After two weeks of work without a day off, three overnight train rides, 4am starts and a heat wave - I definitely felt in need of a night off to relax. I had one night in Delhi before my flight back to London and the JW Marriott Aerocity kindly put me up.
I've always been told that there's no hospitality like Indian hospitality, and I can promise you that's entirely true. Everywhere I've ever traveled in India I have found everyone to be extremely kind and giving, whether you're being welcomed into someone's home or a luxury hotel like the Marriott.
Entering the JW Marriott in Delhi was no different. Walking into the hotel I felt happy but shattered. I completely passed out and woke up in the morning at about six, ordered a chai and took some time to process all that I had experienced in India... and by the time I checked out I was feeling relaxed and ready for my flight home.
But I'm getting ahead of myself...
I can put my amazing sleep down to one thing, and that was a visit to the Quan Spa the day before. I was treated to a tour by spa manager Dr. Anand Kumar and a treatment of my choice, and I chose the ultimate aromatherapy experience because the words 'relaxed' and 'recharged' jumped out at me as being very appealing.
I haven't had many massages in my life, but out of the few I have experienced I can safely say this was the best. That may be my aching body speaking, but right at that moment it was exactly what I needed.
I would love to say I stayed up late, drinking cocktails and lounging over dinner with friends, but my body took control and put me to bed promptly at 10:30pm. After two weeks of hard work it was done. But before I passed out...
While I was waiting for the guys to arrive I started off the night with an Imli Sour which was made up of vodka (not whisky, because yuck), tamarind pulp and jaggery - it was delicious! I had a chat with Ankur Chawla, the hotel's beverage manager, and while we started off naturally talking about the menu and the drinks, etc... we quickly moved on to talking about the documentary, Somm. Have you seen it? It's amazing. Ankur is a sommelier too and had lots of interesting chat about wine and alcohol in general, making bespoke cocktails for people based on their likes and personal memories, and lots of stories about all the famous people he's made personalised drinks for.
And so naturally I asked "can you make me a Nishaantishu?" - and of course he said of course (see paragraph one about hospitality)! So here it is. I present to you:
60ml Bombay Saphire
4 fresh basil leaves
4 smoked basil leaves
1 squeeze of lemon juice
30ml concotion of masala chai mixed with ice
a tiny bit of sugar syrup
half a mango
All mashed together in a chocktail mixer and strained into a glass (not the technical way of saying it I'm sure).
and ta-daaaa... behold...
After Jamie and Jeremy arrived, we had a few more drinks and then headed into dinner at Akira Back where Cory Asato, head chef, gave us the most amazing dinner. The best word I can think of to describe the food we ate is umami - which I know is a massively overused word in writing about food these days, but even with the food revolution that seems to be going on in London at the moment, never have I eaten food with such intense taste. We had a tasting menu and each dish had so much flavour - they obviously take great care and pride in their food, even flying the fresh fish in from Japan! I've never regretted so much that my stomach is not bottomless.
The next morning I woke up feeling very relaxed. I could have slept a lot longer, but instead I had some chai in bed and a very long shower in the massive shower room in my bathroom. I love nothing better than a shower head that's large enough to make you feel like you're standing in a monsoon, and that's exactly what this room had.
Breakfast at the hotel was epic. I lost track of how many countries you could try the breakfast from - they had everything from croissants to congee! Again I got to meet the head chef, Mr Girish Krishnan and he took me on a tour of each food station. We chatted about how to make the perfect cup of chai and his passion for food photography - I showed him some of my favourite foody instagram accounts and he helped me take some of my photos. I opted for pancakes and papaya (if you follow me on snapchat you'll already be aware of my immense love for papaya), followed by some green tea.
If you've been reading Nishaantishu for a while, you'll know that when I travel I usually like to stay in more local accommodation. But sometimes it's so wonderful to be able to treat yourself (or be treated) to a wonderful hotel that is all about rest an relaxation - like when we went to Iceland. There's nothing better than flopping into a comfortable bed with squashy pillows after two weeks solid of hard but incredibly gratifying work.
I can't wait to go back to the JW Marriot, if only for another Nishaantishu cocktail!