A Very Small Hotel

Secret Delhi: The Petite Hotel.

If you thought the only place you could find an Italian pensione in Delhi was in the well-worn pages of a copy of A Room with a View, think again. Tucked into a little lane off Flagstaff Road in Civil Lines is the diminutive Petite Hotel, with a pocket handkerchief garden and ten bedrooms. The garden is shaded by a bower of flowers. Set with cane stools and tables, it can actually accommodate 28 people and despite its flowery appearance can be used as a conference site. In the driveway lounges a not-so-petite Labrador wearing an oversize superman nightshirt.

The hotel was started about three years ago by playwright Arun Kuckreja, whose grandfather had started a hotel in Chandni Chowk in 1911. This house and land was apparently sold to Kuckreja’s father by Salman Rushdie’s father, adding to the historical charm of the locale.

Each room is slightly different. There are two suites: one has a Jacuzzi and the other a piano. One room is on the roof and two open out into a miniature kitchen garden.

This particular hotel is still a quiet and affordable getaway, with rooms starting at Rs 2,000 per night. In the Tourism Ministry’s “gold” category of properties, the quality of service is good enough that the Oberoi Maidens often sends overflow clients to stay here. Other guests mostly include foreign tourists and occasionally business travellers. The nicest thing about the hotel is that it is completely free of noise pollution.

“This is heaven,” says Kuckreja, “compared to the crowded lanes of Chandni Chowk or Paharganj.” Appropriately enough —another secret for those who long for an authentic (and air-conditioned) Chandni Chowk experience —Kuckreja has plans to convert three rooms in a haveli in the market into another petite hotel.

4-A Flagstaff Road, Civil Lines (6519-0511).

This story was originally published in Time Out Delhi‘s “Secret City” cover story.

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