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Book Review: Glorious Hotels of India

Book Review: Glorious Hotels of India
The cover of Glorious Hotels of India,

Read up on the best places to stay in India and witness the eye-popping evolution of hotels in the country over the ages this Cosmo Brockway and Harriet Compston special

Sharmistha Chaudhuri
May 30 , 2019
02 Min Read

Imagine criss crossing the length and breadth of the country to compile and curate a list of 40 of India’s best and most iconic hotels for a beautiful and lavish coffee-table book. Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? It took travel writers Cosmo Brockway and Harriet Compston, who left their jobs in London for this project, a total of three years. Three years of travelling on planes, trains and buses, from Kashmir to Kerala, to bring forth an authentic view of India’s most intriguing hotels, scattered all across its expanse. The cherry-on-top is Karam Puri’s photographs, which manage to capture the opulence quite well. Each page is a delight for the reader as it showcases features of the properties that are otherwise easy to miss. From the marble corridors and sandstone pillars to the ravishing wall portraits, the colonial furniture and floral tiles to the antique silver bric-a-bracs—this book is a visual delight like no other. 

The term ‘glorious’ finds many definitions here, and not just those to do with heritage and royalty. Many of the included hotels are new—like the Glenburn Penthouse in Kolkata or the Taj Exotica Resort and Spa, Andamans. The writers have thoroughly researched each property and arranged them alphabetically in this book. The list begins with Abode in Mumbai, one of the city’s first boutique hotels, and ends with W Goa that opened in late 2016 on Vagator, a beach renowned for its incredible sunsets. As I turned each page, I was drawn to the vivid colours: the many shades of yellow and the frangipani-embellished trees that reveal Goa’s Avanilaya, or the harmony created by the black-and-white tiles in Loulou’s Land (Dindigul). The book also brings to mind how diverse India is, through the lens of its hotels. They are located in crowded cities as well as in isolated valleys, and everywhere else in between. 

Brief quotes make this book delightful. Sonam Kapoor, Dame Judi Dench, Madhur Jaffrey, Yasmin Le Bon, Stephen Fry, artist Violet Astor and many more; their personal memories attached with the hotels make the narrative all the more real for readers. For instance, the Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur, which recently saw the wedding of Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas, is also where Elizabeth Hurley got married some years ago, a hotel she longs to “return to”.

This book is a standing testament to the incredible evolution of hotels the country has witnessed. It shows travellers the vast options they can choose from: be it Rajasthan’s converted palaces and forts, Varanasi’s royal and Hyderabad’s Nizami heritages, exotic and serene beach locales in Goa and the Andamans, an experience on a houseboat, or even pop-art-filled city boutiques, among a host of other options. No two Indian hotels are alike and this coffee-table wonder just about scratches the surface of our vast and diverse hospitality industry (and does a great job at that)


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