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AMAN New Delhi, an oasis of understated luxury in the heart of the Indian capital

I arrived early morning at New Delhi’s International Airport and felt exhausted after a 10 hour trip, which included one hour of connecting time. Having been to Delhi on two previous trips and having had mix experiences at ”major” international luxury chain hotels, I decided, that on this trip I would try a different hotel, aiming for more privacy and calm in a city notrious for its hectic traffic and huge polution levels. The AMAN Delhi, from the Aman Resorts collection seemed to be exactly what I was looking for.

I was picked up at the airport in a traditional Indian Ambassador car, a luxurious version with soft leather and air-conditioning. While the car is smaller than a Western luxury car, the ride made me feel special, almost like blending in. The journey from the airport, which took 45 minutes made me feel even more tired, most probably because of the air-conditioning which had to be turned up because of the heat.

After crossing through the diplomatic area of Delhi, probably the nicest and cleanest in Delhi, I was whisked into the Aman New Delhi. I have to admit that the first impression, from the outside, was of an office building (modern) but not a hotel. The very efficient airport meet and assist service was then followed by a very warm and genuine welcome at the hotel. A Front Office staff took me directly to my room, which I could check in, even if it was just before 10 am. It was from the balcony of my room that I realized the archicture of the building, majestic, yet not too grand, with perfectly trimmed green grass and a huge swimming pool. The use of the lime stones and moorish sun screen motives, instilled me a feeling of islamic art, rather than India. In any case, one which was pleasant to the eye and felt very peaceful.

The AMAN is all about details which recreate an understated luxury feel, in the sense that everything is conceived to be simple, yet comfortable and functional. There is a lavish use of wood both in public spaces and rooms, providing a feeling of cozyness and warmness.

In contrast with the understated elegance of the rooms are the spectacular views as well as the private plunge pool, divided by a glass wall. Bathing in the free standing bath tub also gives amazing views of the city. I was immediatelly drawn by the bathroom amenities packed in generic luxurious recipients, without being branded. I was told they are natural cosmetics made locally for The Aman. And indeed, they were of very good quality, one could tell from the strong aromatherapeutic scent which only natural products can have.

The same non-branding policy is applied to the hangers in the closet and towels. Not even the pencil on the writing desk had an Aman logo. I found this impressive, especially considering most luxury hotels and resorts operators over-brand interiors of the room, from amenities, to towels etc. It inspired me to think that I am home ! and this was precious !

Rooms are huge, with a large and very comfortable bed. A well equipped business desk and complimentary wi fi of very good speed are just what businessmen are expecting nowadays. Soft drinks in the mini-bar are complimentary and the room service menu has a wide selection of salds, snacks, main dishes and deserts. The beautifully smelling rose petal arrangements and the very subtle small tuberose bouquet by the bed side were a real treat for the senses.

The only challenging aspects of the rooms were, first, the air-conditioning – it can take hours for the desired room temperature to settle in and I was told that if the weather was hot outside, the main system would pump very cold air, which would make individual settings on certain degrees quite impossible, and, secondly, the intricate lighting system in the room.

The hotel is already more than two years old, and wear and tear is already settling in, most carpets in public spaces and rooms need to be replaced and so do the upholstery of some furniture in the room. The wooden decor, especially the blinds are already slightly damaged by extensive use but also by the dust. Sound proofing of the rooms could be improved, not necessarily for the noise but more for the dust that wind pushes into the room on windy days.

Service throughout the hotel was efficient, genuine and intuitive. However, at times, it might seem disconnected and impersonal. Name recognition is a challenge for some staff, and they keep asking for the room number. Because of a lack of communication between staff, there can be, at times, no follow up or delays on your requests. For instance, after a second check of the airconditioning, the technician said he would call and check whether the temperature improved. Another example is related to front office – as it was a storm outside and the taxi seemed to take longer, I asked a Front Office agent whether they could arrange to go out and buy some medicine for me. It took more than one hour, although they said nearest pharmacy is less than 10 minutes away.

The SPA is state of the art, with huge treatment rooms (each with free standing jacuzzi bath tub, relaxation bed and amazon shower). However, I found the SPA menu quite modest, especially considering AMAN is first and foremost an operator of resort hotels. I had a signature treatment which was supposed to include four different massage techniques and several oils. I only had one type of massage technique and only one massage oil. The therapist had a good training, yet did not connect and the interaction was minimal. I also found very few products for retail and the ones they had, they were branded Aman, yet, had no labels with ingredients, which I think are a must for any guest. They may of good quality and natural and they may be non branded, but guests need to know the ingredients (i.e. allergies) and expiration date.

Probably the most beautiful part of the SPA is the Turkish traditional Hammam, with two large steam rooms (both interconnected), each at different temperatures. The two plunge pools in the Hammam area are also of different temperature. And the SPA offers a complete, genuine and traditional SPA Hammam experience with Turkish trained therapist and using traditional soaps.

The lounge bar and the cigar club are ideal for networking with friends or business partners and there is also a private board room. A wide range of business services are available on request. Throughout the hotel, one might also discover several art collections, on display. The most impressive to me, were the oversized sculpture heads and the gold coloured natural size cow (see photo gallery). The hotel actually has a designated, professional art gallery space, which hosts, regularly, exhibitions of various local artists, with sculpture, paintings, sketches or digital artwork.

While staying at the AMAN, make sure you do not miss the Delhi Golf Course, minutes from the hotel, as wekk as the adjacent medieval Nizzamudin Complex. The hotel is ideally situated for  museums and galleries, yet within minutes from the main business destinations.

Overall, the AMAN is definitely one of the best luxury hotels in New Delhi, probably the most private and calm and definitely the only city hotel in India with so many private plunge pools in the rooms and suites.

Oliver Petcu

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