INTRODUCTION TO THE LODHI
City hotels typically follow a tried-and-tested formula: a large (and/or tall) building offering a large variety and range of rooms/views, a plethora of restaurants a range of cuisines (and maybe even a club floor), a good gym, a pool and some spa facilities. Then boutique hotels came about and took away some of the frills, while focusing on service. Then there’s The Lodhi, breaking the mold for every city hotel with its tiny room count, humongous rooms and facilities that should be the envy of almost any city hotel anywhere in the world.
Date of stay: October 2016 with several visits and stays prior to that
Room: Lodhi Room
Reviewed by: Chinmoy Lad
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PHOTOS AND VIDEOS by CHINMOYLAD
WHAT I LOVED
- Location. Set in the heart of Delhi near the Lodi Gardens, and only a short drive away from Connaught Place, the immediate surrounds clearly place you just outside Delhi’s hustle and bustle, and The Lodhi is a further secluded getaway within this maddening chaos – an afternoon by the pool is disturbed only by the chirping of the birds.
- Design. The monolithic and daunting look of the exterior, originally built in 1965 as a government building, is not exactly appealing to the eye, but the expert designer Kerry Hill has, quite frankly, done an incredible job making the most of the worn brick building with an overhaul in 2009 when it first opened as the Aman New Delhi. The sharp edges are complemented by intricate carvings and symmetrical Indian-patterned window screens (jali screens) that play in and with the light, large entrance halls lined with monolithic pillars that offer grand entrances, and soothing matching colours that provide a sense of calm that is an Aman hallmark. The highlight is the 50-metre-long lap pool that sits at the centre of the property, flanked by tennis courts and lawns. Following Aman’s cessation of management of the property, the Lodhi went through another refurbishment, lightening the colours with brighter pillows and patterned carpeting, perhaps for the worse, but the overall ambiance is still that of general calm. The design isn’t for everyone. It lacks the charm of some of New Delhi’s other hotels. But after a few nights traversing northern India featuring an assault on the sensory organs, The Lodhi’s spatial generosity, simplicity in its design and its hypnotising geometric structural patterns are much appreciated and welcomed.
- Rooms. Delhi’s most spacious rooms by far, perhaps some of the largest city hotel rooms in the world, starting at 1,350 sq ft. The rooms are designed almost like a resort room, with a large outdoor terrace (how useful this is in overpolluted Delhi is your own guess, and use it accordingly at your own risk) and a large private plunge pool. Inside, there’s a bath, separate open shower and twin vanities, while most of the rooms have an open plan bedroom + lounge area, with the rooms starting at the Junior Suite having a separate lounging space.
- Private pools and terrace. It’s not often you’ll find a major city that has rooms (lead-in category, at that) with private plunge pools! Particularly during the summer months when the temperature often breaks past 40-degrees Celsius, the cooling private plunge pool comes in very hand. Update: Since our stay, The Lodhi seems to have segregated the rooms even further, with two new room categories that start at 550 sq ft and 750 sq ft that do not have plunge pools.
- Gym and spa. One of the most expansive city hotel gyms I’ve had the pleasure to see (but being lazy, not try out), and also one of the most soothing spas I’ve experienced, in a similarly calm and verdant setting that belies the hotel’s location.
- Art. Its an ‘artsy’ hotel. Beyond just the boutique supporting local artists by stocking locally made produce, local artwork from up and coming artists can be found throughout the hotel – and there are several smaller exhibitions frequently on display.
POINTS TO NOTE
- Private member’s club. To those that can afford it, the hotel’s facilities are also open as a private member’s club. Guests staying at the hotel won’t experience the difference much if enjoying the facilities during the late morning or afternoon, but once the evening settles in and Delhi’s offices have shut, the pool gets busy, the gym gets busy, and the spa gets busy. This is sadly very undesirable as it takes away from the otherwise excellent ambiance of The Lodhi. The building also has private residences for sale.
- Food. There are plenty of food options here, but they really vary. Our breakfast at Elan was forgettable on both days, but the continental fare we had for lunch was considerably better (at least passable). On another occassion, I had a wonderfully light but beautifully textured and flavourful salad followed by one of the best pannacottas I’ve had the pleasure to put in my mouth. The Pool Cafe serves delectable small servings which I’ve enjoyed on many an occasion, even when not staying at The Lodhi. Renowned restaurant Indian Accent, serving an inventive approach to Indian cuisine has won many an award (World’s Best List 2015, 2016, 2017) but we did not try it.
- Service. The service isn’t bad here (save for one hiccup), it’s adequate – but you do get the sense that, apart from a few former Aman staff still lingering, it lacks the warmth and polish found in some of the city’s other major hotels, in particular at Taj and Oberoi.
- Our one hiccup was rather frustrating too – it was our final day at the hotel and our flight was at an ungodly hour around midnight later that night (we had been generously granted a very late check-out, and were scheduled to have dinner before departing). With a long stay across Rajasthan at the Aman tented camp and the secluded Aman near Ajabgarh, we had had enough of very early mornings and just wanted a lie in. Cue a door knock at 7:30am delivering the morning tea that we had never asked for. It was clearly an error that was rectified (rather annoyingly, by the same staff coming back and knocking again to clear the trays we had never asked to be left in our room) and in the grand scheme of things, not a major issue, but there is a time and a place to knock early, and it’s not when guests have just come in from 4:00am wake up calls to make morning safaris and other excursions.
- Housekeeping. Perhaps when someone says this is a former Aman, despite it no longer being run by the Aman team, expectations are still set to a certain degree. I perhaps wouldn’t expect housekeeping to do our room with a 12noon checkout on the final morning, but when we’re checking out after 4pm, I’d expect housekeeping to have done up the room during breakfast. Ours was left as it was, before we went for breakfast, and again when we went for lunch.
- The Lodhi is a 40-minute ride from Indira Gandhi International Airport, but never discount Delhi’s infamous traffic, and leave well in advance if you want to make your flight.
HOTEL FACT SHEET
- LOCATION: New Delhi, India
- OPENED: 2009
- HOTEL ROOMS: 31
- RESIDENCE VILLAS: Available privately
- RATES FROM: USD 250/night++
Rates are only an approximation and subject to change and availability
OFFICIAL HOTEL PHOTOS
© The Lodhi