A night in the maharajah suite at the Leela Palace comes with a complimentary chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce.
A night in the maharajah suite at the Leela Palace comes with a complimentary chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce.

A spectacular hideout in Lutyens' Delhi



The welcome

The lobby is sumptuous, with high ceilings, chandeliers, gilt-edged mirrors and an abundance of flowers. Silver artefacts of Garuda, the mythical bird-like creature, stand near the entrance, and the sofas and chairs are beautifully upholstered. All visitors are escorted to their rooms for check-in, but club-level guests and groups are welcomed in the lobby with a traditional red tilak on the forehead and a jasmine garland. Check-in in my room was fairly quick and a refreshing welcome drink of seasonal fruit juice was offered. There were chocolates and fruits left in my room every day.

The neighbourhood

The hotel is located in the diplomatic enclave in New Delhi, near the prime minister's residence and the Secretariat. This means that the roads are very quiet and there is relatively less traffic. It also means that there is not much to see or do if you want to just walk outside the hotel. The hotel's car will drive you to the nearby Connaught Place, a hub of all kinds of shops and restaurants, or you could hop into a rickshaw and go there for about 100 Indian rupees (Dh8). Delhi's famed Mogul-era historical spots, such as the Red Fort, Qutub Minar, Humayun's tomb and Raj Ghat, a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi, are all a short drive away.

The service

Although the staff is warm and welcoming, it is obvious that this is a newly opened hotel and the standard of service needs to go up a notch. The staff has been trained to deliver on all the usual requests, but anything unusual - such as an express check-in - puts them off step. The servers at Qube, one of the restaurants, left me alone for long stretches without refilling my water glass or taking down additional orders and then suddenly descended en masse. The concierge is a fount of information and fulfills all my requests quickly and gracefully.

The room

The 260 rooms are spacious, with the lowest category of room clocking in at 51 square metres. The decor is distinctive, with beautiful Indian etchings framed off centre - a subtle but stylish touch. The bed is among the most comfortable I've slept in, because I like crisp sheets and a firm mattress. I loved the city views from my windows that showed Delhi's broad boulevards and foliage in very favourable light. The spacious and sensitively designed bathroom has separate glass partitions for the shower and toilet and a large bath from where you can watch TV while soaking in Penhaligon toiletries. There is a dock with an iTouch, an LCD television with a Blu-ray DVD player and internet access.

The food

Le Cirque and Megu, two of the hotel's four restaurants, are not yet open. Jamavar offers delicious Indian food from different regions - Alleppey meen (fish) curry and chicken chettinad are popular among Delhiites wanting a taste of southern India. Qube, the all-day dining outlet, offers a variety of cuisines, including Lebanese, Egyptian, French, Italian and Indian. The lunch buffet (2,000 rupees; Dh160 per person) includes small portions of appetisers and made-to-order main courses that change every day. When I visited, there was Thai green curry, Kashmiri dum aloo, lasagne in pretty, single-portion Le Cruesetcontainers, and biryani, both chicken and vegetarian. The Library bar is a cosy place for drinks and has bound editions of Punch, which the hotel bought at auction. The bartender is well versed in mixing drinks, and the soothing ambience and service makes you feel like an English baron.

The scene

Punjabi ladies who like to lunch throng Qube in large groups and pay in cash from monthly allowances that their industrialist husbands dole out to them. The lobby is buzzing during the day, becoming quiet at night. The hotel still hasn't been discovered by tour groups and maintains a classy decorum throughout. The bountiful flowers - the hotel orders some 3,500 roses every day - that are everywhere are a lovely luxurious touch. The staff greet you with a traditional namaste and the red saris that the female staff wear are in keeping with the opulence. The hotel promises to become a favourite with visiting diplomats, who will no doubt savour the delights of the 413-sq-m "maharajah" suite - complete with bulletproof windows, amazing views of Delhi and complimentary chauffeured Rolls Royce.

Loved

I loved the detail and the quality of the interiors. The wooden furniture is sturdy and beautifully finished; the silk upholstery is perfectly pitched; the carpets and chandeliers are top of the line and the Indian accents are classy. Once the friendly staff is better trained, the service will become top notch. The solitary monumental Buddha that sits in the gardens offers a serene counterpoint. The sitar fusion music is a step up from traditional elevator music.

Hated

The large plastic trees in the lobby. Why, after spending so much money on stylish decor, would you put ugly plastic trees in the lobby?

The verdict

If you want to stay in Lutyens' Delhi, very few hotels can compare to this. The Leela would be a great choice for a layover before a hectic India vacation. The in-house Espa spa offers terrific Ayurvedic massages to soothe jetlagged muscles.

The bottom line

Double rooms cost from 10,790 rupees (Dh876) per night, including taxes. The Leela Palace, Chanakyapuri, Diplomatic Enclave, New Delhi (www.theleela.com; 00 91 11 3933 1234).

Company Profile

Company name: Fine Diner

Started: March, 2020

Co-founders: Sami Elayan, Saed Elayan and Zaid Azzouka

Based: Dubai

Industry: Technology and food delivery

Initial investment: Dh75,000

Investor: Dtec Startupbootcamp

Future plan: Looking to raise $400,000

Total sales: Over 1,000 deliveries in three months

KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

Diriyah project at a glance

- Diriyah’s 1.9km King Salman Boulevard, a Parisian Champs-Elysees-inspired avenue, is scheduled for completion in 2028
- The Royal Diriyah Opera House is expected to be completed in four years
- Diriyah’s first of 42 hotels, the Bab Samhan hotel, will open in the first quarter of 2024
- On completion in 2030, the Diriyah project is forecast to accommodate more than 100,000 people
- The $63.2 billion Diriyah project will contribute $7.2 billion to the kingdom’s GDP
- It will create more than 178,000 jobs and aims to attract more than 50 million visits a year
- About 2,000 people work for the Diriyah Company, with more than 86 per cent being Saudi citizens

'HIJRAH: IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE PROPHET'

Edited by: Idries Trevathan
Pages: 240
Publisher: Hirmer Publishers
Available: Now

Blue Beetle

Director: Angel Manuel Soto
Stars: Xolo Mariduena, Adriana Barraza, Damian Alcazar, Raoul Max Trujillo, Susan Sarandon, George Lopez
Rating: 4/5 

THE SPECS

Engine: 3-litre V6 turbo (standard model, E-hybrid); 4-litre V8 biturbo (S)
Power: 350hp (standard); 463hp (E-hybrid); 467hp (S)
Torque: 500Nm (standard); 650Nm (E-hybrid); 600Nm (S)
Price: From Dh368,500
On sale: Now

Look north

BBC business reporters, like a new raft of government officials, are being removed from the national and international hub of London and surely the quality of their work must suffer.

THE SPECS

Engine: 2.4-litre four-cylinder
Power: 210hp
Torque: 320Nm
Price: Starting from Dh89,900
On sale: Now

If you go

The flights

Fly direct to London from the UAE with Etihad, Emirates, British Airways or Virgin Atlantic from about Dh2,500 return including taxes. 

The hotel

Rooms at the convenient and art-conscious Andaz London Liverpool Street cost from £167 (Dh800) per night including taxes.

The tour

The Shoreditch Street Art Tour costs from £15 (Dh73) per person for approximately three hours. 

Points about the fast fashion industry Celine Hajjar wants everyone to know
  • Fast fashion is responsible for up to 10 per cent of global carbon emissions
  • Fast fashion is responsible for 24 per cent of the world's insecticides
  • Synthetic fibres that make up the average garment can take hundreds of years to biodegrade
  • Fast fashion labour workers make 80 per cent less than the required salary to live
  • 27 million fast fashion workers worldwide suffer from work-related illnesses and diseases
  • Hundreds of thousands of fast fashion labourers work without rights or protection and 80 per cent of them are women
The specs: 2019 BMW X4

Price, base / as tested: Dh276,675 / Dh346,800

Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged in-line six-cylinder

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

Power: 354hp @ 5,500rpm

Torque: 500Nm @ 1,550rpm

Fuel economy, combined: 9.0L / 100km

Results

4pm: Al Bastakiya Listed US$300,000 (Dirt) 1,900m; Winner: Emblem Storm, Oisin Murphy (jockey), Satish Seemar (trainer).

4.35pm: Mahab Al Shimaal Group 3 $350,000 (D) 1,200m; Winner: Wafy, Tadhg O’Shea, Satish Seemar.

5.10pm: Nad Al Sheba Turf Group 3 $350,000 (Turf) 1,200m; Winner: Wildman Jack, Fernando Jara, Doug O’Neill.

5.45pm: Burj Nahaar Group 3 $350,000 (D) 1,600m; Winner: Salute The Soldier, Adrie de Vries, Fawzi Nass.

6.20pm: Jebel Hatta Group 1 $400,000 (T) 1,800m; Winner: Barney Roy, William Buick, Charlie Appleby.

6.55pm: Al Maktoum Challenge Round-3 Group 1 $600,000 (D) 2,000m; Winner: Matterhorn, Mickael Barzalona, Salem bin Ghadayer.

7.30pm: Dubai City Of Gold Group 2 $350,000 (T) 2,410m; Winner: Loxley, Mickael Barzalona, Charlie Appleby.

How it works

1) The liquid nanoclay is a mixture of water and clay that aims to convert desert land to fertile ground

2) Instead of water draining straight through the sand, it apparently helps the soil retain water

3) One application is said to last five years

4) The cost of treatment per hectare (2.4 acres) of desert varies from $7,000 to $10,000 per hectare 

RESULTS

West Asia Premiership

Thursday
Jebel Ali Dragons 13-34 Dubai Exiles

Friday
Dubai Knights Eagles 16-27 Dubai Tigers

'Top Gun: Maverick'

Rating: 4/5

Directed by: Joseph Kosinski

Starring: Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Miles Teller, Glen Powell, Ed Harris

MATCH INFO

Uefa Champioons League semi-final, first leg:

Liverpool 5
Salah (35', 45+1'), Mane (56'), Firmino (61', 68')

Roma 2
Dzeko (81'), Perotti (85' pen)

Second leg: May 2, Stadio Olimpico, Rome

The five pillars of Islam

1. Fasting

2. Prayer

3. Hajj

4. Shahada

5. Zakat

Sweet Tooth

Creator: Jim Mickle
Starring: Christian Convery, Nonso Anozie, Adeel Akhtar, Stefania LaVie Owen
Rating: 2.5/5


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