T+L Reports: Star of India: Bangalore
Published: May 2009
Long beloved as India's Garden City, Bangalore is suddenly hotter than chicken vindaloo. Having been recently dot-commified into an IT hub (earning it the moniker "the Silicon Valley of India"), the southern metropolis is welcoming a new breed of hotels, shops, and restaurants eager to satisfy the subcontinent's style-conscious technophiles.
Design guru Sir Terence Conran started it all in the spring of 2001 when he created the Park (14/7 Mahatma Gandhi Rd.; 91-80/559-4666; www.theparkhotels.com; doubles from $160), a 109-room sanctuary of swank, complete with all the boutique-hotel basics: a supermodel staff; a lobby filled with pastel velvet chaises and raw silk curtains; and I-bar, a Skybar clone, where Bollywood babes sip dark rum as they hop between beanbags.
The hotel's main competitor is the 252-room, all-pink Leela Palace (23 Airport Rd.; 91-80/521-1234; www.theleela.com; doubles from $165), home to Citrus, a restaurant for eclectic Indo-Med fare, and a Vegas-style mall that includes Jaipur's textile authority, Anokhi (91-80/521-7491); the gem-laden Ganjam Jewelers (91-80/520-3228); and the well-stocked Oxford Bookstore (91-80/5115-5222). A branch of Bombay's velvet-rope nightclub Athena is due to open here in December.
The Indian elite shape their closets at Cinnamon (11 Walton Rd.; 91-80/222-9794), the Bangalore version of Paris's Colette. Brainchild of tea producers Abhishek and Radhika Poddar, the gallery-like shop carries one-of-a-kind saris, leather-fringed wraps, and enamel bowls. The store also holds book launches and monthly art exhibitions of jewelry, fashion, and antique textiles.
A few miles from the city's chaotic downtown, ad exec Gautam Kalra and fashion designers Himanshu Dimri and Sonali Sattar run the edgy Grasshopper (45 Kalena Agrahara, Banner-ghatta Rd.; 91-80/659-3999). Set in a concrete warehouse on two quiet acres of family farmland—without a sari in sight—this hidden boutique showcases Dimri and Sattar's clothing label, Hidden Harmony, a collection of Armaniesque looks, and the work of other young designers. Plan your spree around lunch or dinner, which is served on the porch or in the garden; warm figs and feta salad and lemongrass ice cream, for example, are freshly whipped up by Dimri, who moonlights as a chef.
To restore your purchasing prana, book a day of Thai and ayurvedic treatments at the Banyan Tree offspring, Angsana Oasis Spa & Resort (Main Doddaballapur Rd., Rajankunte; 91-80/846-8892; www.angsana.com; treatments from $20), a dozen miles northwest of the city. Given by specialists flown in from Phuket and Kerala, the traditional treatments (Ayutthaya massage, herbal body wraps, honey-and-sesame scrubs) are an indulgent antidote to the city's hype and spice.