I had the pleasure of traveling to New Delhi for work. A group of us stayed at the Shangri-La’s-Eros Hotel and spent all of our free time exploring the city. There is a lot to see and do, and even more, if you are willing to travel. For one of the overnights, we took a short haul flight to Jaipur, for example. But in this quick little article we will cover the best things to do in New Delhi, from architecture to nightlife.
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Have lunch at the Olive Bar and Kitchen in Qutub
Beautiful Italian restaurant with an indoor and outdoor areas. The outdoor patio is enclosed by the building and is a small, cottage-themed heaven. There is also an upper deck (not always open) with a great view. The menu is upscale and all, oh so very tasty, with great service. And as a bonus, there are a few nice Indian designer shops near there, including Ashima Leena.
See a show at the Kingdom of Dreams*
This is about half a day trip and a very entertaining show: singing, dancing, flying witches – the whole thing! There is also a lot to see and try in the main building. You will find many restaurants with cuisines from across India, beautifully painted decor, souvenir shops, and live performances. It’s all super fun, in a slightly cheesy kind of way. Just make sure you’re well rested. We went the day after landing and no lie, I fell asleep in the dark with the jet leg. Still feel bad about that.
Explore Cyber Hub in Gurgaon
After the show head over to Cyber Hub in Gurgaon (or any other night, it’s a bit of a trip though). The area is a gated community hub for all nearby offices. There are shops, ice cream cafes, and many restaurant bars around. The center of it all is an outdoor TV where people gather to watch Cricket matches. All bars, I noticed, are called pubs, regardless of it being a club or a brewery. No matter the name the all seem like great party places – yes party! Well, at last here (and Hauz Khas Village but more on that later). People have drinks, dance, sing along to the music, and just generally share good vibes.
Dine in luxury at the Indian Accent
Recently rated by TripAdvisor as one of the best restaurants in the world, Indian Accent is fine dinning at its best. Dress code is in effect so you will need to wear your best dress for the night. The cuisine is modern Indian with a great selection of wine. Here we tried some Indian white wine, which was quite lovely, a bit on the spicy, earthy side. Reservations needed ahead of time.
Eat & hangout at the the Junkyard Cafe
Yes, it is very junkyardy in decor, over the top so. In fact, majority of the younger demographic restaurants in Delhi are heavily themed and super fun. The Junkyard Cafe has a large mixed menu selection, comfortable seating, and plenty to look around at. We went in for weekday lunch so it was quite empty but in the evenings this is a very happening spot.
Note: you need to go upstairs and across the patio to find the front door, bit of a maze.
Have dinner at the Kainoosh
Wonderful, upscale Indian restaurant in a shopping centre (next door to a great store!). Everything is ordered to share. Plates are dropped of in the centre and portions are served by the wait staff – fairly standard practice. The three of us shared quite a few plates after working a 12-hour day and all of it was simply delcious.
Spend an evening at the Piano Man Jazz Club
A very popular, two level, small music bar. On weeknights especially it gets very busy, people sit on the tight round staircase to watch the show. As it goes with live music bars the music is not always Jazz. We were seated on a balcony with a perfect view on the stage. The balcony offers a great vantage point on the rest of the bar as well making great people wathcing. Make sure to order bottled drinks and bottled water and don’t eat here. Their cooking technques are subpar and might not be the most agreable with your particular North American stomach. Fun spot nonetheless.
Note: You’ll need to email for reservations in advance.
Have a spiritual experience at the Akshardham Temple
A Hindu temple designed by the famous Pramukh Swami Maharaj. It’s a “spiritual-cultural campus” that people flock to. There is an organized gated entry line and you can’t bring anything with you, not even a purse and definitely not a phone or a camera. I walked in with cash in my pocket and a scarf to cover my head. Purchased some postcards to remember that I went there. The temple is absolutely stunning. It glows in the sun and inspires you to be silent, to sit down and contemplate life. As you take your shoes of and walk inside, each room brings a whole new sense of amazement. There’s truly nothing else like it.
Hot tip: the white tiles are not as hot as the black. It will make sense once you take your shoes off.
Visit Agrasen ki Baoli
A little architectural secret in the heart of New Delhi Agrasen ki Baoli is a 60-meter long and 15-meter wide historical step well near Connaught Place. It’s quite deep and peaceful and as you stand at the top you see the stark contrast between the old well walls and the new tall buildings in the background.
Hang out in the Hauz Khas Village
Small artsy neighbourhood with narrow streets, mixed architecture, lots of established art galleries, fashion boutiques and a vivid night life. So vivid the cool kids avoid it on the weekends. Adjacent to the Village is a deer park in which you can find some picnic huts and a lovely lake.
While there, eat at the Hauz Khas Social: a popular chain across Delhi. The Social is a bar, a restaurant, and a co-working space. Each location has a theme, this one for example is “100% recycled and upcycled” with rough bare walls and hard industrial elements. Compare to the rest of the restaurants in this blog Social is cheap, like one-dollar-sign cheap. But the food is great and the atmosphere is very welcoming (two images above). This place is chill AF. Oh and it looks out onto that deer park!
Eat & drink at the Leela hotel*
This hotel is overwhelming with wealth – the selling height, the heavy curtains, and marble floors are, well, breathtaking. There are quite a few restaurants and bars there. We opted in for the Japanese Speciality Restaurant and the Library Bar for some classic cocktails. The menu has a nice selection of fresh fish and a few cooked dishes. All of it is great to share.
And because you need a home and you’d like to be fancy stay at the Shangri-La’s-Eros Hotel*. This hotel is located in Connaught Place, safest neighborhood in New Delhi. From the outside the hotel is not very impressive but it is a fantastic place to make home. The rooms are spacious with an open view on the foggy city. The staff and room service team are very helpful and attentive. There is a nice enclosed pool around the corner from the patio and a great selection of restaurants. More about this hotel here.
Notes on eating: I’ve heard of people acclimatizing their stomachs to the local water and vegetables but didn’t want to take the risk. So as advised, well by everyone, I’ll do the same: don’t drink the tap water, only drink cocktails if the ice is purified, don’t drink milk or eat soft dairy, don’t eat any sort of vegetables or street food. Peelable fruits are fine (oranges, bananas) but I was repeatedly pulled away from every watermelon I put my eyes on.