Meet sisters Rajika and Vartika. My friends share the same intoxicating laugh, the same crazy fast approach to life and I love them in equal measure, but if it were not for their identically huge almond eyes you wouldn’t know these bon vivants were actually sisters.
Rajika favours offbeat adventure, Vartika the latest in luxury. Spend an evening with both of them and you’ll discover a new side to Delhi… and a killer headache the morning after. I asked them for their tips on the city.
R: Cafe Lota is a rustic yet elegant eatery offering really, really freshy and light Indian food. It’s quite hidden away and the atmosphere is really cool. The cafe isn’t air conditioned though, so go in the evening and check out the craft museum too. Also, The Potbelly Rooftop Cafe serves simple, tasty Bihari cuisine in a really lovely setting.
V: Bukhara restaurant at the ITC Maurya is fantastic. They’re famous for their 18 hour cooked black daal; it’s to die for! I also like the restaurants around Kahn Market, like Perch and Out of the Box.
R: The Piano Man is my favourite club in town. The live jazz is really, really good and lots of professional musicians just go there to hang out. Habitat puts on some interesting plays and exhibitions too.
V: There is always somewhere new and exciting in Delhi but I’ve been going to the Blue Bar at Taj Palace for years now. The cocktails are really good and the vibe is luxurious without being stuffy.
R: I love a good rummage through a market. Dilli Haat showcases some of the best traditional handicrafts in town; it’s the place for buying gifts with genuine Indian heritage. Chandni Chowk is a wholesale market with everything from toilet roll to beautiful silver jewelry. It’s so chaotic; it’s worth a visit for the experience in itself. N Block Market is also good for clothing stores like Fab India and there are lots of cool cafes there too.
V: I prefer DLF Emporio Mall. All the main international brands like Burberry and Vuitton are there as well as my favourite Indian designers such as Rohit Bal and Sabyasachi. Sometimes when it gets so hot outside I prefer to stick to one air conditioned mall where I know I will find everything. Otherwise, Khan Market is a good choice and I’ll often go and check out the stores there. Of course I don’t need to buy jewelry as I design my own!
Dilli Haat. Photo by *floydgal*
Chandni Chowk. Photo by david.dominguezm
R: For my beauty treatments I always go to Khubsoorat. Like most customers, I’ve been going for years. They are one of the leaders in bridal makeup services, and here in India that means much more than a slap of blusher. They offer everything from facials with qualified medical experts to gold body polishing treatments and more traditional ayurveda therapies.
V: And for men, my husband swears by Truefitt & Hill in Meherchand Market. It’s a very old school British place which offers proper barber services like in the old days – hot towels, cut throat razors, aftershave and facial oils. Lots of guys go here just for the time out and I’m sure many a business deal is concluded over a visit.
R: The area around Hauz Khas Villa is nice and while I haven’t stayed myself, Haveli Hauz Khas gets good reviews.
While you’re in India, you might also like to check my post with insider tips on Mumbai.