New Delhi’s original power hotel, the Imperial opened in 1936. It was here, rather than Connaught Place (headquarters of the British Raj), that Pandit Nehru, Mahatama Gandhi, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and Lord Mountbatten met to discuss the partition of India and creation of Pakistan. Though renovation has lent a bit of a corporate vibe to the high-ceilinged marble hallways, the hotel still oozes nostalgia. A vast, museum-worthy collection of life-size oil portraits features princely rulers, statuary, tapestries, old photographs, and artifacts including British and Indian military and polo regalia. Rooms come in Victorian, Indian heritage, and art deco decors. The centerpiece of the green, palm-studded lawn is a huge, beautifully tiled swimming pool where solicitous turbaned, red uniformed staff deliver ice-cold drinks to sunbathers in New Delhi
’s stultifying heat.