The Imperial, New Delhi
Just blocks from Connaught Place, this tasteful colonial theme park and 1936 Art Deco icon is as central as it gets. Built at the arrogant height of the Raj, it is soaked with the ambience of what writer Ranjana Sengupta calls “the whole tea-on-the-club-lawns and bugles-at-sunset world of Delhi in the 1930s”—an apt description for a pleasantly coddling yet vaguely unnerving time warp. It starts with the remarkable art collection: hundreds of historic lithographs, paintings, and sketches depict colonial-era and “native” life customs. The anachronism continues in the clubby 1911 lounge, all fan palms and cane chairs; in the stalwart Patiala Peg pub, smelling of single malts and entitlement; and in the Imperial’s impeccably clipped lawns, fit for a coronation or a spot of croquet. The service is not only confident but actually capable; and the 231 rooms and 43 suites offer a tidy blend of historicism (in the Raj-style trimmings) and functionality (in the up-to-the-minute technology). The grounds are well worth an afternoon visit even if you’re not staying here.
Room to Book: Take your pick: an exterior-facing room for natural light, or an interior room for quiet.
Insider Tip: The hotel’s jewelry shop, tucked away off the parking lot, has a tiny but well-edited selection, focusing on semiprecious stones, silver, and Indian-favored yellow gold.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.