The Imperial, New Delhi

Review of The Imperial, New Delhi review by Varun Sharma

Centrally located, just a stone’s throw away from India Gate, a palm tree-lined drive leads to The Imperial New Delhi, one of India’s most historic properties. Opened in 1931 and set in eight acres of lush, landscaped gardens, the property offers 192 rooms and 43 suites all referencing a colonial, Victorian and Art Deco heritage. The property still has a direct link with a colonial past and the last days of the Raj – albeit through its distinct architecture.

An urban oasis from the streets of this dusty city, the property also features eight restaurants, lounges, bars and a pastry shop and a magnificent 1,115 square metre (12,000 square foot) Imperial Spa, Salon, Health and Racquet Club with an outdoor swimming pool, fully equipped gym and a chic shopping arcade. The property also showcases a 5,000-piece art and vintage photo collection, arranged over its hallways.

The Imperial is featured on the list of The Best Luxury Hotels in Agra and New Delhi

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The hotel is centrally located on Janpath, one of the main roads in New Delhi. From here it is easy to get around the city. The Imperial, New Delhi is situated between the districts of Old and New Delhi, making it perfect for shopping, business and for hitting the tourist sites. Close to Connaught Place and for those with an interest in colonial history in particular, The Imperial, New Delhi is definitely the place to stay.

Lutyens’ Rashtrapati Bhavan – official residence of the President of India - is a few minutes’ drive away and the Central Cottage Industries Emporium, full of authentic handloom and handicraft products, is opposite. 

Indira Gandhi International Airport is just 22 kilometres (14 miles away), a 30-minute journey time by limousine – on a good day. New Delhi’s main railway station is three kilometres (1.8 miles) away, 15 minutes by road. From here, many Indian adventures can begin – including that to Agra and the magnificent Taj Mahal. 

Read the City Guide to Agra



Each of the 192 rooms and 43 suites have their own personality and design style, with Imperial, Heritage and Art Deco influenced themes. There are marble bathrooms with fittings by Cesame, luxury Fragonard toiletries, linen sheets from Porthault, France, coffee/tea makers, mineral water and fresh fruit, and multi-channel televisions and DVD players.  Guest accommodation looks out over an internal atrium or the preferred view over verdant gardens. 

The Art Deco rooms have a more contemporary feel with clean sharp lines, no fuss and marble baths. The Imperial rooms meanwhile slip back in time to a neo-classical influence with the Heritage rooms more in tune with the Raj with heavy dark wood furnishings and elaborate marble flooring. 

When we move up the accommodation scale, the Luxury Suites are, as their name might suggest, some of the most luxurious in New Delhi. Features include a huge king-sized four poster mahogany bed with fabric canopy and Royal Ultra plush pillow top mattress with Bulgari toiletries and Bang & Olufsen televisions. The rooms have higher ceilings so feel even more spacious and elegant and enjoy separate living areas, guest cloakrooms, dressing rooms and dressers. Views look out over the rear gardens. 

The Royal Imperial Suite also features a master bedroom with a four-poster canopy bed but this time, the feel is more Asian in design yet still majestic with even a four posted marble bath in the en-suite. This enormous space has a double height marble entrance hall with floor to ceiling windows, a period living room with huge picture windows letting in the light, in turn enhanced by beautiful crystal chandeliers. The elegant mahogany dining table seats eight people and has a butler pantry equipped with a Gaggenau. There is also a booklined study, filled with antiques and artworks by Prince Alexis Saltykoff – a nineteenth century Russian artist. The suite can be enlarged by connecting with a Heritage Room.

The Imperial, New Delhi also offers a special facility for single females travelling alone called The Eliza Experience. Female guests are allocated rooms in a “Single Lady Corridor” with CCTV surveillance, allocated service staff with telephone call screening and on request, can ask for a special airport pick up service with an accompanying female member of staff. There is a king-sized bed with special linens, a specially designed bath robe and upholstery in shades of pink offset with beige. Amenities include a manicure set, a selection of women’s magazines, special flower arrangements on request, a Ladies Essentials Kit, and a fresh fruit platter. 

There are also rooms for guests with disabilities.

Service & Facilities


The Imperial Spa, sited in the grounds of the property, is a unique sanctuary designed over a sprawling 1,115 square metres (12,000 square feet) of cool marble and wood, embellished with authentic Indian art to lift both spirit and mind. The Spa offers a dynamic client centred philosophy, rooted in an awareness of the value of a balanced approach for future wellness. 

With Balinese, Thai and Sports Remedial massages, plus bespoke Savassana Detoxifying wraps and treatments for men, The Spa also offers a Moghul Suite ritual for couples and the Spa’s own signature therapies using their proprietary 100% organic product brand SUFI. Traditional Ayurvedic therapies, doctors’ consultations, and spa cuisine are also offered.  The Spa also offers Natura Bissé.

For those who want to look their best, there is also The Imperial Salon, with high performance Kerastase hair care and a beauty zone for everything from Indian head massages to a ladies SUFI room for signature massages and body treatments.

A generous outdoor swimming pool is nestled in the shaded grounds which are dotted with Royal Palms. Surrounded by Art Deco balustrades with sun loungers and parasols, deep in the heart of the gardens, the pool is for resident guests’ use only. 

The Health & Racquet Club is located close to the pool and provides a well-equipped fitness centre for those who want to keep fit when travelling. There is also a yoga studio with personalised meditation sessions available.

At The Imperial Boutique, guests may browse the hotel’s own merchandise with a variety of items available such as leather accessories, Pashminas, candles, perfumes and other luxury products. The Imperial Book Shop houses a collection of best-selling authors and eminent international magazines. La Baguette – The Pastry Shop – located by the Royal Ballroom and 1911, offers a range of gateaux, breads, traditional quiche, puffs, sweet and savoury pies, chocolate and teatime treats for the sweet-toothed connoisseur.



For those who knows the work of Sir Edwin Lutyens – which includes London’s Cenotaph and for numerous War Memorials across the Commonwealth – the exterior of The Imperial New Delhi will be immediately recognisable. It was not in fact Lutyens who built the property but a close colleague of his. Yet, The Imperial New Delhi follows his vision and was designed to be the most luxurious hotel in his capital city’s masterplan – the jewel in the crown. It was placed on the second most important boulevard of the nation, the prestigious Queensway now called Janpath, the grandest being Kingsway now known as Rajpath.

The stark white façade belies the eclectic style within, pulling in influences from a Victorian colonial past mixed with Art Deco and Indian influences. The hotel has kept its historic feel whilst subtly including all those modern and tech touches we require today. The expected grandeur of marble floors, teak and rattan furniture, imposing portraits and glittering chandeliers mark the public areas and it was rightly named Imperial by Lady Willingdon who not only chose the name but also conferred its lion insignia on it.

It must be something of a heroic juggling act to position this luxury hotel today and retain this blockbuster history without becoming something of a museum, especially as this relatively young country is racing ahead and forging its own future. This amazing property seems to have found a middle ground, its rightful place in the new order and to have done it with quite some style. 

Restaurants & Bars


With historic bars dating back to the Raj and authentic flavours from across the globe, all under one roof, The Imperial, New Delhi offers eight restaurants, lounges and bars in addition to a pastry shop, La Baguette, based in the property’s lobby.

The 1911 Restaurant pays a tribute to the historic milestone that led to the emergence of New Delhi as a seat of power and the national capital of India. The menu and uniformed service is a reflection of Imperial India with the walls adorned with original views and photographs of Delhi Durbar and antiques dating back to the Raj. 

Nostalgia at 1911 Brasserie is a set up for evenings, revisiting a classic European menu in this old-world setting. It was christened in 2011 as a nod to 100 years of Delhi with a selection of classic western dishes. Traditional recipes are flambeéd with cognac on a gueridon trolly in front of diners under the gaze of black and white portraits of Hollywood heroes to a backdrop of piano music.

By way of contrast, The Spice Route, the hotel’s south-east Asian restaurant, has been designed to reflect the journey of spices from the Malabar Coast in Kerala through Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Indonesia to Thailand and Vietnam. Designed by Rajeev Sethi, The Spice Route is an architectural triumph that offers a unique dining experience in a beautiful, handcrafted setting. The restaurant took seven years in the making and is completely hand painted with vegetable and flower dyes by mural painters brought in especially from a temple in Guruvayur in Kerala with a tradition dating back 3,000 years. The central courtyard transports diners to Southeast Asia with traditional Thai sculptures from Chiang Mai, a serene water feature and a traditional Khantok seating for six under an Oriental pagoda.

The Imperial’s award-winning Italian restaurant San Gimignano takes inspiration from the Italian Tuscan city, offering premium Italian cuisine blending the delicate flavours of ingredients procured both locally and imported from Italy to include the very best balsamic vinegars, cheeses, pasta, risotto rice and olive oils, accompanied by a wide range of Italian wines and grappa. The restaurant also offers alfresco dining in a beautiful courtyard setting.

Daniell’s Tavern traces the unrivalled scenery and architecture of ancient Hindustan with a menu that revisits India from the eyes of Thomas and William Daniell, the landscape artists assisting the British empire in 1786. There is a live kitchen preparing dishes from all over the Indian regions visited by the Daniells.

For Afternoon Tea, head to The Atrium to enjoy a perfect cup of tea with handpicked tea varieties along with a selection of coffee brews and long, indulgent summer drinks for refreshing afternoons.

With a horseshoe styled counter, soft Montana leather chairs, period portraiture, stained glass roof and wood panelling, The 1911 Bar offers over 500 varieties of beverage with lounge and club music as background. It has two private rooms – the Hardinge Room and the Lutyens & Baker Room. The walls of the Hardinge Room are adorned with pictures of uniforms of various battalions dating to the British Raj and as a centrepiece, a displayed Victoria Cross, the highest medal for gallantry for the British Army, the one and only existing in the city.

Patiala Peg, The Royal Bar, is one of the most popular in the city. As the legend goes, the Bar commemorates a thrilling tent pegging encounter in the early 1900s between a team of the Maharaja of Patiala and that of the Viceroy. The Bar celebrates that moment with a collection of photographs of the Maharaja during the Second World War. Living up to its name, the bar indicates a larger measure of 75 millilitre pegs instead of the usual 60 millilitre ones.


The imperial New Delhi is committed towards adopting environmentally friendly practices to ensure that they function as a responsible organisation. They believe in changing for a better tomorrow. Carrying forward efforts to recycle and reduce plastic usage, they are also minimising water wastage and energy consumption across the hotel. 

What We Love

  • The Imperial New Delhi is a superb, historic, grande dame property – which, for decades, has been the Indian capital’s most prestigious hotel address. Yes, there are still aspects of colonialism and the “Raj” on show – but it is respectful and certainly not overbearing
  • The hotel is located in a wonderful part of a difficult city. India – even the capital – is one of wild contrast – from outrageous luxury to abject poverty. But The Imperial is a safe oasis … an ideal base for sightseeing, business or even just to relax
  • The Imperial Spa is sizeable and contemporary, but it feels truly Indian. The Spa’s look, philosophy, treatments, smell and sense of peace & calm make it an ideal location to while away any spare hours you may have … 

    Varun Sharma

What They Love

  • The magnificent art deco design and the unmatched connection with pre-independence era. The beautifully manicured lawns, the pillared verandahs, dining rooms, tea lounges, The Royal Ballroom straight from the era of Lords and Ladies, verdant gardens and the stunning corridors have played host to some celebrated encounters between the British and Indian aristocracy and gentry. The Imperial exudes an inimitable ‘class’, making the hotel at par with any other chain hotel.   
  • Bringing home a true Indian experience at The Imperial, for numerous years we have been folding hands in Namaskar to welcome our guests. This has now become a global greeting form which exudes humility and care during the hard-hitting pandemic. Further we have been celebrating all Indian festivals to keep the guests abreast with the Indian culture. It also brings in immense positive energy amongst guests and adds to the Imperial experience.
  • Our commitment to adopt environment-friendly practices to ensure that we function as a responsible organization. We believe in changing for a better tomorrow and it all starts with us. Carrying forward our efforts to recycle and reduce plastic usage, we are also minimising water wastage and energy consumption across the hotel.

    Mr. Vijay Wanchoo
    Senior Executive Vice President & General Manager
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