My flight into Hyderabad arrived at 10.40pm so it was only around midnight that I reached the Park Hyatt Hyderabad. Their attentiveness drew my attention though — the restaurant was called from the car and asked to rustle up something hot and piping by the time I checked into my room.
Next morning I was rested and ready to nose around. I began, naturally, at the Blob. Well, that’s all I can think of calling the 27-foot-high undulating form in matte white that anchors the lobby atrium. They call it ‘Becoming’ and it’s a John Portman original, the influential architect whose firm built the hotel. Sitting at the end of a 131-foot-long linear reflecting pool that runs the lobby’s length, it does look a bit Ganesh-like (although ‘Mother and Child’ has also been suggested). That’s becoming, I guess. Being mounted on a thin reflective stainless steel platform helps — the sculpture appears to float above the water. This is where I had my very own Duryodhana moment while attempting to find the shortest route to the inviting pastry counter at the centre of the lobby. The water was perfectly still, but this was just before the formal opening and I’m assured it sparkles safely now.
And that’s how I ended up having lunch with the GM at Tre-Forni, the signature Northern Italian restaurant, in soaking wet shoes. (Joking, joking — I donned chappals instead.) Over a leisurely meal, the suave Sven Hoffmeyer, GM, talked about the Hyatt brand and shared the facts. Park is the top brand in the Hyatt kitty. The Hyderabad hotel is not India’s first Park Hyatt (there’s one in Goa) but it is the first Park Hyatt city hotel (Park Hyatts tend to be resort properties). Sven’s last assignment was as GM of the Hyatt Regency Kolkata, and he spoke glowingly of that metropolis’s work culture. And we hadn’t even got to the grappa yet.
The food was gripping, perhaps because it was uncomplicated. Under chef Matteo’s watchful gaze, I gorged on wafer-thin pizzas (from one of three beechwood ovens that lend the restaurant its name), a potato and clam soup, a lamb ragout, eggplant parmigiana and other stellar morsels. They have adventurous options — like insalata di polpo (octopus salad) — as well. Most important of all, all the pasta is fresh, handmade daily on the premises. It takes a confident tiramisu to outshine a meal so lovely, but I’ve never picked up a better pick-me-up.
And to the grappa. The hallowed Grappa Nonino, to be precise, from the family-owned distillery in Friuli, and personally selected and sourced by Sven. That’s the sort of attentiveness to detail that caught my attention.
I continued my tour, now from the outside in. The façade, clad in natural Madurai stone, features large swathes of glass. Metal sunscreens have been installed to combat the sun’s harsher moods. A boulder or two, found on the site (this is Banjara Hills, after all) and left intact at the entrance, make for a dramatic statement. There’s a formidable security system in place, invisibly everywhere and rather visibly at the gate. I thought it verged on paranoia but it’s merely guest relations — this is what many customers have simply come to expect.
The interiors themselves, by Hirsch Bedner Associates, are satisfyingly opulent, without being garish, a tough feat to pull off. Italian marble, generously employed, approaches hues of chocolate, the lobby carpet is so soft, it tickles my ankles (as Raymond Chandler would have said), the soaring inner atrium (a hallmark of John Portman buildings) is suffused with natural light. There’s a profusion of plant life and water features indoors, creating a sort of micro-oasis to combat Hyderabad’s harsh aridity.
The rooms and suites, starting at 45 sq m, are some of the largest Hyderabad has ever seen. I retreat to mine. Done up in soothing earth tones, with motifs inspired by henna patterns and contrasted with silk and vibrant colours, it’s a pleasing space: understated but neither boring nor austere.
A large print of a photograph by local shutterbug Rajan Reddy graces a wall. The bathroom, split into two parts, is just beyond the door. I find the cleaving intuitive though a few guests seem thrown by it. The washbasin and wardrobe are to one side while the WC, shower and tub are to another. The writing desk is large enough to double up as a proper dining table, which it does. There are delicate touches, literally, in artefacts like the fragile glass vase and glass candy bowl. The Nespresso machine offers a choice of blends: fortisso lungo, vivalto and decaffeinato (decaf never sounded well). Business travellers probably have bad backs as a matter of course, so, thoughtfully, the bed sports an orthopaedic mattress and is one of the most comfortable I’ve ever slept in. It’s also the first time I’m encountering a guest information docket in a five-star hotel which is also in Hindi. The attention is in the detail.
The top two floors of the eight-floor property have been given over to long-stay serviced apartments, with their own dedicated entrance. This is another first for Hyderabad: serviced apartments incorporated into a hotel. There are one- to three-bedroom options available, all featuring hardwood floors and marble countertops. Apartments that do not have views into the city gaze at lush indoor gardens instead. Dwellers will, of course, have access to all Park Hyatt facilities. Incidentally, the eight towering pillars in the lobby that draw the eye so compellingly to Ganesh aren’t just ornamental — they actually prop up the apartment floors.
The Park Hyatt Hyderabad takes its food very seriously, as I experienced first-hand. Beyond the communal tables of Tre-Forni are the Dining Room, an all-day-dining restaurant offering European classics as well as authentic Indian comfort food, the Oriental Bar & Kitchen and the Living Room, where I settled down for a traditional afternoon tea. Only, this wasn’t the usual clotted cream-and-scones thingummy — at the Park Hyatt Hyderabad, you can order a Nizami high tea. Mine included non-veg samosas, cucumber and minced lamb sandwiches, French pastries and, the highlight, local delicacies like dilkhush and dilpasand.
One could go on about that attention to detail. About the lovely art, carefully selected and strewn across the walls, about the heated massage bed in the Spa, about the floral décor, which someone from Norway came all the way to curate, about a hundred other details. Or one could just sit back (perhaps after borrowing something from the Tre-Forni Bar’s whisky and cognac ‘library’) and celebrate a brand new place to celebrate the new Hyderabad.
The informationLocation Road No. 2, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad 500034. 40km/50min from Hyderabad International Airport, 11.5km from Secunderabad railway station
Accommodation 185 rooms and 24 suites
Tariff Rs 11,000 (Park room), Rs 14,000 (View room), Rs 18,000 (Park suite), Rs 31,000 (Executive suite), Rs 61,000 (Diplomat suite), Rs 86,000 (Chairman suite), Rs 1,16,000 (Presidential suite)