The Imperial, New Delhi
A tasteful colonial theme park, this Art Deco icon was built in 1936, at the arrogant height of the Raj. It has a remarkable art collection, on display in every nook and cranny of the public areas: hundreds of historic lithographs, paintings, and anthropological sketches depict colonial-era and “native” life customs. The anachronism continues in the clubby 1911 lounge, all fan palms and cane chairs; in the stalwart Patiala Peg pub, smelling of single-malts and entitlement; and in the Imperial’s impeccably clipped lawns, fit for a coronation or a spot of croquet. The location, just blocks from Connaught Place, is as central as it gets; the service is not only confident but actually capable; and the rooms offer a tidy blend of historicism (in the Raj-style trimmings) and functionality (in the up-to-the-minute technology). The grounds are well worth an afternoon visit even if you’re not staying here.