Words by Satarupa Paul
Night has fallen by the time we arrive in India’s IT capital, the lively metropolis of Bengaluru in the southern state of Karnataka. Our address here is one of the most distinguished landmarks of the city and also one of its original luxury hotels — the iconic and very elegant ITC Windsor.
As we drive up to its pearly white structure peeking from shaded trees in the distance, the magnificent Bangalore Palace, the historic Vidhan Soudha and the verdant expanses of the Bengaluru Golf Course pass by, marking the prominence of its location. Subsequently, a private access bridge leads us into a grand driveway, and rounding it, we are at once engulfed in the old-world charm of this Luxury Collection hotel.
A 90-year-old rain tree stands high and mighty in the middle of the entrance portico, its numerous branches spreading wide across the canopy, almost as a gesture of welcome to the discerning guests. Built around the epicentre of this tree, the stately façade of the hotel exudes a sense of discreet luxury.
Originally constructed in 1982, with an identical addition ten years later, the ITC Windsor is styled in typical Regency period architecture, lending it the look and feel of a graceful English manor. Mirroring a century of colonial Bangalore’s Cantonment history, it further represents the refinement and splendour of that bygone era.
Stepping inside the reception lobby is akin to taking a step back in time, to the halcyon days of opulence and grandeur. A dazzling crystal chandelier hangs from the high domed ceiling, right above a marbled fountain bed, its light reflecting off the shining marble floor of the lobby. A wood-panelled Cabinet Lounge and antique artwork on the walls create an impressive first impression.
As we walk in, our luggage already taken care of at the driveway, we are promptly greeted with minty cool towels and a refreshing welcome drink. We are then introduced to our very own personal butler, a sweet lady by the name of Shatabdi, who graciously escorts us to our accommodation. This is all but a prelude to what is come over the next three days of our indulgent staycation at this 5-star luxury hotel.
Living the Fine Life
The ITC Windsor boasts 240 guest rooms across two wings — the luxuriously-appointed Manor Wing, and the business traveller-oriented but equally well-appointed Tower Wing. Beside one sprawling, ultra-luxe Presidential Suite — the preferred stay of celebrated guests, from Hollywood actors and celebrities to the heads of states — the accommodations here also include 12 Manor suites.
Each of these come with a distinctive interior, graceful high ceilings, hardwood floors, Queen Anne period furniture and plush furnishings. All Manor suites are named after a prominent personality from the Regency era, and they either open to serene views of the lush garden or of the green canopy cover of the portico. Two of the suites have balcony access, while a few open into the hotel’s private Lancelot Gardens, perfect for savouring the beautiful weather that Bengaluru is known for.
It is in one of these charming suites, specifically the stately Lord Hastings Suite, that we find ourselves during our stay. One of the largest suites in the hotel, it features a splendid living room marked into three distinct spacious areas — a seating area bedecked with rich but tasteful sofas and couches arranged in front of a large flat-screen TV, a dining area with a circular dining table pre-set with china and linens, and a study with all necessary stationery and other paraphernalia. An array of welcome treats, including a fruit platter and a range of signature desserts, are placed on the central table for our enjoyment, to be replenished daily.
The adjoining bedroom features a king-sized bed with an enviable pillow menu, and even a set of monogrammed cushions bearing the names of my partner and me — a special personal touch that they incorporate for select guests. The attention to detail is further enhanced with cute welcome gift baskets of grooming essentials for him and her.
The bedroom includes another flat screen TV and a smaller seating area beside the large French windows overlooking the shaded portico. The marbled bathroom comes with a bathtub and shower, and is stocked with Essenza Di Wills bath products, fluffy towels, comfy bathrobes and slippers.
Besides featuring state-of-the-art, in suite facilities, the Manor suites also come with a range of exclusive services, such as Lounge access, cocktail hours every evening, access to the 24-hour boardrooms and, most significantly, the attentive and efficient services of a personal butler.
During our stay, it is Shatabdi who personally escorts us everywhere, attends to our requirements, and makes sure we aren’t wanting for anything, while being duly respectful of our privacy and space. The experience of staying here truly makes you feel that the ITC Windsor isn’t just built in the tradition of a stately English manor, but also run as one!
On the first night that we arrive here, our butler informs us of the various reservations that have been made for us at the ITC Windsor’s award-winning bouquet of restaurants. Over the years, the ITC Hotels group has garnered many accolades for bringing a certain excellence to its culinary endeavours that offer the best of Indian and international cuisines.
And the ITC Windsor is no exception to this rule, as we find out on our first gastronomic sojourn at the renowned Dum Pukht Jolly Nabobs. Offering a unique amalgamation of Anglo-Lucknowi cuisine, this elegant fine dining restaurant presents some of the most authentic, delectable dishes of North India in a regal ambience. Our feast includes melt-in-the-mouth Kakori Kebabs, the fragrant Dum Pukht Biryani, layered Warqi Parathas and more such delights.
Next morning, the glass-fronted Raj Pavilion provides the perfect setting for a leisurely breakfast from a vast buffet selection, while the South Indian speciality restaurant Dakshin is our port of call for lunch. Dining at Dakshin is a complete immersive experience—upon arrival, I’m offered a traditional gajra (a fragrant flower garland to tie in the hair).
As we sit flipping through its extensive menu of South Indian delicacies, we’re offered steaming hot glasses of rasam, a tangy welcome drink that sets our palates tingling for what’s to come. A big thali (traditional plate) is then placed in front of us, and a plethora of dishes are served including several varieties of chutneys, lentils, curries of vegetables, fish, chicken, mutton, prawns and accompaniments such as rice, appam, parotta and more! All of this accompanied by local musicians serenading us with beautiful traditional Carnatic numbers.
To recover from this mammoth culinary feast, we head to the in-house Kaya Kalp spa in the late afternoon, for a long session of rest and rejuvenation with their signature Kaya Kalp Massage. Designed to relax the entire body, this 60-minute aroma-therapeutic massage combines blends of essential oils personalised to your needs and soothing strokes for the ultimate relaxation.
Adequately rejuvenated and having worked up a slight appetite yet again, following a session of swimming at the lovely outdoor pool, we head to their Irish pub, Dublin to sample some of their exclusive selection of spirits and beverages.
Our last morning at ITC Windsor sees us indulging in one final culinary journey — that of the robust cuisine of the rugged North West Frontier at the al fresco poolside dining of Royal Afghan. This barbecue restaurant offers yet another award-winning menu of delicacies cooked in the traditional clay tandoor. We are pampered with generous servings of a wide choice of kebabs, curries, Indian breads and a sampling of the famous Dal Bukhara.
Having satiated our body, mind and soul, with our resplendent stay, indulgent gourmet experiences, relaxing spa therapies, and overall, by the warm hospitality of the hotel staff and our personal butler, we return from our luxuriant regal staycation with fond memories and the desire to be back soon!
Address: 25, Golf Course Road, Windsor Square, Abshot Layout, Vasanth Nagar, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560052, India
Phone: +91 80 2226 9898