Melissa Barker discovers some of the delights of India
After an eight-hour flight I arrived in India's capital, New Delhi, where I was whisked away to the luxurious five-star Park New Delhi Hotel. As soon as I saw the impressive reception I fell in love with the décor its grand furniture, marble floors and high ceilings made me feel like I was in a palace. I was greeted by the oh-so friendly staff who presented me with gifts and locally-sourced drinks before escorting me to my room.One of the best parts of staying anywhere new is opening the door to your bedroom, as you never quite know what you're going to find. The space went beyond my expectations; with a king-sized bed, en suite bathroom, television, living area and a grand window that overlooked the city it was more than I could have asked for. After a quick change of clothes, I was ready to embark on a tour of New Delhi. I've always had a strong interest in culture so I was really excited to see the sights and meet some of the local people. The majority of the buildings were painted with murals and the streets were filled with tuk tuks that whizzed past I felt like I was in a Bollywood film. I visited the local markets, where I saw how saris were made and had the opportunity to purchase handmade jewellery and locally-sourced spices that smelt out of this world.That evening I enjoyed dinner at the hotel's fabulous restaurant, Fire. The extravagant menu was 80 per cent organic and the ingredients were all sourced from local farmers. It had something to suit everyone and was absolutely delicious. My personal favourite was the curry platter that was so good I wanted seconds!
Dance the night away
The next morning I ventured down to the lobby where I was greeted by the lovely tour guides who took me to see the sights of Old Delhi. It's the oldest part of the city and is full of historic gems. I visited the Red Fort, which was home to the emperors of the Mughal dynasty in the 19th-century. The history behind the building was fascinating and its definitely worth a visit. I also explored the local spice markets on a rickshaw ride a highlight of the trip for me, it was great fun whizzing in and out of traffic and a fantastic way of seeing the city. The last stop was the Jama Masjid, it's one of the largest mosques in India and even in the pouring rain it was truly a sight to behold. I love being pampered so when I arrived back at the hotel I was thrilled to discover I had a massage waiting for me. The masseuse talked me through the process and escorted me to a candlelit room that smelt divine, the experience lasted for an hour and it's safe to say I didn't want it to end!That evening the hotel hosted a grand event to celebrate the chain's 50th birthday. It was the most extravagant party I've ever seen with more than 2,000 people attending. There was food everywhere I looked including a huge dessert table that was so good that I visited it three times throughout the night! The variety in entertainment was spectacular and the staff went out of their way to ensure everyone was enjoying themselves it was a truly memorable night.
Come fly with me
The next day I hopped on a two-hour flight to Kolkata, ready to explore the fabulous city. When I arrived at The Park Kolkata Hotel I was greeted by the friendly staff who gave me a tour of the venue's facilities I loved seeing the spa, beauty salon, grand swimming pool, clubs and impressive bedrooms.After a few hour's rest I embarked on a tour of the city. The first stop was Mother Teresa's House, if you love culture and history then this is a must-see. It was a humbling experience and it was amazing seeing how the locals still worship her. I was lucky to also see how the statues for the upcoming Durga Puja festival were made. The event celebrates Durga, a warrior goddess whose mythology centres around combating evil and restoring peace and posterity. The whole community comes together to honour her and I wish I could have seen the festival in full swing.That evening I enjoyed dinner and drinks at the restaurant, ZEN. I was treated to an eight-course meal, that was so good I couldn't move afterwards! It was out of this world and a must-try if you're staying at the hotel.
Riding the waves
I'd heard about the iconic Flury's throughout the trip and I couldn't wait to try it for myself. It's a legendary tearoom situated on the famous Park Street in the heart of Kalkata. There was so much choice it was difficult to choose just one option, after much deliberation I opted for a selection of pastries that were absolutely delicious.After breakfast I ventured down to the docks for a tour of the nearby town, Serampore. The boat was fabulous and I was treated to a glass of bubbly while I lounged on the comfortable sofas in the sun I never wanted to leave. Upon arrival I was taken to the Denmark Tavern, a beautiful derelict property that's recently been renovated. It served a wide range of food that went beyond my expectations and I even managed to try some pizza yum. I spent the next few hours lounging around the hotel before being transported to the airport where I reflected on the fabulous trip. Everything was perfect from the amazing staff to the luxurious hotels and I'd love to return soon![Need to know...
- Language: Hindi
- Capital: New Delhi
- Currency: Rupee
- Famous for: Taj Mahal
The Park New Delhi | www.theparkhotels.com/new-delhi.html
The Park Kolkata | www.theparkhotels.com/kolkata.html
Jet Airways | www.jetairways.com
Flury's | www.flurys.com