I think our roof-top pool is the only one in the city with views quite like it…
When we found this location, just behind the huge colonial Army and Navy stores, immediately we thought: “if we’re going to have a hotel let’s have it here.” The views from the upper floors are fabulous. You look down upon the Victoria Memorial in all its marble splendour and the Maidan, the largest urban park in Asia, where people stroll and play cricket in the green expanse. I think our roof-top pool is the only one in the city with views quite like it.
It took us almost seven years to design. The nine suites are furnished with four-poster beds, chandeliers and intricate design details such as our signature Glenburn tea motif; two leaves and a bud embroidered onto the bed covers and camellia flowers block printed on the quilt. In the drawing room we have this bespoke Hindustan wallpaper designed in Paris. We picked every panel so there isn’t a single repeat in the entire room. It’s been a mad, obsessive journey.
We have an English chef who’s lived here for 20 years and absolutely loves the local ingredients. He’s created an eight-course tasting menu with each course telling a story about the city. One of the dishes is a deconstructed biryani in a velouté sauce made from rice and tender lamb that’s cooked overnight and literally melts away. This is accompanied by a quail’s egg with potato, two ingredients added by the King of Lucknow when he was exiled to Kolkata in 1856. Then we have a pulled duck shinghara (like a Bengali samosa) with pineapple chutney. Oh, and of course a soft shell crab dish. You’ll soon learn that Bengali’s just love their food.
My top tip for anyone visiting would be to just walk the streets. We do a series of walking tours that take you through the city, one that goes through the colonial square where Kolkata really began as a fort. Sometimes we stop for a very elegant tea in the gardens of St. John’s Church. Or we go for lunch at a friend’s house for a homecooked Bengali meal. He’s an art collector and has this beautiful flat overlooking all the sights with walls covered in Bengali art. Then we end the day with a boat cruise on the river.
When I was first introduced to the city, the more I started to explore, the more I fell in love with the architecture, the food and the fact you could just walk the streets and interact with the many interesting local people. I hope for all my guests to fall in love in the same way I did.