The iconic image of an Indian honeymoon is one taken in the backdrop of the Taj Mahal, the world's most magnificent monument of love. But there's more to India than the Taj.
India has always been on every serious traveler's bucket list. Thousands of couples from around the world are now discovering romance in the royal palaces of Rajasthan, lush rainforests of Corbett, paradisical peaks of Ladakh, and serene backwaters of Kerala.
New Delhi, the capital of India, is not merely a gateway to these exotic honeymoon destinations but a fascinating metropolis with ancient Hindu temples, grand Mughal tombs, and color everywhere. We were delighted when Dusit Devarana, Delhi's most exclusive 50 room boutique hotel, invited us to kick off our Indian honeymoon with a few days on their beautiful property.
Dusit Devarana is only ten minutes from Indira Gandhi International Airport and once we passed through its gates off the National Highway, we entered a secluded oasis of calm, comfort and luxury. We had arrived at the cusp of summer and monsoon, dark clouds painted the sky and the air was heavy with humidity but as drove in, low hanging trees crowding the driveway, there was a noticeable drop in temperature and a cool breeze whispered around us.
The modern, understated architecture of the hotel wowed us from the start. Descending down the sweeping, curved steps made us feel we were entering a modern cavern which revealed its secrets one step at a time. The lobby opens through giant wooden doors onto a landscape of blue reflecting pools, lovely lawns and a green labyrinth of paths. Soft music wafts from Bose speakers hidden discreetly amongst the shrubs and the blue-green waters ripple in the breeze - perfect for a quiet stroll in Delhi’s most picturesque resort.
Our spacious room had a floor-to-ceiling window with cove seating that blurred the boundary between indoors and outdoors. We left the blinds open all day and night to make the most of the glorious views - trees thick with tropical fruit were within an arm's reach, birds and sparrows hopped on their branches, and reflecting pools lay beyond.
All the rooms have state-of-the-art technology and a complimentary iPad which can be used to control lights, blinds, television and temperature. We could also order room service or book one of a range of Delhi tours offered by the hotel using the iPad. But the trump card for us was the freestanding bowl bath tub we soaked in as soon as we arrived.
The hotel has a multi-cuisine restaurant, Kian, where we had some of the most delicious meals. We loved the ceiling-high metal sculpture of a tree, little sparrows perched along its shoots, which brought nature into the restaurant's plush interiors.
The service was impeccable and intimate, perfect for a candlelit dinner. The staff made excellent recommendations and the chefs themselves came out to make sure the food was to our liking. They even brought out a plate of an exotic summer fruit only found and grown in the northern regions of India.
The restaurant has two chefs - an Indian specializing in Indian and Western cuisine, and a Thai chef for its Asian menu. The result is electrifying both in taste and visual appeal. We loved the delicately flavored Thai dishes and the creamy Indian curries.
Stuart’s favorite was a smoky atlantic black cod served on a bed of rice with apple slivers and a miso reduction. The desserts won me over, especially the rose and saffron flavored kulfi (a dense and luscious Indian version of the popsicle).
When they found out we were on our honeymoon, Dusit Devarana upgraded us to their gorgeous pool access room. The Olympic length pool, the longest among the city’s hotel pools, is a narrow channel hidden among tropical trees and overhanging shrubs. We went for a leisurely swim around midnight, stepping into the pool from the patio outside our room. A full moon shone above us as we floated on the shimmering waters.
Dusit Devarana also has a well-equipped gym and yoga space. After a quick chat with the in-house personal trainer and yoga instructor during a morning stroll convinced us to unroll the mats and break a few poses. Water channels skirt around the yoga pavilion and small lamps are lit in the evenings for a truly spiritual experience.
The most special part of our stay perhaps was participating in a special blessing ceremony for newly weds and honeymooning couples in the on-site temple. The priest sang Sanskrit hymns in a booming baritone as he led a prayer for eternal bliss. Afterwards, he sang prayer songs for the evening aarti and we had a chance to offer flowers and small lamps to Goddess Durga to seek her blessings.
The hotel also has a beautiful spa with a range of ayurvedic and international massages and body treatments. Stuart chose a strong Swedish while I went for a gentle, aromatic massage. There is nothing quite like starting a honeymoon holiday with a massage to enlivens the senses and relax the mind. Stepping into our in-room steam shower after the massage, we agreed neither of us had felt so pampered in all our years of traveling. Dusit Devarana was definitely the perfect start to our Indian honeymoon.