My All-time Favourite Monsoon Retreats
There's something about the monsoons that have always had the poets very inspired. And while the city's an unbelievable mess if you're trying to dodge potholed roads, pavements crowded with hawkers and pedestrians or just the traffic that's moving at a snail's pace, there are some places that immediately take you right back to that inspiring, sweet spot like the poets, even in the urban jungle.
As a professional swimmer, you need to swim all year round to keep up with your fitness routine. So rain, hail or sunshine, we'd have to be in the pool everyday swimming that mandatory 15 kms; anything except if it thundered, really, when the coach would reluctantly agree to let us off because of the imminent risk of electrocution. And trust me this gives you an even deeper appreciation for how pretty the rain looks - out there!
So here's a list of some of my favorite monsoon retreats:
1. The Palladium Hotel, Mumbai
One of my favorite monsoon retreats in Mumbai is the Palladium Hotel, with its floor to ceiling windows overlooking the city, Mahalaxmi Race Course and the Arabian Sea. The hotel's plush contemporary interiors with opulent chandeliers, marble and traditional mosaic motifs, blend with rich velvets and dramatic sculptures, to create a warm ambience. It's the perfect setting to sit back with your cup of espresso and that special someone and watch the monsoon clouds break the sweltering heat and wash the city clean. If you're getting restless, you can walk down to the luxurious High Street Phoenix Mall, watch a movie, shop for a range of labels, relish a delicious meal or just lie back in your room and enjoy the view!
Must Try: The Tiger Tear Maki at the award-winning Japanese restaurant Yuuka is one of Chef Ting's signature dishes.
This hotel was a family favourite for meals on special occasions, throughout the years that I trained in Bangalore. I often choose this hotel now on my visits to the city because of its proximity to the Bangalore Golf Course. With my birthday in August, we'd sometimes have rain accompanying a lavish meal here, and that's a special memory. An elegant manor built during the Raj; the hotel's colonial architecture, elegant colonnades and balustrades, fluted pillars, Georgian windows and Queen Anne furniture create a charming old world ambience. The suites in the new wing open on to a private garden that makes for the perfect place to enjoy the rains.
Must Try: Dakshin, the hotel's South Indian restaurant offers home cooked delicacies from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. The Appams are an absolute must-try!
3. The Taj Mansingh, Delhi
Watch the rain come down on your window pane as you sit back and admire the most stately views in the country - the broad boulevards and leafy splendour created by Delhi's chief architect, Edwin Lutyens. Located right next to the seat of the government, the city's diplomatic corps and business district, the Taj Mansingh is a favourite with many visiting dignitaries and heads of state. The unmistakable air of quiet, restrained luxury as well as the old-world grace and charm blend beautifully to create the perfect urban retreat.
Must Try: The Grill Room Restaurant located on the hotel's rooftop serves Confit Lamb Shank, which is cooked for up to 10 hours, and is one of their signature dishes. As you savour your meal, enjoy the panoramic views of New Delhi's shimmering skyline.
4. The Tree House, Jaipur
If you're looking for a romantic luxury getaway, with a jungle-like feel and beautiful views, this is your spot. 20 luxury cottages and 9 luxury rooms built on top of trees, with branches running through the rooms, the Tree House is one of the most unique experiences I've had so far. 40 kms from the Delhi airport, this eco-friendly resort, is situated in the foothills of Syari Valley, with views of the majestic Aravallis.
Must Try: There is a multi-cuisine restaurant where you can enjoy your meals. The resort offers a host of activities including elephant and camel treks, safaris into the jungle, and has a pool and spa on-site. Book in advance!