The view from the window of my room at The Leela Palace Chennai is of Elliot’s Beach. To the left sit the residences of the local fishermen community. In the fore sits a small bridge, broken in places, intact in others. I am told that the broken bridge is a poignant remnant of the devastating tsunami that hit the shores of Chennai in 2004. The hotel was built much later, in 2013.
I am not the kind of wax poetic about city hotels. I find them lacking character; they often have soulless rooms housed in dull buildings. The Leela Palace Chennai is nothing like your regular city hotel, though it does sit in a pretty popular location of the city; equidistant to tourist spots but thankfully away from chaos of the city. At The Leela Palace Chennai, the details truly are paid attention to. The corridors, the rooms are peppered with carefully curated art pieces. A surrealist painting finds a home next to a tasteful floral decoration, while a vibrant art installation about blurring gender boundaries takes centre stage right around the corner.
The brand’s ethos shine at every hotel of The Leela group. Each of their properties has intricate details inspired by the city it is in. So while The Leela Palace Jaipur features tikri and araish work, The Leela Palace Chennai imbues the local Chettinad architecture. At the entrance, the water feature, catches the guests’ attention. But it is during the evening that it truly comes alive, when musicians play folk tunes surrounded candles the flames of which sway in the gentle sultry breeze.
In the evening of my arrival, I attended the The Icons Of India by The Leela concert. A soiree for a select few, this one had Sarod maestros Amaan and Ayaan Ali Bangash performing to a rapt audience. The Icons of India initiative deserves a mention here- The Leela group has collaborated with artists and achievers from across the board – giving guests access to the prowess of performers, sports people and Nobel laureates.
Staying In The Moment
The rooms at The Leela Palace Chennai are spacious and opulent, the literal definition of quiet luxury. Understated and tasteful, the room has several spots to put your feet up, if you’re not ready for bed yet. I spent a lot of time staring out of the window at the chessboard porch and then the sea. The Leela Palace Chennai is also the place that the Chennai Super Kings team tends to stay at, a testimony to the hotel’s offerings and one that bears a mention. Of course, I enthusiastically walked around hoping to bump into a player or two. But I should have reined in the excitement, they tend to confine them selves to the top floors of the hotel, which has exclusive suites, members-only lounges and access to a carefully curated menu at any time of the day.
Dining With The Stars
The dining options at The Leela Palace Chennai are designed to offer exquisite and private experiences. Both China XO and Jamavar boast of a celebrity clientele so while the food definitely has to be top notch, privacy is also important. The menu at both of these restaurants is extensive, giving a patrons a chance to experience delicious food in setting fit for royalty. At Jamavar, the fare is Indian, taking you on a journey through India – so you will find a delicately spiced Kerala fish curry on the menu sitting right besides the robustly flavoured Raan-e-Jamavaar lamb. We headed here after tucking into the fragrant, delicious cocktails at Library Blu.
At China XO, flavours are the heroes. There’s an outdoor seating area that looks out to the sea, very tempting wine cellars, a tea bar and a dim sum station. Chinese motifs abound here, and the PDRs offer a space for exclusive escapes whether in a personal or professional setting.
The Lobby Lounge is perfect for when you want to catch up for coffee with a friend or colleagues. The open space makes the space warm and friendly, and there’s a gentle hum in the air at all time, which will having you vibing quite quickly. Spectra, the space where breakfast is served, sits adjacent to the Lobby Lounge and is bustling with activity. All dining spaces at The Leela have the option of trying the Aujasya menu- this is their wellness offering- and every single thing I tried from this menu was delicious and come with an added feel-good factor.
The Leela Palace Chennai also has a outdoor pool for when you want to splash about and a fitness centre for when you want to work up a sweat. As I was stepping out, I saw flower girls lining up, ready for the wedding march. Safe to say, the hotel is one of the favourites for weddings, offering spacious ballrooms and delectable menus.
I am going to be back here, this time for longer.
Meanwhile, I also went to Bengaluru and experienced a city hotel with a difference. Read about it here.