luxury with grace.
Bypassing Louts at the Gate
When we arrived at Delhi Airport late one evening without hotel reservations, I wasn’t too concerned. I would do what I usually do when traveling to a new city: compare accommodations on TripAdvisor, and book on Expedia.
What I hadn’t taken into account was: a) how exhausted I might be after a 14-hour flight; and b) how vulnerable I might feel as the sole adult accompanying children in a Byzantine city.
I still used TripAdvisor to compare hotels, and Expedia to find the best prices and availability. But instead of booking online, I waited until after passing Customs to go to the Tourism kiosk for advice.
One phone call, and a few minutes later I was met by a Leela staff member who whisked us past the hordes of opportunistic taxi drivers to an air-conditioned limousine, chilled ice water, and the dawning realization that we were safe.
You Get More Than a Room at the Leela
Our sanctuary was one in every sense of the word. Located in New Delhi’s diplomatic enclave, an iron gate, scanner, retracting barricade, and armed guards are just a few of The Leela’s security measures.
We were greeted with bindis, floral necklaces, and warm smiles. And instead of the usual check in line, an escort took us directly to our lovely room. Photos don’t do justice to the beauty of our hotel room: intricate mirrors, inlaid wood furniture, golden silk drapes, and a marble bathroom that could easily fit most Manhattan apartments.
A floor butler ensures that your every need is met promptly. And so much is provided – at no additional charge.
Bathroom amenities extend beyond the usual gamut to include: comb, loofa, bath salts, dental kit, shaving kit, emery board, and the biggest, thickest towels. Two kinds of robes (and slippers) are provided – short and silky or long and plush.
Room service is available on demand, but complimentary snacks – fruit, chocolates, and bottled water in the room and even a chilled drinks picnic basket by the pool – ensured that our meal expenses were minimal.
Feasting at The Leela
Even though we didn’t get around to trying most of the on-site restaurants, we ate well at The Leela. Executive upgrade included airport shuttles and complimentary breakfast buffet. The upgrade would have been worth it just for the breakfast.
Served in The Qube, a shining glass box encased in hammered metals and lush gardens, the range and selection of menu items was impressive. Honeycomb stand, prosciutto sliced on demand, dozens of breads and pastries, and a long line of covered pots offering regional and international favorites.
Upma, Masala Scrambled Eggs, and Creamy Almond Polenta were just a sample of the delights gracing my plate one morning.
Even more astonishing was that Leela staff still offered to make anything that we couldn’t find on display.
Above and Beyond
In retrospect, that was not surprising at all. My guess is that hiring qualifications at The Leela include genuine kindness. Every single person I met offered a warm smile and friendly greeting, but the Front Desk Manager and Concierge staff went above and beyond to make my visit to India a pleasure – even beyond my stay at The Leela.
While staying at the hotel, all my day trips – whether to the Taj Mahal or to a local camera shop – were arranged by Concierge staff. Not only did they provide me with information on my various options, they ensured that a taxi driver would not only take me to the destination – but would actually walk me to the door, if need be.
And when it came time for me to leave The Leela, they made the arrangements – car, taxi, train, plane, and hotel – for travel throughout India.
Return Is Assured
There’s no question that I will stay at The Leela Palace when I return to New Delhi. And not just because my Nepal luggage was left in their storage lockers. The Leela delivered luxury, grace, and a level of service that no amount of money could ever buy. Personally, I’m deeply appreciative of what was done to ensure that our India adventure commenced on a positive note.
The Leela Palace Hotel
India with Kids:
- Why travel to India and Nepal?
- Traveling to India
- Flight to India – Luxury in the Economy Aisle
- Indian Culture On Display at National Museum Delhi
- The Road to Agra
- The Taj Mahal
“You cannot travel the path until you have become the path itself.” Gautam Buddha (from a bookmark provided by The Leela Palace)