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Delhi city guide—what to do, where to stay & the best places to eat & drink in India's most intense city

Unless you’re headed to the relaxed Keralan coast or planning to party in Goa, India can be an overwhelming travel destination. Delhi is definitely more intense than the usual tourist hotspots but it offers a real taste of India. Whatever you’re interested in, there’s an abundance of high-end hotels, restaurants and spas as well as incredible street food and wonderful under the radar buildings that  rival the Taj Mahal. 

indian man wearing pink turban sitting on a step in delhi
Colourful Delhi

I spent just over a week in the capital and based myself at the Roseate. The hotel is set in lush gardens that provide a calming oasis just outside the city. It’s ideal if you want a few days to relax and unwind before you head into the bustle of the city center. Choose a room that faces out to the pool, so you’ll get your own little patio area, perfect for cocktails after an evening dip. 

double bed and bath inside hotel room at roseate hotel delhi
My room at the Roseate

A huge highlight of Delhi for me was the food. I loved discovering different dishes and places to escape the crowded streets for a quick bite. Friends told me about the perfect place for a spot of lunch; Carnatic Cafe in New Friends Colony market. They serve the best South Indian food—including the most authentic filter coffee and coconut chutney. Make sure you try the Malleshwaram 18th Cross, a dosa named after a famous street in Bangalore.

One of the best things I did in Delhi was An Old Delhi Street Food Tour with Anubhav, (founder of Delhi Food Walks). The authentic butter chicken, aloo chaat and delicious kebabs from Karims will leave you craving them long after you’ve left India. You’ll also get to learn so much about the labyrinth-like lanes of Chandni Chowk and Chawri Bazaar, which is an experience in itself.

man holding kebab over fire at karims in old delhi
Karim's kebabs

You can even get incredible sushi, (yes sushi in Delhi!). Head over to roof top restaurant Town Hall in Khan Market, where you can enjoy superb sushi, dim sum and drinks in hip surroundings. I was also introduced to newly opened EK bar, in Defence Colony, a fun place to while away hot evenings with an icy cocktail. Decorated impeccably with bright elephant murals, they have a fabulously fun menu, make sure you check out the roof terrace to sip on their signature drink; The Royal Indian Punch. Served in a dainty floral teacup this delicious mix of whisky, fermented kahwa tea, pink grapefruit and spices, pure perfection.

If you’re in the mood for some music check out the gorgeously old-school Piano Man Jazz Club in Safdarjung Enclave market. It's a tightly packed, intimate place with tons of live gigs and jazz movie screenings, plus their chandelier is made of trumpets. 

During the day be sure to see one of the most beautiful temples in India: Humayun's Tomb in Nizamuddin East. Built in 1570, it was the first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent and inspired many other major architectural innovations. I visited this world heritage site on a weekday afternoon and it was blissfully quiet. 

three boys walking outside the front of humayuns tomb in delhi india
Humayun's Tomb

A visit to Delhi isn't complete without a trip to Gandhi Smriti. This house is where Gandhi spent the last 144 days of his life before he was assassinated on 30th January 1948. The memorial makes an interesting half-day trip where you can view many of Gandhi's belongings, the room where he lived and the spot where he was shot. It's a peaceful, contemplative place and there's a good book shop on site. I also discovered the artist Amrita Sher-Gil on this trip, through the recommendation of a friend. Sometimes described as India's Frida Kahlo, Sher-Gil's short life was as fascinating as Kahlo's. The National Gallery of Modern Art houses the majority of her paintings as well as rotating exhibitions from other artists. As well as providing free daily tours the gallery hosts film sessions too.

back of indian women wearing pink and gold sari in delhi india

Delhi is an intense city, so after a hard day of city bustle check out Monsoon Salon (there's eight branches throughout Delhi and Gurgaon). I tried many treatments at the Dwarka store including a massage, manicure and wax, plus had the best pedicure of my life with a therapist called Boby.

Rooms start from £132 per night.

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