The Imperial Hotel has seen New Delhi become what it is today. It is such an omnipresent part of the city that regulars can't imagine going to some other hotel. The newly crafted Imperial Spa gives another reason to travellers to book themselves at this royal hotel...
By: Soumya Jain
Posted on: April 10, 2011
The Imperial Hotel has seen New Delhi become what it is today. It is such an omnipresent part of the city that the regulars can’t imagine going to some other hotel. The newly crafted Imperial Spa gives another reason to travellers to book themselves at this royal hotel…
Nobody knows grandeur better than Imperial Hotel, which is located at the centre of the capital of India, Delhi. The hotel, whose foundation was laid along with New Delhi’s 100 years back, has memories of the coronation of King George V, India’s independence, partition and a lot more. There is a lot of evidence on its’ walls through out the hotel.
When The Imperial opened its doors in the 1930s, India was almost on the last rung to gaining independence. At that time, there was little space in New Delhi where Indians and British could meet to discuss important matters. But The Imperial provided a venue where Pandit Nehru, Mahatama Gandhi, Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Lord Mountbatten would meet to engage in political discourse.
The Imperial has been undergoing massive restoration for sometime now. But its original charm is still intact. You don’t feel intimidated by large swanky spaces as you enter the hotel lobby. Instead, you feel oddly home with camaraderie in the air.
A part of the new renovations include the launch of their beautiful spa called, of course, The Imperial Spa.
Walking towards the back of the hotel, I noticed a small structure with a glass roof. That’s the first look of the new spa. Reach the glass doors and peer inside, there is a striking winding marble staircase going downstairs. My curiosity was piqued!
Walking down the staircase, you reach the spa reception where two smiling young ladies will welcome you with hands joined in the traditional Namaskar. The reception is bathed with bright sunlight filtering in through the glass roof. There is a rhythmic music of water gushing around the spa. I was instantly at peace…
I was first escorted for a small tour of the huge spa, which is touted to be the largest in the city. I guess it was a smart decision to build the spa in the basement. It allowed them to make use of generous spaces, and kept the temperature very cool – an important feature, especially for the sweltering Delhi summers!
Walking through the corridors, I felt I was in a maze! The spa is designed with Mughal motifs, Moroccan influences and a Sufi ambience. Around the spa, you will found tablets on the wall with Sufi poems inscribed on them.
We started from the changing room which included a stunning hydrotherapy area. Lockers are provided to keep your belongings. Supplemented by steam and sauna cubicles, the changing area was absolutely complete. The relaxation area was again simple, but adorned with some plush and comfortable lounge chairs, some picture books to keep you occupied and beautiful conical lamps with Moroccan influences.
The treatment rooms, ten in all, were spacious and each was designed differently. Some spas boast of 14, 15 and even 20 treatment rooms! But they are actually small rectangular areas. The treatment rooms at Imperial Spa were generously spread with minimal elements to give the impression of an even larger area. The Mughal Couples Suite takes the crown with two massage beds, a double bed to relax, a private Jacuzzi and other normal facilities available. It was simply beautiful! The spa has a separate Ayurveda area with a dedicated Ayurvedic doctor on-board, flown in from Kerala in fact, to give consultations.
Starting with my actual spa journey, I was first led to change into the Imperial dressing gown, which was a very bright red and yellow colour – true to the Indian spirit. After a brief time in the relaxation area, my therapist escorted me to the Jaipur Room – a simple room adorned with Mughal motifs on the facing wall.
Another unique thing about the spa is that you can play your choice of music during the treatment. Each room has four spa music choices from which you can pick a tune which soothes you the most.
After a feet cleansing ritual, I was led to the massage bed for my first treatment – Back Raga. After that I was oblivious to what was happening. I tried to be mentally alert but alas, so good was the treatment that I was just reveling in the soothing music and the hands rubbing my back.
From what I gathered later, the therapist first scrubbed my back with an almond scrub, followed by a massage with hot rose and sandalwood oil. She exactly knew which points to press. I could literally feel the stress knots in the nape of my neck and shoulders travelling through my arms, to the fingertips, tingling my nerve-ends and finally escaping my body. It was a delicious feeling…which I will never forget. It has become my criteria now of judging a good back massage!
While moving around, the therapist was swift and silent – taking care not to make too much noise and disturb me out of my lazy stupor.
Turning around, she started the second treatment – Facial Kriya. After cleaning my face, and relaxing my eyes with two wet cotton swabs, she applied a Grapefruit cleansing scrub. The scrub was soft, not very harsh, just like the gentle strokes of her hands. I quickly lulled into a sleep as she worked on my face, alternating between the scrub, rose water infused toner and her warm and cold hands. I had absolutely no sense of how much time had passed. Finally, after cleaning my face, she stroked my cheeks with chilled, brown coloured gemstones, which she later explained was done to tighten and taut up the facial skin and cool it.
She gently woke me up. My back and face felt extremely soft. I was de-stressed after a long time. And my face looked clean and glowing! The therapist escorted me to the relaxation area again, where a sweet, bubbly girl from the spa served herbal tea and some dry fruits. I must put in a good word for the tea. It was excellent, well-steeped and flavoured with honey (only if you require so). I was left alone to quietly sip tea at leisure and leave whenever I wanted to.
While sipping my tea and trying to evaluate the experience, I realized that the Imperial Spa is an epitome of true luxury. It focuses on its core craft – which is actually relaxing its guests and providing them solutions for lifestyle problems – and not just presenting a pretty picture in front of their eyes.
I walked back towards the hotel in a dazed stupor as civilization finally devoured me again. It was back to ringing phones, waiting emails and endless Delhi traffic. I wish I could go back for a treatment at the Imperial Spa again, but well, it’s only for resident guests of the hotel…
Coordinates: The Imperial, Janpath, New Delhi – 110001, India
Ph: (91-11) 23341234, 41501234