The Imperial New Delhi: The Iconic Luxury Hotel from Pre-Independence Era

Have you ever experienced the luxury of staying in a “Museum Hotel” in India? How about sharing the same table for your evening cup of coffee in a luxurious setup at an upscale hotel, which used to be Mahatma Gandhi’s favorite dining spot? Sounds unfamiliar right? 

Well, The Imperial New Delhi, is an iconic hotel from the pre-independence era, upholding the pride of being the place where India was beginning to write the last chapters of its saga on Independence. Pandit Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi, Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Lord Mountbatten would meet at The Imperial to discuss the partition of India and creation of Pakistan. Being a part of the history in making, The Imperial became the venue for many celebrated and historical moments between the British and Indian aristocracy. Every wall of this legendary hotel became the silent guardians of the endless discussions, negotiations, and emotions.

Designed to be the finest monument in Lutyens’ grand vision of the Capital City’s original master plan, The Imperial was conceptualized in 1934 by Blomfield and inaugurated by Lord Willingdon in 1936. Wrapped in the colonial heritage, The Imperial was a spectator in the making of New Independent India. This historic hotel in the heart of New Delhi is also one of the first amongst the legendary “Four Maidens of the East” that included The Strand hotel in Rangoon, Raffles Hotel in Singapore and the Great Eastern & Oriental in Calcutta. With impeccable décor, high ceilings, royal rooms, and suites, valuable art & painting, Royal Ballroom, famous restaurants & tea lounges, The Imperial is not just one of the luxurious hotels in the capital, rather a place that celebrates poignant history, colonial elegance and rich Indian heritage in a dignified manner. Home to many famous artists, The Imperial is also the repository of art. Each floor of the hotel is dedicated to a legendary artist and the corridors are adorned with the collection of his/her great work of art. The Imperial proudly displays a priceless art collection of the ‘British Art on India.’ Reputed of being called “The Museum Hotel”, The Imperial flaunts the rich collection of etchings, wood engravings, lithographs, aquatints and mezzotints based on sketches of landscapes, architecture, topography and life and times of India. There is literally no area in the hotel where you would not notice the magical influence of period art and décor, unique antique pieces of furniture, paintings and artifacts that take you back to the bygone era of guarded history.The overall ambiance and ornamentation of the hotel are awe-inspiring.

Let me take you to the celebrated corners of this Victorian styled hotel to give you an enduring ‘Imperial Experience’ to live a few moments in royal elegance.

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The ever so fascinating façade of The Imperial stands tall today awash in white along with the royal palms. Also, the lion insignia conferred upon the Hotel by Lady Willingdon herself, tell the tale of its legendary existence.

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The pre-independence conference by eminent political leaders held at The Royal Ballroom at The Imperial.

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There are no thriftier ways of experiencing luxury than at The Imperial New Delhi’s Presidential Suite called The Royal Imperial Suite, once home to Pandit Nehru. The guests who have stayed here included coveted personalities such as Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Prince Albert of Monocco, Kate Winslet and many more eminent names. The entrance to the suite transcends the guest to the old world charm and instantly brings out rich history which is carefully weaved with luxury and beautifully spread out at each corner of this 3000 sq. feet huge apartment like the suite. The picture showcases the suite’s verandah lounge which spans over an area of 675sq.ft and connects the guest to the study and to the living area, offering a stay experience which stays with them forever.

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The famous Gandhi Table at 1911 Restaurant intrigues diners with the fact that this was Mahatma’s favorite dining spot many years back.

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1911 restaurant of The Imperial is the celebration of aesthetics with its sophisticated interiors and cuisine that showcases the ‘melting pot’ culture of Delhi and service that is truly a reflection of Imperial India. It was called The Garden Party before it was re-named as 1911 in the late 1990s. 1911 was the golden year in the history of our country when Delhi was announced as the new capital of India with the coronation ceremony of George V and Queen Mary. The art deco interiors are exquisitely matched with British Raj trivia and the Battalion views, combined with impeccable dining experience and offering cuisines from the world over.

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This is one of the most significant paintings displayed at 1911 restaurant at The Imperial, showcase the Coronation ceremony of King George V and Queen Mary

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The Atrium of 1911 restaurant featuring a spectacular view of the rooms and the high ceilings at The Imperial.

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The guest corridor on the 3rd floor highlighting the walls adorned with paintings and lithographs. One can stroll through these art laden corridors and feel history come alive. The iconic heritage wrapped in the colonial elegance takes one back in time, making a fabulous impression.

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This is another valuable painting of Montage Hindoustan- 70 ft long mural displayed at 1911 and 1911 Bar at The Imperial

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The art deco interiors and the ambiance of 1911 Bar filled with British Raj trivia are matched by an excellent list of brews, single malts and impeccably blended cocktails. The walls in one of the private rooms- Hardinge Room at 1911 Bar are adorned with gallantry awards with pictures of uniforms and attires of various battalions during British Raj.

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The most coveted VICTORIA CROSS, the highest gallantry award in the British Army, the one and only existing in the city.

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The pillared verandah at 1911 restaurant where one can soak in the ambiance filled with the beauty of colonial architecture and antiques while savoring world cuisine.

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500-year-old big clock piece which is still working marvelously, add to the magnificence of The Royal Imperial suite.

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Patiala Peg stands among the most popular bars in Delhi. As the legend goes, the Bar commemorates a thrilling tent pegging encounter that occurred in the early 1900s between the team of the Maharaja of Patiala and the Viceroy’s team. The Bar thus exhibits a remarkable collection of photographs of the Maharaja during the Second World War. Living up to its name, the bar indicates a larger measure of 75 ml pegs instead of the usual 60 ml ones.

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Delhi Durbar procession is another noteworthy painting at The Imperial

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The Spice Route is an architectural marvel that offers a unique dining experience in a distinctively beautiful setting. Proclaimed to be the only-one-of-its-kind, The Spice Route is poetry in design. The Restaurant, that was seven years in the making, is completely hand painted with vegetable and flower dyes by mural painters brought in especially from a temple in Guruvayur in Kerala with a tradition dating back to 3000 years. The renowned South East Asian restaurant mesmerizes all your senses enrapturing you with its sensuous exotica. Designed by Rajeev Sethi, the celebrated cultural czar of India, The Spice Route reflects the journey of spices from the Malabar Coast in Kerala through Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Indonesia to Thailand and Vietnam. The restaurant is an overwhelming visual depiction of the art and culture that also traveled with the spices through these regions, presented in a folk, religious and cultural fantasy of the Orient.

Have you ever been to The Imperial New Delhi?

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10 Replies to “The Imperial New Delhi: The Iconic Luxury Hotel from Pre-Independence Era”

  1. Wow! What a gorgeous place! Such rich history. I would love to stay there and explore everything. I’ve never even heard of a hotel like this, it’s definitely something I would love to try!

  2. Wow the hotel looks wonderful. The architecture and paintings are gorgeous

  3. Wow, the Imperial New Delhi is incredible! I love the look and feel of this place, it seems like you’re stepping back in time. The Gandhi table and the Spice Route are magnificent; I’d love to visit one day!

  4. Imperial New Delhi, has so much incredible history associated with it. I was not knowing that it was among Gandhi’s favorite dining spot. Dining in Spice Route must would be great as it holds all the cultures of India into one dining hall. 500 year old clock which is still working also amazes me.

  5. Wow! So rich in history. Hard to believe that the man in a dhoti – Gandhiji liked that luxurious spot.
    It will give me goosebumps to tour this place!

  6. Wow what an amazing experience with such amazing history, if those walls could talk? I have never heard of the Imperial New Delhi before but it looks an amazing place for history and luxury buffs alike.

  7. Like the old world charm of this place and the historical tidbits you provided. One can keep debating about the geopolitical legacy of the Raj but they did leave behind some of the better buildings and surely they had a better sense of town planning compared to our ministers and babus nowadays.

  8. Wow wow wow, this seems like a palace more than anything! So luxurious and stylish. I love how they’ve managed to keep some of the originality of the place after all these years. How amazing must it be to be able to say you set foot in one of Gandhi’s favourite places?!

  9. A beautiful mix of heritage and contemporary decor. This place definitely speaks of luxury. Interesting that Gandhiji liked this place for I would have never associated such a place with him. Curiosity though – how much would such a place cost for a night?
    Ami recently posted…Deciphering the royal residence at Leh Palace, LadakhMy Profile

  10. This hotel really looks outstanding! The architecture is truly stunning.

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