LOTUS-EATING IN THE GARDEN CITY
WORDS VARDHAN KONDVIKAR
PHOTOGRAPHS SAMEER MANGTANI
GREAT FROM Bangalore, Mysore, Chennai
GREAT FOR Escaping the heat
The appeal of a staycation in a five-star hotel is simple: the cool, calm spaces, the whisper of central air-conditioning, the delight of walking back into your room to discover that someone else has tidied up for you and left you a chocolate. The bathtubs, the idea that you can just wrap up in a robe, put on some TV and have food delivered to your bed – and the delicious shiver as you slide your feet between expensive sheets and roll around groaning like dog on a lawn. For a night or two, even in your own city, you can pretend the world doesn’t exist.
But you can go further. It doesn’t have to be just any five-star hotel. It doesn’t have to be just any food served in bed. It doesn’t only have to be that soft bed mounting a counterattack on tired muscles. The Shangri-La hotel, Bengaluru, a new-ish property in the heart of the city, offers a variety of staycation packages, designed for families, couples who need to get away from the home shared with the in-laws, and even foodies. This one, the Sensual Bengaluru package, covers all the bases: it includes, among other things, a 90-minute spa session for one adult at CHI, and a five-course meal for two at one of the four fine-dining restaurants.
The experience is relaxing even to imagine: you walk into the huge lobby, gawking at the chandeliers and intricate metalwork (a hallmark of the Shangri-La group), you enter your room to find a bottle of Moët & Chandon Champagne sweating in anticipation in its ice bucket, and you wait for the welcome-chai trolley to leave so you can prance around in delight. It’s a surprisingly big room: the hotel is built around large spaces and corridors, and extremely airy, with huge windows and outdoor spaces for every restaurant. We’d encourage you to not use the tub (yes, sad, but there is a drought on, so avoid it unless you’re sharing with a friend), but feel free to bounce on the bed, leave the bathroom in a scented post-shower fog, and do a huge deal of nothing at all until it’s time to make difficult choices for dinner. Indian (North and a little South) in the elephant-themed Ssaffron, or Mediterranean at Caprese? Chinese in Shangri-La’s signature Shang Palace, seated after a walk down a long corridor with a lamp-carrying lady, or fun Japanese, with amazing nigiri and green tea ice cream in yataii, with Chef Atsushi Yonaha (who also makes a mean chaat)? Inside, or outside on the terrace with a view over Bangalore at night? Open 24/ 7 is b Cafe, which serves everything from breakfast dim sum to superb pork chops, where you’ll have lunch with the inventive Chef Rounak (try his ice-cream spaghetti!), after your spa treatment at ChI (the aromatherapy massage is excellent). But where do you go for breakfast? The answer is, you don’t. You get it in bed, with all the decadent luxury that implies (and, unless you’re planning something romantic, you should save your champers for this), with a choice of Western or Indian.
The sensible thing to do is to plan your spa treatment for later, just before you check out, so you’re too sleepy to leave claw marks on the floor as you try not to leave. With even Bangalore starting to feel the heat, you’ll be hard-pressed to find excuses for not doing this.