March 2022 | 774 words | 3-minute read
Tucked away in a quiet nook of New Delhi’s bustling business district, The Connaught, a SeleQtions hotel of the Indian Hotels Company Ltd, displays a quintessential charm that is evident from the dynamic mix of contrasts in its décor — vibrant art, colour splashes in furnishings, splendid interplay of lights in its spaces and bold designs in the patterned flooring. All these elements put together lend a cosy and welcoming ambience to the hotel, considered a cultural hub of the capital.
On arrival, I was greeted by a very young team led by Sonali Chauhan, the hotel’s general manager, and Robin Rajput, the sales manager, who took me on a guided tour of the property. Sonali, who seemed to have read the surprised expression on my face, stated, “We are a young team at The Connaught. The average age of our staff is 35, and we cater to a young clientele who enjoy hanging out either at our bar and lounge for the famous Connaught sundowners or at the poolside with alfresco dining — an ideal setting for a romantic candlelight dinner.”
Inspired by Georgian architecture
The hotel is inspired by the Georgian architecture style. As I stepped into the elevator for a sneak peek of the rooms, I couldn’t help but admire the ceramic floor tiles in geometric designs in the elevator, corridors, and foyer. Robin confirmed, “The hotel has been designed by the globally renowned Swedish designer Christian Lundwall. He decided to do away with carpets, replacing them with patterned tiles in interesting designs.”
The 104 aesthetically designed rooms overlook either the quaint and quiet by-lanes of Connaught Place or the grand Shivaji Stadium, which was once home to the Indian women’s hockey team. The rooms while retaining their art deco look have been embellished with contemporary styling, fixtures, and furnishings.
The hotel’s event rooms — each named after precious gems like Emerald, Topaz, Garnet and Opal — are located in the upper lobby and equipped with the latest audio-visual setup, making them ideal venues to host meetings and conferences. A private terrace on this floor can host up to 80 people for a cocktail party.
Indian delights and global flavours
By now, all the walking had made me ravenously hungry, so I decided to head to the talk-of-the-town gourmet destination — The Hub. The menu boasts of a variety of dishes both Indian and international to satiate every palate.
Chef Aman, the hotel’s culinary experience manager, explained how the comprehensive menu catered to the most discerning palates. “The ingredients for the dishes are sourced from their place of origin, to retain the authentic flavours in every preparation; and seasonal dishes are introduced so that guests can relish the best cuisine under one roof.”
I selected dishes from the chef’s recommendations and my favourites. Sipping on a refreshing mocktail called ‘The Connaught Road’, as I waited for the main course to arrive, I noticed how the hotel was following strict Covid safety protocols. Despite every other table marked unserviceable, the restaurant was full. Most guests seemed to know the staff by name, which meant it was a popular joint among locals.
Starting my meal with fresh avocado salad, I followed it with malaibroccoli florets that were marinated in thick cream, and then had a plate of sarson mahi tikkas, fillets of sea bass marinated with freshly ground mustard and barbecued in a tandoor.
The purani dilli ki chatkeeli chaat was truly up to my expectations, imparting a tangy-spicy taste. The dahi ke kebab dipped in a spicy green chutney melted in the mouth, while the succulent burra kebabs were as good if not better than the ones prepared in shahi Mughal kitchens. For a flavour of the Orient, I ordered prawn chilli pepper that pleased my tastebuds with its spicy hints.
For the main course, I indulged in rich pindi chole and fluffed up bhatura along with a penne arrabiata cooked to perfection al dente in a tangy tomato sauce. The Burmese khao suey, with its delicately spiced chicken in coconut gravy, provided the perfect finish to an ideal lunch. To end on a sweet note, I had kesari rasmalai and honey noodles that were served on a plate with ‘The Hub’ sprinkled on top in cocoa powder.
I didn’t realise how time had flown and that it was early evening. As the sun went down, I moved to the poolside for a cup of refreshing mint tea — an enjoyable finale to a sumptuous repast. Sitting outdoors, I watched the staff setting up the tables for the dinner service at The Hub, the only restaurant at The Connaught, New Delhi, and the capital’s culinary destination of repute.