A flambéed moong-sprout salad is served with a flourish that flares into a curtain of fire between diner and chef at the Japanese-style teppanyaki bar, which dishes up an impressive five-course Indian dinner. As we wait for a dessert of chukander aur mewe ka halwa, the now idling teppan hosts a juggling performance by our chef and his chopper-sharp utensils.
Drama is the watchword at the Radisson Blu Hotel New Delhi Paschim Vihar. A baroque mirrored accent wall in the lobby sets the tone for public areas of black granite and white marble gleaming under overblown chandeliers. The leaning to showmanship results sometimes in spectacular success, and at other times a slight suspension of sensible behaviour.
The former is best evinced by speciality Indian restaurant Indyaki, its main draw the seats at the grill counter, operated by flair-trained chefs who could give many a bartender a run for their tips. Prepared Nipponese style, the theatrical Indian fusion — roti pe boti chops up Lucknawi lamb and piles it on Malabar paratha wedges — hopes to spread to Blus across the nation. The panoramic view from the pools, the gardens and fountains visible from the window-wrapped eateries are great supporting acts.
The latter results in dressing areas dark as a vampire’s den at noon and lightless closets. Good luck shaving under your chin; Abhay Raichand would be right at home here. Pale sofas too slender to slouch in are dictated by the neo-Gothic décor, which begins with black acrylic wingbacks in the lobby lounge and continues to ghost chairs in the restaurant. Skimping on electric sockets and bins in the living area imposes tiny tensions and a stiff formality on the space.
However, everything is expansive, like the legendary heart of Punjab. Single treatment rooms at the Pevonia spa are as big as some couple suites I’ve seen. My executive suite stretches over 700 sq ft, but even the smallest superior room is 350 sq ft. Everything is also ‘masala maar ke’. Masala chai stars at the beverage station. The Cupcakes confectionery makes spiced strawberry truffles. The all-day dining restaurant, helpfully called Level 2, does its best work with Indian delicacies across latitudes — its chaats are stellar — but the wine cellar is the showpiece.
This, I gather, is what Punjabi Bagh ordered — a venue of such opulence that wedding parties need not cross the city to a downtown address that pinches even these hearty pockets; where there is tashan sufficient to the afternoon kitty and poolside party for baby’s second birthday; and where visitors from the Middle East don’t suffer too much of an aesthetic shock while they recuperate from eye surgery at a local hospital.
Glocal though it seems, this is still a Radisson, enjoying 45 per cent occupancy on a low-season weekday. So the in-room check-in is swift; the room service menu includes eggless and sugar-free apple-avocado strudel for fitness fans; the chauffeur is friendly and happy to point out landmarks. And despite its seemingly off-centre location, the drive into the city centre through peak-hour traffic takes just 25 sedate minutes.
Location Plot D, District Centre, Outer Ring Road, Paschim Vihar; 30 minutes to city centre; 25 minutes to airport
Accommodation 122 superior rooms; 35 business class rooms; 3 junior suites;15 executive suites; 2 deluxe suites; 1 presidential suite
Tariff Rs 6,000 (superior rooms); Rs 8,000 (business class); Rs 10,000 (junior suite); Rs 12,000 (executive suite); Rs 14,000 (deluxe suite); Rs 50,000 (presidential suite)