Thursday, 30 January 2020

Staycation | Here is My Experience of Checking-In to a Lovely Hotel in Aerocity

STAYCATION
This trend of holidaying within your own city by checking-in to a fancy hotel has been around for a while, but since the real joy of travel for me lies in exploring new destinations and experiencing the charm of different cities, as well as countries, I had never opted for a staycation… until recently. Last weekend, my family and I checked-in to Andaz Delhi and came back feeling like we were away on a holiday!

To begin with, the kids’ excitement rubbed off on me. The process of packing, even for a one-nighter, got us in holiday mode. Not only is it absolutely stress-free, there’s zero tension of carrying excess baggage! So, when my little girl took out a bunch of board games to carry along, instead of having our usual tug-o-war of what to carry and what to leave behind, I packed them in with a smile. The next morning we all got up and got ready comfortably since there was no hurry to catch a flight or anything. We just loaded up the car, cranked up the music and off we went for our very first staycation.

Beautiful Installations. 
Andaz Delhi prides itself on its art collection. Must get a tour of the
property just for the art. 

ANDAZ DELHI
Despite being a modern hotel ‘Made in India’ is the central philosophy of Andaz Delhi. One enters Andaz Delhi through the Kashmiri Gate, an iconic symbol connecting Old and New Delhi. Here it is represented in a seven-layered papier-mâché installation hanging above the main entrance, symbolizing the seven ancient cities of Delhi. Outside, the hotel fleet consists of vibrant-coloured Ambassadors and snazzy Jaguars – both Indian-owned brands.  

The Barrier Free Lounge

Their ‘barrier free environment’ means they have a lounge instead of a lobby. It’s fun to hangout in the Lounge since it’s littered with lovely art and installation pieces. The community table is a great place to meet people and strike up a conversation over a cup of tea or coffee at that is served there complimentary 24-hours, along with some nibbles and candy for kids. 

LOCATION
One of the highlights of staying at Andaz Delhi is its location. Aerocity is easily the most buzzing and vibrant part of New Delhi. It is an international-style hospitality district with worldclass infrastructure that offers quick access to the airport. Additionally, its location is central enough to provide easy approach for people from Delhi as well as Gurgaon. While there is a huge choice of hotels to suit varied price brackets for both business as well as leisure travellers, the many restaurants and bars offer plenty of choice within these hotels and as standalone establishments.  Within the last few months, Worldmark has come up as a swanky destination comprising offices and commercial space on the higher floors and high-end retail and F&B outlets on the lower floors. The two towers, Worldmark 1 and Worldmark 2, stand tall opposite each other, but are connected via a prettified underground walkway. From fine-dine options to foodcourt outlets there is literally something to cater to every tastebud. While it is great to be able to walk from Andaz to Worldmark to catch the vibe, the hotel itself lends a lovely view of the high-rises on one side and the airport runway on the other. 

Our room, with the view of the runway.

ROOMS
This brings me to the most exciting part of my staycation. I have an affinity for ‘rooms with a view’, this usually means either the sea or a beautiful hillside. Here, our room had a view of the runway. Not only the kids, even I was surprisingly fascinated with all the take offs and landings. It reminded me of a time, decades ago, when we used to drive all the way to the airport, Jumbo Point, to see planes flying low, almost overhead.

Each of the guest rooms features a unique curated piece of art by Rajeev Sethi. The hotel offers 401 rooms including suites, thus Andaz Delhi has put together a collector’s book entitled 401 Reasons to Fall in Love with Delhi. Written by well-known travel writer Fiona Caulfield the reasons include the city’s celebrated iconic monuments to its forgotten rituals and lesser-known places that are new even to the locals of the city. It is worth buying – depending on your interests, you may take your pick from Delhi’s Building Heritage, Taste of Delhi, Creative Delhi, Delhi Celebrates, Cultural Delhi, Sporting Delhi, Delhi Shops, New Delhi Architecture, Delhi Devotion, Delhi on the Move, Natural Delhi and Iconic Delhi. Each room is dedicated to one of the reasons from the book which you’ll find lying open to the corresponding page on a coffee table. The art piece also highlights that particular reason albeit in a contemporary way. 

BARS AND RESTAURANTS
The hotel offers a good choice of bars and restaurants that attract walk-ins from Delhi and Gurgaon as well. Juniper is India’s first gin bar that serves 35 varieties of home infused gins. Just to have some fun, they have also created a Delhi Sapphire, to play on the light-hearted rivalry between Delhi and Bombay (Bombay Sapphire being a famous gin brand). AnnaMaya is the all-day dining on the lines of a European-style foodhall where most dishes incorporate some local, artisanal produce like ancient Indian grains that are still grown in the hills of north India or burratta from a cheese maker from a farm near Delhi or olive oil from Rajasthan, and of course specially procured organic veggies and so on.

There's Plenty of Choice of Drinking and Dining.

Many of the local producers are proudly named on the menu to give them recognition and some of their products can also be bought at AnnaMaya at prices that are only nominally higher than the MRP to also give them more business. You’ll thus find a range of natural millets, organic honey, flavoured salts and sugar as well as crockery, copper glasses, glass bottles and other qwirky bric a brac that are stocked up on various shelves all over the restaurant. The Hong Kong Club a multi-level Cantonese restaurant and evening destination with a bar, club and lounge.  Mixologist Agnieszka Rozenska is brilliant behind the bar and a pleasure to chat with. Of Polish origin and popularly known as Agni, this globetrotter likes to get to know her guests and happily talks about her experiences in India along with sharing the nuances of making perfectly balanced cocktails. The Sunday brunch at The Hong Kong Club is particularly popular and makes for a great day out with the family. Since customisation and artisanal products are the highlight throughtout the hotel, the spa too features an Apothecary Blending Bar where you can custom-make your scrubs and infused oils according to your preference and requirement. I will come back to experience this one since this weekend was all about spending time with the kids.

IN A NUTSHELL
I have come to believe that a staycation is a great idea, especially if the hotel is well located and offers a great choice of dining and activities for you and your family.




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