In the recent years of India’s economic boom, there has been an exponential increase in the numbers of businessmen and trade delegations travelling to India from overseas. One unfortunate result has been that hotel prices in the major cities have soared to stratospheric heights. In many people’s experience, the most expensive hotels are in Mumbai, especially in the Juhu Beach / Airport area (even 3-star ones). Consequently budget-conscious foreign tourists need to research the hotel market carefully to avoid a serious depletion of their funds when visiting the major cities of India.
For (non-business) Indian and foreign visitors to the capital, Delhi, a very welcome development, and an antidote to this severe budget problem has been the recent healthy increase in the number of small guesthouses, or B and B (bed and breakfast) establishments, run by modest Delhi entrepreneurs, usually at affordable prices. They are easily locatable on the Internet.
It was my good fortune to find one of the best of these establishments for a recent extended stay in the capital city: ‘On the House’, in the South Delhi middle-class, ultra-secure, gated community of Safdarjung Enclave.
In its seven rooms, ‘On the House’ offers not only tastefully decorated peaceful rooms but also 24 hour service by a staff of 3. Nothing is too much for them, from breakfast, which is free, to room service and dinner if required (vegetarian or non-veg.) – all at very modest prices (a cup of tea or coffee, for example, costs 50 cents.) Also available are cheap laundry services, a reliable taxi service to nearby shopping malls or to the centre of Delhi – at $10 for 4 HOURS, or short motor rickshaw rides for $1-$2 (for example to the nearby Hyatt Regency, for a splurge meal or to indulge in alcoholic beverages, especially wine, which is not easily obtainable). Other recommended local venues for taxi or rickshaw travel are Khan Market (with a money changer and an excellent bookshop), Ansal Plaza, Sarojini Market and, for Indian and Asian crafts at bargain prices, the extensive market at Dilli Haat.
At On the House, the level of personal service from Ashish and Roger is superb – and very friendly. No request fazes them, or the owner, Ms Aradhna Lanba, or ever-helpful Mr Nanda. Safe and well-priced excursions to Agra, hill stations like Mussoorie or Shimla, sacred Hindu sites like Rishikesh and Haridwar, or to Le Corbusier’s Chandigarh, can also be arranged with reliable travel agencies. If you have an extended stay in Delhi, Ms Lanba can even arrange Hindi lessons from professional teachers for you (but if you can afford this extra service, for the best results, consider learning some basic structures and vocabulary before going to India to make further linguistic progress).
The rooms, lounge and roof Gazebo of On the House are very tastefully decorated, giving an Indian and Asian environment. A further major advantage over those exorbitantly priced hotels is that you actually meet and converse with an interesting variety of fellow guests, Indian and foreign. A selection of books, DVDs, maps, and guidebooks is available to guests.
For the traveller, this is a very pleasant home from home, an oasis from the noise and dust and insecurity of the teeming streets of Delhi. The guestbook gives evidence that many visitors return to ‘On the House’ – or reside there for prolonged periods if working for a foreign company in Delhi. Advanced booking is therefore very necessary, and if you can afford the small extra charge, try to book the beautiful Gulmohar room or the Oak or Mulberry rooms. Details HERE.