High-rolling in Delhi

After a month of Yoga Teacher Training and 10 days hiking the Himalayas, we were back to civilization in New Delhi.

In the past five weeks, I had eaten meat once (goat stew), drunk one beer (Kingfisher- blergh), completed 100+ hours of yoga in 110-degree heat and lost countless pounds due to extreme physical exercise and a diet of lentils.

It was time for some fun. And some air-conditioning.

So after dropping off Alice at the airport, Joe, McCall and I headed straight to Le Méridien, courtesy of McCall’s SPG points.

I was thrilled not only to stay in a luxury hotel, but to feel air-conditioning on my skin and to have power that didn’t go out 15 times a day.

And then in one of those ironic, are-you-flipping-kidding-me-India moments, the power went out in the entire hotel while I was in the elevator. India, you got me good.


On our first night back in civilization, we gussied ourselves up and headed to Le Méridien’s cocktail lounge for some complimentary snacks and champagne. Upon the first sip of bubbly, I was reminded why I will never give up alcohol for a prolonged period of time ever again.


That night we headed to Varq, a swanky restaurant where Joe sweetly bought us dinner along with many bottles of wine. I have generally good feelings about the night but don’t remember precise details- apparently champagne and I had too intense a reunion.

The next day we headed to Agra to see the Taj Majal, an adventure that deserves its own post.

When we returned to Delhi, we stayed at Leela Palace, one of the most luxurious hotels in India.

And how did we come to stay in such a nice hotel, you may be wondering? Well hours before the Himalayan trek I realized I had forgotten to book a hotel for our return so I shot my dad a quick email- I needed a cheap hotel in Delhi, please put it on my credit card.

But instead of booking a crappy hotel on my card, he booked a really nice hotel on his.

When we waltzed in, a string quartet and a lobby full of lilies greeted us. My singular thought was, OH MY GOD THANK YOU SO MUCH DAD.

Sidenote- my dad is ridiculously thoughtful and knew I would be craving luxury after not showering for 10 days. When I asked why he chose Leela Palace he said, “It seemed like the kind of hotel where I would stay.” The man has good taste.

Also what’s great about India is that this five-star hotel cost only $200 a night- a bargain.



Apologies for the poor iPhone photos, but Leela Palace was amazing. The bed was made of angel’s wings and the bathtub had a TV and was about four feet deep. As we settled into our room, a waiter brought us homemade lemon iced tea on a silver tray.

While we only got one night in the lap of luxury, it sure was blissful.Leela_palace_delhi_3

Leela_palace_delhi_4Have I ever mentioned how much I adore room service?


One night we went to Bukhara, a fancy restaurant where the Clintons have dined. Okay yeah, Bukhara is touristy and wildly overpriced for India. But the food was insane- I don’t think I’ll ever stop dreaming of the ridiculously tender lamb skewers.


Cooking class Delhi

We also did some cultural stuff, okay?

I love home-cooking classes, so on our last night in India we signed up for Farheen Cooking Class. Farheen, our chatty, pink-cheeked instructor, taught us how to make lots of our Indian favorites: chapati, parantha, chai, paneer butter masala and lentils.


I learned a ton. Who knew chapati and roti are the same thing, just called by different names?

Also Farheen told us that North Indian cuisine is spicier and uses mustard seed oil and wheat flour, while South Indian relies on coconut oil and rice or white chickpea flour. Someday I’d love to travel to South India to taste the difference firsthand.

When we asked if her husband helped in the kitchen, Farheen laughed. “Men in India don’t cook!”

She also taught us tikka means cooked in a tandoor. I probably should’ve known that.

Indian_cooking_class_Delhi_1The spices used to make chai…

Indian_cooking_class_Delhi_chaiHomemade chai, which is crazy delicious…


Making paneer butter masala, my favorite…




So yeah, we had a great time in Delhi. We both ate and slept in style, capping off our trip with a bit of luxury.

And then- Joe and I were off to Thailand. With only one problem- we were flying into Bangkok during a military coup. So stay tuned for that adventure!

Mini Luxury Delhi Guide

Where to stay: Le Méridien, Leela Palace

Where to eat: Varq, Bukhara

What to do: The Red Fort, home-cooking class

Have you ever visited Delhi? Did you live it up like we did or travel more moderately?

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About Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is a travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since college she has au paired in Paris, backpacked the world solo, and lived in Uganda. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and Glamour Magazine.

35 thoughts on “High-rolling in Delhi”

  1. Your dad is so sweet! That sounds like something my Dad would do, too. I’m wondering how you chose the cooking class over (I’m guessing) many other options. I’ll be traveling in Kerala in January and would love to take a cooking class, but I’m not sure how to figure out which one is best since there are so many options and very little information!

    Loved seeing all the food pics. Makes me hungry!

  2. One of my biggest fears is getting trapped in an elevator! I have to use an elevator in my apartment building in Jakarta. And since power outages are a relatively common occurrence here, I constantly think about being in the elevator during a power outage. It totally freaks me out. I guess things like that are just part of traveling, but I hope you weren’t trapped in there for too long!

  3. While a brief stay, luxury, culture, and good food are all that it takes to make a trip memorable to me :) Both hotels looked amazing and how sweet of your dad to upgrade you! Your Indian cooking class is definitely something I would want to do while there, those chais look delicious.
    Haven’t been to Delhi yet but I would definitely be living it up.

    • The chai was SO good. Making authentic chai takes a lot of effort, but it’s worlds better than Starbucks! Plus, if you make it yourself you can tone down the sweetness- in India it’s cloyingly sweet.

  4. that’s awesome. I think we’re all entitled to a little luxury now and then, especially after 5 weeks of intensity. I would love to take a cooking class in india- such good food. I’ve been slowly learning to cook sichuanese food.

  5. I’m currently planning a trip to India and saw Farheen Cooking Class on TripAdvisor and was considering booking it. It was so nice to read your personal review, and now I think I’m definitely going to do it!

  6. This was so beautiful!
    Fantastic to read!
    What a sweet Dad even too!
    And such a “happy” post!
    Great stuff! Keep on!
    Cheers! – Leah

  7. What a nice surprise from your dad. A bit of luxury is always awesome, especially when it is such a contrast to where you were before! I once turned up on the local bus for a few days at an all-inclusive resort in Turkey, and remember being particularly dazzled by the shininess of it all.

  8. What a crazily great time you had in Delhi! I have lived there for over a decade. Recently moved to South India. Loved your Leela Palace description and pictures. Sounds like you lapped up the luxury to the fullest.

  9. I loved my time in India last year, and actually quite enjoyed Delhi (more than I was expecting to!). I was on a backpacker budget so didn’t have quite the same experience as you, but wow what a lovely treat from your Dad! That is such a sweet gesture, there is nothing quite like a bit of luxury after you have had a challenging few weeks! :)

  10. Can I have your dad’s e-mail? lol.

    I’m in South India for a month touring the jungles of Karnataka and eating only South Indian. I prefer Goan.. then North… then South.. so then will be an interesting month lol so sick of RICE! buuuut they do a mean dosa and pork curry down here!

  11. Awwww! What a wonderful father and indeed, with fantastic taste. Yes!

    I love this post Ashley. It’s nice to see some good things out of India and certaintly, they know how to roll out the red carpet LOL!

    I love all the hotels you went to and the cooking course. What an excellent idea and since I love Indian food, the next time I’m in India, I’ll do the same!

    Yes, I’ve visited Delhi but my hotel was moderate as I was travelling solo. My room was an executive deluxe place for $25 per night! There was no way that I was going to spend a night at less than “deluxe LOL!”
    Now that I’m older, I would be willing to spend some of my dollars on comfort at the end of my next Indian adventure.

  12. I think you spent a world Class movements during your Yoga, but as you called that movement was so embarrassing when we go out from civilize area. But as human being thought that Luxury Life is so good but we must accept that any luxury will affect our protecting power. But every single man wants to live Luxury life. And Hotel Leela is the powerful example of Luxury.

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