Prior to the pandemic, I enjoyed a ‘colorful’ holiday in India. You can read my trip reports here:
- Review: Lufthansa Airbus A350 Business Class from Munich to New Delhi
- Review: The Taj Lake Palace Hotel, Udaipur
- Review: The Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur
- Review: The Leela Palace Hotel, New Delhi (today)
- Review: Lufthansa Airbus A380 First Class from New Delhi to Frankfurt
Today (August 5, 2020): Review of The Leela Palace New Delhi (India).
- Location: Google maps
- Hotel website: The Leela Palace New Delhi
- Tip: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso
The Leela Palace New Delhi is located at the very heart of the capital’s prestigious Diplomatic Enclave and exemplifies the magnificent architecture, grace and elegance of Lutyens’ Delhi. The 254 guestrooms, as inviting as they are opulent, offer top-end comfort, service and technology, and rank among the largest in the city. When you book a Royal Club rooms (or higher), you also get complimentary transfers, food and beverage throughout the day and more. The hotel’s culinary offerings include two international fine dining institutions: modern-Japanese restaurant MEGU and French-Italian restaurant Le Cirque. Recreational facilities are Spa by ESPA London and a lovely rooftop pool. The property is just a short distance from India Gate and other iconic city landmarks.
The Leela Palace New Delhi features in my top 10 lists of the best luxury hotels in New Delhi.
Have you ever stayed at The Leela Palace New Delhi ? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment.
In this review (more info and photos below my Youtube clip & slideshow):
- Pros & things I like
- Cons & things to know
- My verdict
- Tips for future guests & save money
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
PROS & THINGS I LIKE
- The Leela Palace New Delhi is an unmistakable landmark located in South Delhi, on the edge of Chanakyapuri, also known as the Diplomatic Enclave, where most of the capital’s international embassies are located. It sits close to the Prime Minister’s residence as well as a number of historical monuments including the India Gate, Raj Ghat & the Qutab Minar. It’s a short walk from Delhi’s vibrant central business district and ministries in downtown Chanakyapuri. The property is also conveniently close (6 mi or 10 km) to New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport, which is less than 30 min by taxi (traffic dependent).
- With architecture inspired by Edwin Lutyens and designed by acclaimed architect John Gerondelis, The Leela Palace New Delhi, which occupies a three acre site, is conceptualized as a modern day palace, fusing classical architecture with elements from historical Indian palaces. The property has an imposing exterior, with a sandstone facade and a massive gold-leafed dome, modeled on the one at Rashtrapati Bhavan (the Victorian crown jewel of Raj-era Delhi). The hotel’s main entrance is particularly impressive, with a grand entryway that is supported by massive elephant statues, paying architectural tribute to the city’s colonial past.
- The hotel’s interior is as grand as its exterior with an opulent, classical decor that is particularly impressive in the ornate, heigh ceilinged lobby. The central part of the lobby is two stories tall and covered by an enormous Persian rug, while separate sitting areas on the side feature shimmering marble floors. The massive space is filled by fresh flower displays, mirrored Venetian screens, crystal chandeliers, intricately carved tables, and silk sofas dressed with colorful cushions. One side of the lobby features an enormous glass wall which overlooks a small, shaded grassy lawn (the only green space available within the hotel compound).
- The Leela Palace New Delhi’s 260 rooms and suites are some of the largest in the capital. Each room is furnished in an opulent yet contemporary style and features state-of-the-art facilities and amenities. The hotel’s most luxurious accommodations include suites with private infinity edge pools, but during my visit, I stayed in a more modest ‘Deluxe Premiere Room’, the hotel’s room entry category. The room was pretty standard, with two queen sized beds (as requested), a work desk, relax chair, and ensuite marble bathroom equipped with two sinks, a toilet, shower, and deep soaking bathtub.
- Referred to as a ‘hotel-within-a-hotel’ the Royal Club epitomizes palatial luxury within five star hotels in New Delhi. Services and amenities when staying at The Leela Palace New Delhi’s Royal Club include exclusive check-in and check-out, a welcome drink on arrival, access to the exclusive Royal Club Lounge, complimentary food and beverage arrangements throughout the day (served in the lounge), use of one meeting room for two hour once during the stay, complimentary airport transfers by limousine, 24 hour personalized butler service (with packing and unpacking), and evening cocktail hours at the Royal Club Lounge.
- The hotel’s rooftop swimming pool on the 11th floor is the highest and only rooftop pool in India’s capital. The pool is also temperature-controlled and is thus accessible to guests throughout the year. While the pool itself is a sight to behold, it is further enhanced by sweeping views of New Delhi’s skyline. One side of the pool is flanked by a soothing green fresco set against the landscaping below, while the other side is flanked by a stone wall embossed with bronze art work. The pool experience comes with a basket laden with fresh lemonade, chilled water, sunscreen lotion, and rose water infused towels.
- The four exclusive restaurants at The Leela Palace New Delhi offer cuisine and service that rank among the best in India’s capital:
- One can dine casually all day at the glass restaurant, The Qube (located on the lobby level), where chefs at their live stations create exotic dishes.
- Jamava is the hotel’s fine dining Indian specialty restaurant, offering a cuisine and spectacular décor that ensures a rich, royal and majestic experience.
- The European influenced restaurant, Le Cirque, is located on the 10th floor and features Delhi’s most prestigious show kitchen and exclusive private dining rooms.
- The Japanese specialty restaurant, Megu, is found on the Lobby level, and offers signature dishes like Alaskan King Crab with cucumber salad.
- Designed by Jeffrey Wilkes, the hotel’s ESPA Spa draws inspiration from India’s glorious traditional heritage but fuses this with the contemporary style of the present found in cosmopolitan New Delhi. In a city so full of visual stimulation and chaotic beauty, the spa, by contrast offers a peaceful serenity, that allows each guest to simply relax, unwind and harmoniously embrace the traditional warmth of The Leela Palace New Delhi. The spa is designed on two levels: the ‘active’ spa is on level one and includes a state-of-the-art gym, whereas the ‘passive’ spa can be found on level two. The latter features seven treatments rooms and a private spa suite.
- The owners spent almost US$400 million USD to build the hotel, and 5 million of that budget went to the hotel’s impressive art collection. The property showcases some of the most regal designs to ever adorn a modern palace by eminent artists from India, including Satish Gujral, Paresh Maity, Sanjay Bhattacharya, Satish Gupta, and Laxman Goud. The artwork varies from corridor to wall; restaurant to guestroom and spa to lobby. The intriguing elephant motifs on the wall and royal murals add a regal ambience and charm. It has helped in the revival of miniature painting as an art form by master craftsmen from Rajasthan, and Bidri work from Uttar Pradesh.
- The hotel is managed by The Leela Hotel Group, one of India’s top 3 hotel brands (besides Oberoi and Taj Hotels). The Leela story begins with its founder Capt Nair constructed the group’s first hotel in Mumbai. Nair tied-up with the Penta group, a subsidiary of Lufthansa for a marketing franchise. When Kempinski bought over the Penta group, the hotel was renamed The Leela Kempinski. Since 2013, the hotel has been rechristened The Leela Mumbai. In a span of 30 years, the company has grown to comprise a world-class collection of nine award-winning luxury hotels spread across key destinations in India with many more on the anvil.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
The Leela Palace New Delhi is one of the best hotels in India’s capital city. The hotel was recently ranked the number two city hotel in Asia by Travel + Leisure. Yet, it’s not perfect, and here’s why:
- There are a lot of pigeons on the hotel’s rooftop, although the hotel tries to address this problem by spanning (visually unattractive) nets over the pool to keep the birds away. This problem is not limited to The Leela Palace Hotel, but is a general problem in New Delhi. As 70 percent of New Delhi is composed of green spaces with multiple nature sanctuaries in the city’s surroundings, birds are plentiful in the capital (e.g. pigeons, eagles and parrots).
- Although the hotel is famed for its service (with raving reviews on the internet), there were a lot of service hiccups during my stay, which frankly should not happen at a five star hotel. For example, the check-in process took a lot of time, which was rather annoying. Also, housekeeping never replenished toiletries in the bathroom nor replaced dirty glasses in the room. The most troubling event was that one night, I was woken up at 3 am by a call from the reception, only to be told that they contacted the wrong room (no apologies whatsoever).
- While the hotel is set in the heart of the Diplomatic Enclave, the surrounding area is rather dirty (with a lot of construction going on) and not particularly appealing for a stroll. Also, the hotel is not within reasonable walking distance of a metro station.
- The hotel is built on a small site, and – with the exception of its rooftop pool and a small shaded garden next to the lobby – lacks a nice outdoor space to relax a little after a day of sightseeing or doing business. For example, the hotel’s competitors The Oberoi New Delhi and The Lodhi New Delhi both feature a large garden that offers a respite from the Indian capital’s hustle and bustle.
- The hotel features an opulent design, which won’t be appealing to all travelers. I also found the rather corporate decor in the room to be underwhelming (but maybe my expectations were too high, given the stellar reputation of the property).
- The hotel enjoys a convenient location close the airport, which appeals to both business and leisure travelers. It also offers ‘limousine’ transfers to and from the airport, but this service is clearly overcharged (5500 INR or 60 USD, compared to 1500 INR or 15 USD for a taxi) and the hotel does not deliver on the service itself (a Toyota is not exactly what I would call a limousine).
- Location: 6/10
- Design: 8/10
- Pool: 8/10
- Rooms: 7/10
- Dinner: 8/10
- Breakfast: n/a (I did not have breakfast at the property)
- Spa: 8/10
- Service: 7/10
- Value for money: 9/10
- Overall experience: very good 8/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
- Save money: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and one lunch or dinner for two).
- Save money: read here my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like The Leela Palace New Delhi (and/or receive many free perks).
- Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Autumn (October & November) or Spring (February & March) are considered the best times to visit New Delhi. During this period, the weather is sunny with comfortable temperatures, drawing many tourists from various parts of the world. It is not recommended to visit Delhi in summers because of the unpleasant weather. From April to June, Delhi sees sandy, hot winds and Delhiites get roasted by extremely high temperatures, sometimes hoovering around 45° C (113° F). The months of July, August and September are the monsoon season in the city: while the temperatures see a considerable dip, the humidity constantly rises with the highest rainfall occurring in July and August. Delhi’s winter months of December, January and February bring biting cold weather, heavy fog and cool winds.
HOW TO GET THERE
The Leela Palace New Delhi is about 6 miles (10 km) from Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport, which takes around 20 minutes by taxi (depending on the traffic). Click here for a continuously updated list of airlines that provide direct flights to Delhi.