Author: Devanshi Mody

SVATMA (Tanjavur): History Gets Hip in Tamil Nadu’s 1000-Year-Old Chola Capital!

A bharatnatyam dancer swirled her uncle’s 150-year-old heritage home into 2016’s cunningest boutique hotel. It’s about art. Resolutely, Tamil Nadu’s age-old arts. Svatma chicly disposes Mahabalipuram rock sculptures, Swamimalai bronzes, Chettinadu woodcraft, Kumbakonam brass lamps, bejewelled Tanjavur paintings and hand-crafted old musical veenas. If you don’t know what any of this is, you will at Svatma. For you should know that Mahabalipuram sculptures and Swamimalai bronzes are millennial art forms that predate most things you’ve seen at the Louvre, the Uffizi and the Prado. As for Tanjavur, if you didn’t know about this ancient capital of the Cholas, shockingly...

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The Bangala, Chettinad: Heritage Haven in Historic Tamil Nadu!

Featured several times in the New York Times, the hotel occupying a house that turns 100 this year has redefined ABC. In Chettinad “A” stands for Achchi or the grand-dame Mrs. Meenakshi Meiyappan who owns The Bangala, which “B” designates, whilst “C” can only signify the celebrated Chettinadu cuisine The Bangala upholds with unmitigated zeal. Achchi (meaning grandma) which Mrs. Meiyappan is unexceptionally called, runs the hotel as an extension of her home, which means you sometimes concede the professionalism of a hotel to the charming idiosyncrasies of local staff (who seem to have been around as long as...

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Sicilian Siesta

Everyday in Sicily is Christmas day. Work is abhorrent. Certainly over Christmas and New Year, as UNESCO World Heritage sites that tessellate this remarkable island vibrant with orange and olive groves languish and the spectacularly good Sicilian wine matures. Yet Sicilians, evoking their famous cannoli, although often limp like the ricotta filling, can be as crisp as the dessert’s enveloping pastry. So on Christmas Eve I descend upon Taormina, that hill-perched fairytale town. A Mercedes conveys me to the legendary San Domenico Palace. It’s nearing midnight. Yet Caterina at Front Office, “flouting” the notorious Sicilian indolence, has tarried to...

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Mandarin Oriental Paris: An Oriental Ode to Paris

Who’d have imagined that what was at nascence a medieval nunnery would  attain the apogee of luxe parisien, conferred the ultimate and uniquely parisian designation “Palace Parisien.” Notwithstanding, the Mandarin Oriental, a precious stone’s throw away from Place Vendôme necklaced in haute joailliers, is so discreet you could slip past it on designer-boutique-streamed Rue St Honoré. And yet, the MO has stamped itself reverberatingly on the Parisian luxury circuit Sensationalism isn’t emblematic of brand Mandarin Oriental, but the check-in at MO Paris is nothing if not sensational. “What would you like to drink?” you’re asked. Your “welcome drink” might...

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Kabini: Jazzing the Jungle

Set on the Kabini river by the Nagarhole Tiger Reserve, the award-winning eco property, Orange County, distinguishes itself. If South African lodges I recently visited jealously absorb the guest in a swaddling, suffocating superfluity of finery, Orange County generously directs the gaze outwards. It is minimalist, with mud cottages replicating thatch-roofed Kadu Kuruba tribal huts (albeit rather fancy ones with private pools or jacuzzis). Unlike what is found in South Africa, 1,000 chandeliers don’t burn irresponsibly in your villa day-long. Amidst this unabrasively-lit, unobtrusive, indigenous set-up, the one jazzy concession is a cutting-edge river-front infinity pool, but that too...

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