Kohenur’s closest local competition in the luxury level is its classical elder sister, the ITC Kakatiya—leaving Kohenur to play the more vivacious, contemporary, cosmopolitan youngster, though with her roots firmly at home. However, that need to carve out a distinct identity creates an Indian luxury hotel that unapologetically embraces modernity. Take the 1,200 sq ft vertical garden wall across the courtyard from the startlingly futuristic sandstone-hued club wing, tapered like a gemstone awaiting setting, smoothed around the corners like the weather-worn rocks around Durgam lake. This is architectural boldfacing, where the Kakatiya is copperplate cursive. It is also good ecological design, reducing heat gain and maximising heat loss from concrete.

Of an evening, the coruscating golden brilliance of its arrayed windows might blind you to its solid green credentials—but a LEED Platinum rating is only to be expected, despite the many LEDs. Solar panels, water recycling, dimmers—everyone does. Kohenur bottles its own drinking water to cut out plastic, middlemen and transportation miles. Brand Shunyaqua is coming to guestrooms too shortly, replacing the ubiquitous mineral water bottles. ‘Forgotten’ grains are already enlisted across menus. It’s a rare talent, acknowledging and erasing the travel industry’s ecological footprint.

Tower room at the ITC Kohenur
Tower room at the ITC Kohenur

Another is privileging a sense of place in the era of cookie-cutter hotel rooms, the same furniture in a different city each jetsetting night. Kohenur establishes it with a thousand Laad Bazar bangles cascaded over the reception desk with its fruity Karachi Bakery-style welcome cookies, the bidri-patterned pillars of the main Golconda Pavilion restaurant, the jamuni welcome drink at Dum Pukht Begum’s. Local wines and brews stock the sideboard in guestrooms. This celebration of living tradition extends to city excursions designed along shopping, food, Qutb Shahi and Nizami trails, plus workshops showcasing local culinary styles, emerging artists and artisanal products in their current avatars.

A sumptuous breakfast spread
A sumptuous breakfast spread

Yet, its Fabelle truffles, microgreens sprinkles, diamond-burst chandeliers and faux-peacock throne selfie spot reassures the HITEC City visitor that the Kohenur is not just resting on traditional laurels. In the room, iPads access the mood lighting, the room service menu, the television, the temperature. Business-ready meeting spaces are everywhere. The biggest win, though, is size: the Kohenur manages to stake out the luxury of space with the largest room sizes per category locally, with most rooms boasting a balcony or at least a lovely view of Durgam Lake, with Golconda Fort shining in the distance. F&B is priced smart smart too—reasonable, not inflated—though room tariffs advertise guestroom grandeurs.

Yes, the Kohenur lives up to its Persian namesake for size. The leitmotif of jewels runs through the property in other ways too. The Peacock Bar’s glass-mosaic ceiling art and blue marble counter are echoed in the mosaic bathroom tiles and the presidential suite’s bath and bar areas. Floors and walls, cushions and carpets, and panelling everywhere echo the lines of a radiant-cut diamond. Jewel tones of purple and aquamarine upholster both guestrooms and meeting spaces scattered throughout the property. The banquet wing sees Nizami jewellery recreated as artwork to flank the pillar-less ballroom.

All-day dining at ITC Kohenur's Golconda Pavilion
All-day dining at ITC Kohenur’s Golconda Pavilion

The flavour of home is a priceless treat, so a Local Love menu takes pride of place at Golconda Pavilion—when the local families are lining up for the Andhra rasam at midday in midsummer, over the ice creams and fun international salad bar (an excellent beet and ashen goat cheese with wild berries to a cold, coal-black charcoal chicken), you know they have a good thing going with their delicious haleem, tamalapaaku bajjilu (betel leaf fritters), pappu charu (homestyle dal soup), ivy gourd with peanuts and chillies (both favourite flavourings hereabouts), beerakaya paalu korma (milky ridge gourd stew), chapala vankaya koora (fish curry with brinjals), prawns with gongura (Indian sorrel) and dossakai mamsam (lamb with ‘lemon melon’)—and excellent homemade curd. You could be summer-holidaying at your favourite aunt’s.

Speaking of, Dum Pukht Begum’s will pull back its purdah soon and kindle its chandeliers on a more hard-won version of local cuisine, the fiercely protected and poetically named dishes of genteel homes, such as the beet-stuffed seb zamini (‘ground apple’) patties and dakhni chowgra, a quartet of seasonal greens, which currently include fenugreek and sorrel. The purple-and-white dining room is reminiscent of a local aristocrat’s apartment—redolent of hospitality that begins at home. Here, luxury smacks of authenticity. To wit, be warned the minty Meenakshi paan at the end makes no concessions to amateurs.

Experience authentic Oriental cuisine at Yi Jing
Experience authentic Oriental cuisine at Yi Jing

Luxury acquires a more playful flavour at the crowd-pleaser Chinese restaurant, Yi Jing. The menu is authentic, yet family friendly, with a contemporary cleverness. Walls of reclaimed railway-sleeper wood and old door jambs lining the lobby, partitions accented with old enamelled colanders and trolley wheels. Good old-fashioned regional Chinese cooking lends itself to a soupçon of dinner drama where the chef twirls out his hand-pulled noodles in front of the duck oven hanging from a crane hook. Yes, they do the Beijing duck—and much local seafood alongside the sea bass and colourful infused tobiko roe. They wrap char siu chicken in a pretty pastry of swan feathers instead of basic bao. Sake and edamame dumplings mock up an undoctored pod. Dessert is delightful—anise caramel custard with Sichuan pepper streusel, an aggressively toasted pecan, a miniature salted caramel meringue, a tangy pane of aam papad, umami porcini ice cream, typifying the balance of five flavours in a traditional Chinese dish. In the ITC tradition, this new brand shows excellent promise for good meals.

By autumn, Italian dinners at Ottimo and its adjacent Skypoint (premium) bar and cigar lounge will look to steal the spotlight. But luxury of choice is already evident at the Peacock Bar—indoors and outdoors; lounge seating or barstools; small plates of the kokum-marinated karimeen fry and steamed for the single shot-downer or cosy couple, or more ample portions for the business-suit bunch closing the deal over a drink; and eatery-themed cocktail ‘stories’ their own advertorial. It is as true of the Golconda Pavilion’s array of breakfast pancake batters and matching butters (pistachio, jaggery, coconut cream), or the in-room dining options for vegetarian or even saatvik diners, locavores, sustainable pescatarians, comfort (bowl) cravers and parents of healthy-eating youngsters.

Health is a particularly highlighted luxury at Kohenur. The spa spread over three floors is an expected service, perhaps. Less expected is the Wellness category offering—vitamin C-infused showers, ‘Swasthya’-minded minibar and bedtime beverages, and a gimmicky radiation-cancelling to offset the device-ready desks.

Yes, the Kohenur is a gem. And if there are still aspects of a diamond in the rough, it nevertheless leaves no doubt of its determination to be rare and precious.

The Information

Location: In Madhapur, HITEC City, just around the corner from Jubilee Hills; 20 mins from Hyderabad airport

Accommodation: 101 executive club rooms, 78 tower rooms, 43 ITC One rooms, 13 wellness rooms, 4 deluxe suites, 3 luxury suites, 1 presidential suite, 1 grand presidential suite, 19 one-bedroom and 8 two-bedroom serviced apartments

Tariff: 17,000 (club), 20,000 (tower), 22,000 (wellness), 27,000 (ITC One), 30,000 (deluxe suite), 35,000 (luxury suite), 2,50,000 (presidential suite), 3,50,000 (grand presidential suite), 30,000 (one-bedroom apartment) and 35,000 (two-bedroom apartment)

Contact: +91-40-67660101; itchotels.in