TravTalk - India - - HOTEL TALK -

VI­JAY WANCHOO Se­nior Ex­ec­u­tive VP & GM The Im­pe­rial New Delhi

Earn­ing the moniker of be­ing In­dia’s ‘Mu­seum Ho­tel’, The Im­pe­rial, New Delhi is all about pe­riod art, which fits ever so per­fectly with the essence that this unique prop­erty ex­udes. The ho­tel’s re­la­tion­ship with art is a long-stand­ing one. Since its in­cep­tion, over 70 years ago, it has not only been a repos­i­tory of art, but also a home to many fa­mous artists. The Im­pe­rial, New Delhi has care­fully pre­served its col­lec­tion of orig­i­nal en­grav­ings and lith­o­graphs and has added steadily to it over this pe­riod. With a lofty his­tory that very few ho­tels can boast of, The Im­pe­rial’s love af­fair with In­dian his­tory is a long­stand­ing one. Here, guests can lit­er­ally dine in an art gallery. It is per­haps the only mu­seum ho­tel of its kind. Each floor of the ho­tel is ded­i­cated to an artist whose orig­i­nal works adorn the walls of the rooms and the cor­ri­dors. Care has been taken to recre­ate the room dé­cor and am­bi­ence of the pe­riod of Bri­tish Raj. The rooms of­fer a choice of mar­ble or par­quet floor­ing with artis­tic bor­ders and ex­quis­ite Per­sian hand-knot­ted car­pets. Each room also has unique an­tique pieces of fur­ni­ture and paint­ings from the ho­tel’s art col­lec­tion. The Im­pe­rial, New Delhi proudly dis­plays a price­less art col­lec­tion of the ‘Bri­tish Art on In­dia’ that in­cludes the works of great artists who worked in In­dia in the late 17th and early 18th cen­tury and pro­duced etch­ings, wood en­grav­ings, lith­o­graphs, aquat­ints and mez­zot­ints based on sketches of land­scapes, ar­chi­tec­ture, to­pog­ra­phy and life and times of In­dia. The ho­tel has three main art gal­leries and a col­lec­tion of life-size oil paint­ings of the princely rulers of In­dia. No area of the ho­tel has been left de­prived of the mag­i­cal in­flu­ence of art – its pres­ence is felt in the ball­room, the rooms, the pub­lic spa­ces, and of course the lobby. Vi­jay Wanchoo, Se­nior Ex­ec­u­tive VP & GM, The Im­pe­rial, New Delhi, talks about why the ho­tel chose this theme. “Art adds to the sheer splen­dour and lux­ury of any ho­tel. For his­toric ho­tels like ours, art is an im­por­tant el­e­ment to show­case the valu­able her­itage while it con­trib­utes to the reper­toire and en­hances The Im­pe­rial ex­pe­ri­ence. Art is heav­ily show­cased on each floor of our ho­tel and is an in­trin­sic part of our her­itage–on ev­ery level of Im­pe­rial’s sprawl­ing four-

For his­toric ho­tels like ours, art is an im­por­tant el­e­ment to show­case the valu­able her­itage

storey struc­ture, in ev­ery pub­lic area, in lobby, stair­wells and canopies, adorn­ing foun­tains and fur­ni­ture, cov­er­ing walls, keep­ing vigil from ceil­ings, cosy­ing up in restau­rants, ac­com­pa­ny­ing you in royal car­riages, in rooms graced with four-poster beds,” he says. The grandiose ar­chi­tec­ture of any art-based ho­tel is duly com­ple­mented with the­matic or his­toric art that it has pre­served, re­stored and dis­played. This ho­tel also has cu­rated art tours for the res­i­dents ac­com­pa­nied with high tea at ` 2,500. All the art­works and lith­o­graphs dis­played across the ho­tel have been pre­served and col­lected by the own­ers. Some have been sourced from the Lon­don Mu­seum of Art and some have been their own col­lec­tion ac­quired through years. Of course, such ex­u­ber­ance comes at a fee. Wanchoo re­veals, “The reg­u­lar main­te­nance is a big chal­lenge in terms of han­dling but we have yearly restora­tion works con­ducted across the ho­tel for keep­ing each art­work ab­so­lutely im­mac­u­late in its form and fin­ish. Also, we have a spe­cial depart­ment han­dled by a Di­rec­tor-level per­son who is re­spon­si­ble for the main­te­nance of the art­works and lith­o­graphs, and has been do­ing this beau­ti­fully over the years.” His favourite piece is a paint­ing of the coro­na­tion of King Ge­orge V and Queen Mary at the Delhi Dur­bar, at the en­trance of the ho­tel’s 1911 restau­rant. The Im­pe­rial, New Delhi is all about pe­riod art so con­tem­po­rary art will not find space here.

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