On a good day, it takes an hour and a half to drive from the Kempegowda International Airport to Bengaluru’s plush HAL Airport Road neighbourhood where The Leela Palace Bengaluru stands tall in all its glory.
I had prepared myself for the long drive from the airport, into the notorious traffic of the Garden City but around an hour into the drive, the landscape starts changing. The city’s seemingly endless periphery thins out as we leave the last of the highway and enter what is called the garden city, and rightfully so. Amidst the concrete jungle is a peppering of canopying trees blooming with flowers, magnificent gardens on the side of the road, and the sky peeks from between the leaves, bathing us in balmy sunlight.
As we snake past shaded roads that have an old-world charm synonymous with the city, The Leela Palace Bengaluru emerges from behind a hedgerow of sheltering trees. The pastel pink and moss green façade is hard to miss, and you realise, you’ve arrived at your destination. The din of the city is drowned out by birdsong, and you’re left baffled by how you’ve escaped the concrete jungle and entered an oasis of serenity.
The moment I step out of the car and into the hotel, the first thing I see is the botanical wonder around which the hotel is built. The sprawling estate nestled across a land of seven lush acres seeks inspiration from the architecture of the Royal Palace of Mysore and the garden city itself as the lawn curves around the property, allowing residents access throughout. From my perch at the far end of the lobby, I watch as the sun drenches the green landscape in warm rays. A pathway cups around the lawns towards a beautiful lagoon nestled in a secluded corner, which I make a mental note of exploring around sunset.
Escaping The Mundane
The palatial hotel looms above offering guests a range of accommodation options from balcony rooms to terrace suites and maharaja suites. Each room, done up in a royal, earthy aesthetic with nature-inspired elements, comes kitted out with The Leela Palace’s signature Tishya Bath & Body Amenities as well as a cosy balcony with a view of the stunning garden below. As I settle into the room and pick from a selection of teas, I feel a sense of calm envelop me. While this stylish hotel would make a serene getaway anywhere, in the busy city of Bengaluru, it feels more like a discovery of peace.
True to style, The Leela Palace Bengaluru is elegant and imperial with subtle tones. The iconic restaurant Jamavar sits nestled in the far corner of the hotel, giving guests the opportunity to experience a melange of flavours in secluded privacy. Next to it resides Zen if you fancy an exotic escape filled with aromas, tastes, and textures of Asia. We decide to try out Citrus, one of the most popular restaurants in the hotel. Famished, I dig into the delicious spread, picking from a selection of European, Asian, and Indian fares. Starting off slow with a hummus platter, I know I’ll be spoilt for choice when I see a sprawling salad bar and a few steps beyond, the gourmet woodfired pizza station. Enjoying how fresh the food tastes, I end my lunch with an assortment of desserts; everything from strawberry pastries to crème brûlées and chocolate tarts to linzer tortes, let’s just say I am a happy camper as the afternoon comes to a close.
Slow Living At Its Best
Once I pry myself away from the food, curated by Chef Simran Singh Thapar and team, I decide to explore the garden as the sun slowly starts dipping towards the horizon. A serene walk, best taken barefoot across the grass, takes me around the garden to the lotus lagoon where a few bloom from behind lush leaves. Next to it sits a calming waterfall, the sound of which lulls me into a meditative hush. I settle myself against a palm tree and let the rhythm of the water bring a sense of calm. Just as twilight sets in, I make my way toward the pool and let the lullaby of the song of the birds and rustle of the trees pull me into a restful state.
Mindfulness At Your Fingertips
In the morning, I find my way to the yoga studio tucked behind the pool where I explore the hotel’s signature wellness program Aujasya by The Leela in collaboration with Jetsynthesys’s ThinkRight.me. The holistic program allows me to indulge in healing yoga routines and meditations by simply scanning a code on my phone. A diverse selection of mindful activities under the second pillar Renew (Mindfulness) helps me choose the one that feels ideal for me.
Rejuvenated post an enriching mindfulness session, I walk down the grassy esplanade toward the hotel restaurant. Over there, I’m greeted by a choice of wellness drinks created for the first pillar of Aujasya, Restore (Food and Nutrition). In the restaurant, the team lay out a true breakfast of champions featuring fresh fruits, buttery croissants and muffins, fresh-off-the-pan dosas, and vadas, as well as Aujasya-inspired vegan and gluten-free dishes like Black Chana Hummus with Vegetable Crudites, Roast Beets, Valencia Orange and Walnut Salad, and Basil and Chia Seed Pudding, and more that are nutritious as well as soul-fulfilling. Add to it the top-notch hospitality and atithi devo bhavo ethos, and The Leela Palace Bengaluru really brings work-life balance a wonderful new meaning.
My Three Secret Spots To Find A Mindful Moment
1. By the waterfall
Finding a moment to practice mindfulness by the waterfall was one of the most memorable experiences for me throughout the two-day trip. Sitting on the damp grass and being enveloped by nature felt truly special.
2. At the yoga studio
If you’re someone who seeks complete silence, there’s no better spot than the hotel’s yoga studio. While an instructor is always available to guide you, you can always practice what you feel is right for your body.
3. Enjoying a mindful meal
One of the best meals I’ve had, the Aujasya menu was a gastronomical affair. A healthy balance of millets, lean proteins, low-fat dairy, and whole grains made the meal a culinary wonder.
My Recommendation: Himalayan Earth Bowl with its Himalayan bean tofu, roast organic, beats, garlic wilted greens, and toasted pumpkin seeds, served on a bed of Himalayan red rice kedgeree and the Quinoa Biryani with its blend of red and yellow quinoa cooked with handpicked fragrant spices and fresh vegetables, served with avocado and mint raita, and a spiced tapioca cracker.
My Favourite Spot: The garden is filled with fruit trees that attract birds of all kinds. Shaded by a canopy, it is cool and calm throughout the day, but I highly recommend the early morning hours.
My Favourite Part of the Day: Watching the colour of the sky change, casting a gorgeous golden light on the domes of the property at sunset. Best experienced from own balcony.