I was traveling to India for the first time and a friend recommended Hotel Florence. I was hesitating between a large five star establishment with all the bells and whistles and this boutique hotel. Choosing to stay at Hotel Florence was the best decision I made. It was impeccably clean; the staff could not have been nicer. It offers a more intimate experience and the possibility to meet other travelers. I shared a car one morning with a woman from Australia who struck up a conversation in the lobby.
I had prearranged an airport car transfer, which was a bit problematic. I was waiting inside the terminal where drivers held signs, but my driver was waiting outside in another area also set-up for pick-up. Who knew, so make sure you know, which area you need to be in to avoid frustration after a long flight.
If you are looking for an experience to feel a pulse of what daily life is like in New Delhi, Hotel Florence is for you. Life is happening all around the hotel. It is a central working-class neighborhood. The streets are a hectic dichotomy of modern and century old tradition; traffic is loud and noisy, animals are roaming free, people are running from shop to shop or heading for the metro; commuting to and from work. Traffic starts at 9h00 and suddenly quiets down around 21h30. After work time, a street near the hotel closes to car traffic (not sure if it happens every evening). Temporary vendors fill the crowded street, while shops stay open late. It is lively, colorful and overwhelming in a good way.
Inside the hotel you are greeted with smiling faces. There is a bit of paperwork to get you registered. A bellman then assists you to your room. Tip him at least 50 rupees. The rooms are decorated with contemporary panache. They are large with all modern conveniences and tranquilly comfortable. Modern conveniences and a comfy bed with crisp linen, reassure the weary traveler. Be aware that some rooms are windowless. There is also a phone for the floor attendant in the hallway, which if not turned down can be annoying in the evening.
There is a cozy restaurant on the top floor. A breakfast buffet has both western and Indian dishes. It is not a cornucopia of food but your choices are certainly more then adequate and abundant. Indian breakfast consist of both spicy and perfumed sweet dishes. It is different but quite tasty.
I ate dinner at the hotel restaurant every evening. It was a welcomed moment of serenity and easier after a long day of city adventure. The meals are prepared fresh and the spice level can be adjusted to your liking. I enjoyed different aromatic dishes, which delighted the taste buds. Add a cool lassie or some refreshing Raita, which can calm the spice bite if you misjudged your tolerance.
Arranged by the hotel, car hire with driver is how I started my tourist exploration. It was an easy way to initiate discovery and alleviate the pressure of trying to figure out moving great distances around the traffic-ridden city, especially with jet lag. I worked out a day’s itinerary with the hotel concierge, which was explained to the driver. Drivers speak English but you want to avoid being taken to uninteresting shops qualifying them for commissions. I had to be very firm with one driver who insisted on me getting out of the car; I refused. My time was short; with ambitious objectives and where he took me was not one of them. It was displeasing in view of the fact that the location was also far off route. I tipped each chauffer 100 rupees for an eight-hour day.
After a few days and adjusting to my surrounding, I decided it was time to take public transportation. It was a ten-minute walk from the hotel. The system is efficient, easy to use, clean, air-conditioned, and safe and it moves you quicker around the city. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. There were not many westerners using the system. You have to go through metal detectors to enter a station and if you are carrying bags they get x-ray scanned. This can slow you down but not as much as street traffic. There seems to be more men in the metro then woman so that line is longer. Sexes are separated for a pat down.
I am not a price haggler, and if you want an easy shopping experience I highly recommend shopping at Fabindia. Their prices and quality are excellent and they have a strong integrity towards fair trade. Check out their website and locations. Also a great venue to explore is Central Cottage Industries Emporium. A multi level government shop near Connaught Place. They display set prices and a vast variety of handcrafted items such as paper goods, jewelry, home furnishing, clothing, scarves and so on. You give your selected items to a vendor. They will give you a purchasing receipt and when finished you go to a central cashier to pay. As you leave the store, head to the pick-up area with receipts in hand to collected your bagged items.
The Florence Inn is the sister property of Hotel Florence. It is in the same area but closer to the metro. I gave it a once over. It is a lovely property. The style is with more of an Indian flair. It has the same comforts and it is set back off the street. If you wish an easier access to public transportation then you cannot go wrong by staying there.
Remember you have to be somewhat forgiving in India because it does present challenges, which westerners might find frustrating. Go with it, be charmed by it, do not fight it and you will have a more enjoyable experience. I traveled for three weeks without getting sick. Be prudent, eat yoghurt at the end of each meal, use common sense, like do not eat a salad or raw vegetables, and use bottled water to brush your teeth. It is a country filled with cultural riches and passionate stories. Talk to people. They are open, curious and good-natured.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Amongst the finest downtown hotels located in the heart of the city. At the Hotel Florence, you are looked after by the people who respect and value the word "Hospitality." Situated just minutes away from the city centre, world class shopping and prime business districts, Hotel Florence is a haven of tranquil elegance located amidst the vibrant city of Delhi. Choose from our full service well appointed, tastefully designed Executive Rooms, Premium rooms, & Deluxe rooms. Free Wifi ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Florence Hotel New Delhi