To be fair, Surajkund isn’t really out in the ‘country,’ it’s only in Faridabad — though that might mean the same thing to a Delhiite. For all practical purposes, The Claridges’ sprawling new property in Surajkund is less than 20 minutes away from Greater Kailash. What it does happily have in common with the country is fresh air and a picturesque setting: many of the hotel’s rooms face the green environs of Surajkund. And its temperament is equal to the locale — the staff’s unaffected demeanour is a welcoming change from New Delhi’s haughty five-star properties.
The advantageous location also entails another benefit city hotels are seriously short on: space, and lots of it. The basic deluxe rooms alone are 400 sq ft, making this the right place to take the kids. The bathrooms are huge and many include sunken bathtubs and his-and-hers sinks. The majority of rooms also have spacious balconies, a luxurious touch. The entire first floor, which encompasses the lobby, an art lounge, the bar (Blue Bar) and coffee shop (Oasis) wrap fluidly around a large outdoor courtyard by means of enormous floor-to-ceiling windows, so a sense of warm natural light is paramount. While The Claridges is not a traditional luxury resort, it will certainly serve as a pleasant weekend getaway for nature-parched Delhi residents.
Apart from the obvious appeal of this property to Faridabad locals, corporates and businessmen are the clientèle principally targeted by its orientation. By this I mean the highly minimalistic décor — appropriate for a quick, no-fuss business trip — the well-equipped boardrooms, numerous conference rooms, and the prominence of features like wi-fi and work desks in every room. No list of the hotel’s advantages would be complete without mention of its utterly fabulous infinity pool. With its deep-blue tiles, sculptural adornments and expansive size — and the ‘dipping’ pool it spills over into, complete with deck chairs — this is the prime spot from which to take in the pretty view.
The less-fortunate news — and I regret this cannot be an unqualified review — is that the hotel is, in many regards, still in a nascent stage of coming-into-being. It was intended to open this year and so it has, but many of its highlights will only become operational during its ‘second phase,’ earmarked to take place over the next six months. The Claridges Spa (a spa, salon and gym) will cover 15,500 sq ft and promises to be a considerable draw for guests and members alike. The hotel will launch a second branch of Dhaba, the Delhi property’s acclaimed North Indian restaurant. An additional 135 rooms will open. With these essential features, the hotel will be able to offer a more complete vacation package. Although Oasis serves commendable Italian, Chinese and Indian fare, a clever solution to the one-eatery problem, I’m afraid a five-star these days simply can’t afford not to offer several dining options — at least if it wants to attract Delhi residents.
The wrinkles that need ironing out also extend to day-to-day running operations. While I was in it, my room was entered twice by staff who clearly had no clue a guest was occupying it. The multitude of lights in the room are all operated by one master switch, which means all or nothing — making it impossible to switch on just a bathroom light at night, for instance, to not disturb a sleeping companion. And most aggravating is the computerised TV system and dysfunctional remote. It’s intended as an advantage by offering movies on dem-and and internet-TV, but its labyrinthine menus and poor reception end up being an irritant. As a business-oriented hotel — and in this age of digital TV — its technology functionality should be impeccable.
These are all teething issues that I’m sure will be smoothed out in time, which only adds to my belief that it will be worth your patience to visit The Claridges during its second phase. For it is worth a stay — especially if you’re a wine-drinker. The hotel has a chic walk-in wine cellar that boasts a special complimentary gift to all guests: a tasting of six wines, accompanied by cheese, after 7pm every day. Judging by the excellent Shiraz I sampled, their selection is laudable. Sitting in Oasis’ cheery outdoor section with glass in hand, gazing across the courtyard through the glass-enclosed lobby to the greenery beyond, you’ll find yourself well removed from Delhi’s frenzied reach.
- Location: Shooting Range Road, Faridabad
- Accommodation: 72 deluxe rooms, 36 deluxe with courtyard, 13 Claridges rooms, 12 Claridges with courtyard, 10 executive suites, 6 deluxe suites, 1 presidential suite
- Tariff: Rs 18,500 (deluxe rooms), Rs 19,500 (deluxe with courtyard), Rs 21,500 (Claridges rooms), Rs 22,500 (Claridges with courtyard), Rs 25,000 (executive suites), Rs 50,000 (deluxe suites), Rs 1,00,000 (presidential suite)
- Contact: 0129-4190000, www.claridges.com