T+L Reports: Star of India: Bangalore
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.
The Park Bangalore
To find the Leela Goa among the clutch of hotels along Goa’s palm tree-lined stretch of sand, keep an eye out for a pair of carved-stone elephants that will greet you in the lobby; they’re the first hint what you’ll discover at this secluded escape along India’s western coast. Then there’s the architecture—a mix of colonial Portuguese, Indian, and Mediterranean design elements—and balconies overlooking the River Sal and private plunge pools. Unlike many of the nearby hideaways, the Leela has all the requisite luxury amenities, too. Garden walkways will lead you to a 12-hole golf course, an Ayurvedic-focused spa, and the white-sand beach where parasailing and windsurfing are favorite activities.