Previously known as Madras, Chennai is perched on the Bay of Bengal in eastern India, and is the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu. A blend of the old and the new, the city has a vibrant cultural scene, with art, dance and drama at the fore and many points of historic interest, including Hindu temples, churches and museums. It’s home to the world’s second-largest urban beach, a 6km stretch of natural sands that are perfect for catching some rays (although not suitable for bathing). The area’s coffees and currys are unique, so be sure to sample some local fare.
ITC Grand Chola, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Chennai
An architectural tribute to the Imperial Cholas, this palatial building accommodates a whopping 600 bedrooms and apartments, three outdoor pools (one is dedicated for families), a full-service spa and shops, as well as 10 venues for eating and drinking. LEED Platinum certified the ten-storey hotel’s eco credentials are impressive, with an excellent reputation for waste management and its own wind and solar farms to generate onsite electricity. Suites offer round-the-clock butler service and an entire floor is set apart for single female travellers. ITC Grand Chola is found beside Alexander Square’s park.
The Leela Palace Chennai – Seaside Modern Palace Hotel
A majestic colonial-style landmark on the city’s coastline, The Leela Palace occupies 4.8 acres of shoreline. Inside are award-winning Chinese and Indian restaurants, an international buffet, elegant high-teas served in a seaview lounge, an old-world cigar bar offering cocktails and caviar and a French-inspired patisserie/chocolatier shop. A carefully curated art collection can be viewed throughout the property and the hotel has its own ensemble of musicians taking guests on a voyage of Carnatic music. 326 rooms and suites spread across 11 floors are suitably grand, as are the spa and the pool areas.
Taj Club House, Chennai
Found in a salubrious residential neighbourhood, historically popular with illustrious Brits, the Taj Club House is instantly recognisable by its 45000 sq.ft neon blue glass façade. This, and 220 rooms (some with butler service), were designed by Thom Catallo, creating an on-trend retreat for business, as well as leisure travellers. The Taj’s polished signature restaurant, The Club House, is complemented by its Brew cafe and the Blend cocktail bar with a pulsating vibe. Jiva Spa has a menu of rituals and treatments, inspired by local culture and you can unwind on a plush lounger beside the rooftop pool.
Taj Coromandel, Chennai
Experience South Indian hospitality, indigenous culture and understated luxury with a stay at this five-star residence (sister property of the Taj Club House) in the heart of the city. Check in here and you can swim in the lagoon-style 25-metre pool, relax in a curved lounger, book a treatment at the Jiva Grande Spa and take yoga classes from esteemed local teachers. Meals can be taken in the majestic Southern Spice or the healthy buffet restaurant, Anise; order dim sum at the Chinese-themed Golden Dragon and Italian food at Prego; with flamboyant cocktails mixed at the Chipstead bar.