Our new client Lalit, India’s largest privately owned hotel company, recently invited us to experience for ourselves some of their gorgeous five star properties.
First stop was New Delhi, where the Lalit empire began back in 1988. Here we were treated to the same hospitality and level of service that we would find throughout the whole trip. Our short stay also gave us the chance to check out the brand’s award-winning Rejuve – The Spa and Baluchi restaurant, both of which will be showcased in the Lalit London which opens on the site of the former St Olave’s Grammar School near Tower Bridge later next year.
Here we met Chef de Cuisine Satyabir Singh Tyagi who will be part of the opening team in London. He introduced us to Baluchi’s delicious signature dishes including the dal which would become a firm favourite of mine throughout the trip.
An overnight sleeper train then took us 650 kilometres south to the Lalit Temple View hotel, which overlooks the awe-inspiring Khajuraho temples with their world famous artwork. (Take a closer look at the activities set in stone and you can see why Khajuraho has been dubbed the Home of the Kamasutra!) Equally thrilling was our safari drive through the Panna National Park where we were lucky enough to glimpse tigers, monkeys, deer and antelope.
Onto Kolkata and the iconic Great Eastern Hotel. Built in 1835 it has seen a host of famous guests check in over the years, Mark Twain, Mahatma Gandhi and Queen Elizabeth II among them. I loved how so many of the building’s original features had been retained, with the bakery restaurant including tables set in the original walk-in oven. The food here was incredible, drawing on many influences: Bengali and Nawabi delicacies, Anglo-Indian specialties and dishes inspired by Tangra, Kolkata’s Chinatown.
Our final destination was The Lalit Resort & Spa Bekal, a glorious resort in Kerala. Regarded as one of the finest spas in India, its 39 suites and one villa overlook the palm tree-lined river Nombili. The hotel is set on an almost deserted – and completely private – one-mile beach. The last night of our trip we watched the sun set over the Arabian Sea before enjoying another amazing feast – including of course my favourite dal. The perfect end to a brilliant week.