There’s a helipad on top of a sunny room in surprisingly sombre colours for someone named Layla. She does, however, dance and drink—though no one ever seems to come down the helipad; they arrive at the 21st floor by lift instead. As they choose a sundowner from Bengaluru’s best-stocked gin collection and head out to the terrace past the voyeuristically glass-wrapped room, they look down at the knotted snakes of the city’s traffic-scaled streets, they look up longingly at the helipad, sigh into their Bombay Sapphire over having to navigate their way home after dinner, and then go peek into the kitchen theatre, impatient for their cauliflower tabbouleh and goat-milk panna cotta. Except for the smarter sheikhs who have booked a room, or are at least staying for the late-night buffet at The Creek downstairs, flowing till Silicon City is ready to reboot at midnight.
Layla is the latest attraction—or distraction—at the Den, the Indian flagship of the Israeli hotel chain Dan, just over a year old in the city. For reasons a little cloudy, they thought Indians would like a Den better than a Dan. It is cloudy likewise downstairs, in the cricket-watchers’ and smokers’ courtyard by the other, bigger bar, at the base of this building that looks like someone made a building out of four Tetris-playing smartphones. The orange cinnamon caprioska at the Nest is a clear winner, though. It is interesting how the bar is the anchor of the F&B and entertainment spaces downstairs, also the meeter-and-greeter for all comers. It is flanked on one side by the all-day dining Creek, with a little cigar display to bridge the two alongside the courtyard; on the other, is the hidden Cave, a cinema-for-hire (free of charge to resident guests) with its own boardroom-sized bar cabinet. Across the corridor is the intergenerational Play House, complete with Xbox and 80 video games for the older generations (sic!) and a pool table for the younger, more with-it crowd who know you don’t need to retreat to a den to play in the digital age. They are more likely to congregate and compete at the Deli espresso bar next door—whose treats are priced pretty handily for a prize.
The Creek, whose service and water moat flow 24/7, indoors and outdoors, is more egalitarian still. There is a wine rack and infused waters and desi drinks as you walk in, a substantial and well-seasoned salad bar that could satisfy the hungriest health nut, an Indian and an international counter of live grills and simmering casseroles, and a pizza oven, a large dessert counter that is—for once in a ‘main’ restaurant—not the highlight of the all-you-can-eat.
Somewhere halfway up the building, before you get to Layla’s louder beats, the conferencers from the 10,000 sq ft basement banquet and guests back ‘home’ from work around Whitefield are squeezing over to the Cold Press for a fresh fruity drink on their way back from the (securely secreted, reachable by secret lift only) Sanctuary spa, pool or gym. The hotel manages to cantilever and carve out privacy under the stars even here, halfway up, alongside the lounge and theatre-style event rooms. Like I was saying, it is easy to lose reluctant colleagues to a game of hide-and-seek here—especially since the staff are sometimes confused too, shall we say.
One thing that does work in the organisers’ favour: the rooms are just comfortable enough to prevent straying to other venues but also bland enough to make the boardroom drama more exciting. The corner rooms are popular for the daylight, I gather. All have four-fixture bathrooms, though sharing sans intimacy can be difficult thanks to the peekaboo architecture that is not optional.
Still, given the good food and a good time at playful events (horrific Halloween foods unashamedly placed by the oysters and lobsters on ice for more expensive tastes), at less-than-five-star prices, the punters do come back. For those who’ve been there and done all that, Layla might surprise with hot mezze and mussels—unless you catch her on a too-busy day. For those who take service really seriously, you might want to have a chat about your expectations before you book.
ACCOMMODATION 226 rooms: 84 Den rooms, 48 Den corner rooms, 24 Den studio rooms, 63 Den club rooms, 2 Loft suites, 3 Den suites, 1 Townhall suite, 1 Paramount suite)