Words by Kamalika Mukherjee
One fine afternoon, my car pulled up into the foyer of the magnanimous ITC Royal Bengal. As soon I entered the hotel, I was ushered in with a beautiful scarf and a refreshing coconut drink. What caught my attention however was the grand stairway that flanked both sides of the entrance and mirrored a culture of exceptional extravagance that resonated with the fine lifestyle of Bengal’s erstwhile nobility.
ITC Hotels’ second luxury property in Kolkata, the architecture is inspired by local history and culture. At a height of 133 metres, the ITC Royal Bengal stands as one of the tallest buildings in the city and the 456 keys luxury hotel (including 82 serviced apartments of 1 -2 BHK for extended stays) was designed by architects WATG Associates, Singapore and landscaped by Belt Collins of Singapore.
ITC Royal Bengal celebrates the royalty of the intellect through the centuries – where literature, poetry, painting, sculpture, theatre, cinema, science, had not only blossomed, but were inherent to the fabric of Bengal. The hotel also offers versatile banquet options for both business meetings and events with total banquet and convention facilities covering an area of 61000 sq feet. Revered as one of the largest wellness facilities in the country, it has 7 treatment rooms, 3000 sq feet of gymnasium which operated 24 Hours and a plunge pool.
Characterized by an eloquently tempered expression of luxury, the 456 rooms, suites and 82 serviced apartments offer an elegantly lavish abode of comfort and indulgence that draws inspiration from the aristocratic Bengali homes. Every room is equipped with an entertainment and room automation mobile device application for a personalised guest experience for in-room control features like lighting, temperature, video-on-demand content, TV channels and others.
The 14 suites offer pleasing contemporary décor and bouquet of signature services to elevate the experience. Spread across an expanse of 6,620 sq. ft. and 3,500 sq. ft. respectively, the Grand Presidential Suite and the Presidential Suite feature the finest Italian marble, timber floors, highly decorative high ceilings, state of the art gym and elegantly designed furniture.
Mr. Tejinder Singh, area manager East ITC Hotels and cluster general manager ITC Royal Bengal and ITC Sonar, stated: “ITC Royal Bengal reflects the finest influences of the spirit of Bengal which has always manifested a truly global cosmopolitanism and has celebrated the finest nuances of culture and a zest for sublime experiences, as we apply these notes of accomplishment and achievement as well as the unique fervour of its people, we look forward to create ‘One of a Kind’ experiences that are globally acknowledged and celebrated.”
After checking in to my ITC One room, I dropped my off my belongings and headed over to lunch at the hotel’s Italian restaurant, Ottimo Cucina Italia where I found out that the chef had prepared a special course. At the helm was master chef Vittorio Greco under whose watchful eyes, the restaurant has flourished. The exquisite Italian ristorante featured a magnificent live kitchen where the chef’s skills are put on display for the guests to enjoy.
From wood fired pizzas, elaborate antipasti and a variety of artisanal pastas and cheeses, one should not forget to indulge in the select wines. My absolute favourites at the restaurant were the double chicken consommé with saffron caviar and morels, cream of mushroom soup, risotto with lobster and star anise, the wood fired pizzas, tiramisu and the vanilla pannacotta. They were also very adept with their seafood – particularly the baked salmon and the black cod with pistachio crust, cherry tomatoes, ligurian olives and capers.
Sated and happy, I headed back to my room for a much needed break. On this note, I would like to point out that my butler Debaparna was absolutely delightful. From taking care of all my needs to planning out my itinerary, she took care of everything without me having to fuss about it. I was told that I had a spa appointment at around 5.30 pm and I decided to freshen up and get comfortable for a while. The room was cozy and albeit very relaxing and the I-pad controlled feature made things a lot easier and allowed me to take care of things right from my the comfort of my bed.
After about an hour, I headed to the globally acclaimed Kaya Kalp -The Royal Spa. Featuring exquisitely designed rooms, the spa offers signature, traditional and indigenous therapies to help immerse in a rejuvenating experience. I opted for the Eastern Journey which explored the spa treatment based on ingredients like Gondhoraj (Bengali lime), Sundarban honey and Gobindobhog (Bengali aromatic rice) body scrub. I followed that up with a pedicure at the salon and headed to Royal Vega for dinner.
Based on the concept of eating fresh and seasonal produce, the restaurant brought together a delightful offering of sumptuous vegetarian food. With an immaculate thali style menu, Royal Vega celebrates the grandeur of the royal kitchens of India and the 300-year-old Sheherwali cuisine set menu that was designed meticulously by chef Varun Mohan who soon joined me at the table.
Chef Mohan recommended the Sheherwali Khasa, a plethora of delicacies from the royal vegetarian kitchens of the Sheherwali, erstwhile Jain nobility from the havelis of Murshidabad. The menu boasted of 14 dishes from savoury to sweet (in that order) and used no onion or garlic. Although it seemed like a lot, it was light and quite palatable as the restaurant followed the ritual of Ayurveda that denoted eating in a certain order that would aid in digestion.
After a hearty dinner, I walked back to my room and was greeted with beautiful souvenirs that Mr. Singh, the cluster general manager had left – two intricately designed silver filigree napkin rings that were handcrafted in Moukhali village in West Bengal and a spectacular Murshidabadi silk scarf, with the thought of responsible luxury in mind. The housekeeping staff had also prepared a warm bath for me and my day certainly couldn’t get any better. The next morning, Debaparna got me some Earl Grey tea that I had requested the night before. I quickly changed and headed over for breakfast to Grand Market Pavilion, a restaurant that is inspired by the erstwhile Hogg Market of Calcutta in the Esplanade area.
On this note, I would like to point out that I had both breakfast and lunch at Grand Market Pavilion. Filled with the sensibilities of a marketplace – freshness, familiarity and discovery, the restaurant featured an extensive spread of Indian, innovative and international delicacies prepared in live arenas. The restaurant also offered cuisine from eight North Eastern states of the country (the only one in the city) as a part of its regular buffet offering.
Complex executive chef Vijay Malhotra took me through the restaurant and its sectional offerings, explaining the bits and pieces of what made up the massive buffet. The breakfast and lunch were both delectable, to say the least and I decided to pay a visit to the salon for a quick blow dry. After a good 20 minutes, I headed back to my room and relaxed for a while. The housekeeping team had very kindly prepared a bath for me (they had also sent me vials of pillow mist and stress relief spray as I had requested for it the night before. Talk of personalisation) and I sunk in almost immediately.
Around 5 in the evening, I checked out of my room and headed for high tea at the Darjeeling Lounge that pays homage to the tea estates of the 1800’s. Open 24 hours a day, the lounge was the perfect place to relax and catch up over tea with the marketing and communications manager, Arundhati Ghosh who played a vital role during my stay ensuring that I was comfortable. I was offered the French Earl Grey tea and Darjeeling tea with an array of bite sized delights that were scrumptious. We soon settled into the Bengali culture of ‘adda’ or a leisurely chat and after the tea was over, I headed out of the hotel with a huge bag of pastries that Arundhati had so kindly packed for me. As we bid our goodbyes, I took one last look at this palatial property that had in a way changed the landscape of the city.
Rooms at ITC Royal Bengal can be booked from INR 10,500 plus taxes/USD 140 per night.
Address: 1, JBS Haldane Ave, Tangra, Kolkata.
Phone: (+91) (33) 44464646