Let me preface this review by saying that we very rarely stay in extravagant places when we travel. Up until India, the fanciest place we'd stayed was a three and a half star hotel in Thailand. However, when I planned our trip to Nepal and India I decided for once we were going to splurge with two days at a luxurious boutique hotel in Delhi called the The Manor. I think some sort of premonition guided me to this decision, because after two weeks of trekking, rafting, a major earthquake, and the chaos of driving around India trying to get in as many sights as possible, The Manor was an extremely welcome end to our trip. This experience was not only relaxing, but also a slightly nerve racking adventure at times because heck - we don't know much about the protocols and expectations of fancy people in fancy places!
After bidding farewell to Sarah (a friend who'd been traveling with us) at the metro in Delhi, we hit the street and hailed a motor rickshaw to take us to The Manor. I had the address written down and of course our driver confidently indicated that he knew where to take us, but about ten minutes later he was already pulling over to ask other drivers where to go. The Manor ended up being a tricky place to find, but after wandering through neighborhoods and asking directions numerous times, we finally arrived at a walled in compound with a small sign next to the gate stating that his was indeed The Manor. Situation in a quiet neighborhood it looked pretty unassuming from the outside, but that quickly changed as we were ushered from the dusty street into the cobbled courtyard and gazed upon the sleek simplistic beauty of The Manor. My first thoughts were I can't wait to take pictures of this place! followed by We look WAY too trashy to be staying here! I bet it's been awhile since they've had a guest arrive via rickshaw. Silently cringing we hauled our backpacks into the foyer and tried not to think about how sweaty and disheveled we were. A staff member led us to our room and notified us that someone would bring us beverages shortly. As soon as he closed the door we began exclaiming about how amazing everything looked, how polite the staff were, how huge the shower was, how excited we were to eat the included breakfast and so forth. There are plenty of people out there who would expect nothing less than what The Manor provided, but for us it was an exotic and thrilling experience, and we were extremely stoked to drink our complimentary fresh pineapple juice which arrived shortly thereafter.
The next day we got up early and headed down to the dining room for breakfast. This was not the standard continental or serve yourself buffet breakfast. Oh no. This was a seated by staff, make choices from a menu sort of breakfast. And what lovely choices there were. We had tea, fruit, croissants, muffins, toast, and omelets. Part way through our feast this girl came in and only made like two selections off the menu. She exposed us for the starving backpackers we were, and we suddenly began to feel a bit self conscious and started to wonder if we'd been confused in thinking that everything on the breakfast menu was available to us. But you know how it goes with included breakfasts - you gotta eat as much as you can so that you can skip cashing out on lunch and maybe even dinner depending on how good a job you did at breakfast.
Anyways, apparently our stay was to be all about food, because that evening we decided to make our second splurge and dine at their famous restaurant: The Indian Accent. And I do actually mean famous. The Indian Accent is the only restaurant in India to be featured in the World's 50 Best Restaurants 2015 and it's chef, Manish Mehrotra, has been called the most exciting modern Indian chef in the world today. We felt very posh calling from our room to make a 7:00 PM reservation, but we had our doubts about the whole thing for one reason - we didn't have any clothes worthy of dinner at such an elegant place. Justin had a pair of dress pants and dress shirt for some stuff he'd been doing at a hospital in Nepal before we started our trip. That was good except for the fact that they were both pretty wrinkled. I spritzed them with water and hung them up in the bathroom while we showered, hoping to steam the wrinkles out. You may wonder why we didn't just iron them, but the room didn't have an iron as presumably guests staying in a place like that don't do such mundane tasks themselves! I'm sure we could have just called the front desk and told them we needed some things ironed, but we were afraid we'd get charged a nice little fee to do so. Even in the lap of luxury our budget travel instincts can't be completely quelled! Anyways, the wrinkles did hang out pretty good so he ended up not looking too shabby, but it's painful for me to admit to what I wore. The best outfit I could come up with was my black Patagonia long underwear pants paired with a simple black top and some jewelry I'd bought in a market a few days back. Dining at a world class restaurant in long underwear... it's so horrifying that it's comical. We tried to act like we belonged, but I doubt we fooled anyone. However, the shame was more than worth the experience. Never have we been served so attentively or eaten such beautiful food. Our chairs were pulled out, the napkins placed in our laps, the drinks poured for us and refilled the instant they got low. When our food came Justin started to reach for the serving spoon and was gently reprimanded by the waitress who quickly took the spoon saying, "Allow me to serve you". We thought that was just for the initial helping, but as soon as our plates were empty a waiter appeared to portion out the last of our entrees. I honestly can't even remember what we ordered because the names and ingredients were so complex, but both dishes were divine and for dessert we had date sticky cake still hot from the oven, swimming in homemade ice cream. When we finished we were presented with a tray of light sweets to accompany our check. It's like when they give you mints with your check at Olive Garden, except this was spiced nuts and honey nut confections topped with edible rose petals. You know you're living the high life when you find yourself eating rose petals!
After our amazing dinner we headed to our room and prepped for our fight home the next morning. Almost all of our clothes were in desperate need of washing and so we decided to do a little laundry in the bathroom sink. And so as you can see our stay in luxury was peppered with irony: backpackers in five star accommodations, world class dining and long underwear, staff ready to wait on guests hand and foot and bathroom sink clothes washing sessions. But that's the way we like things. A bit of adventure mixed with a touch of humor leading to some good stories. And if you're ever in Delhi and have the ability to do so, we highly recommend at least having dinner at The Indian Accent. We promise it will be something you'll never forget, even if you don't go in mildly wrinkled clothes and long underwear.