Tales of romance often lead us down the path to that blissful happy ending, but never further. We meet up with deeply-in-love couple Bipasha Basu and Karan Singh Grover at the Conrad Pune over an indulgent getaway, to discover what lies on the other side of marriage. By Rashima Nagpal
It is as pleasant as July evenings are in Pune—cool, breezy, and with the smell of monsoon in the air. Without wasting any time, we make our way to the luxurious Conrad Pune. It is there that the star couple—Bipasha Basu and Karan Singh Grover—are set to arrive from Mumbai, for a photo shoot, and a relaxing escape from their hectic lifestyles.
It’s a short drive to our destination from the airport, and I am pleasantly surprised by its deceptively unassuming location. Deceptive because while it is based in the heart of Pune’s business district, Hilton’s first luxury hotel in India—Conrad Pune—stands magnificently tall amidst the dense greenery of a leafy neighbourhood.
This, perhaps, is a quality inherent to Pune; opulence and simplicity blend seamlessly here. This theme of quiet luxury continues within, and I get an overwhelming sense of tastefully furnished, spacious interiors, soaring ceilings, with soft Art Deco-lighting and muted colours that lend an elegance to the setting.
Every part of the hotel reveals an enticing backdrop—whether it is the regal grace of the wide, marbled staircase in the lobby, the golden richness of Koji, the hotel’s exclusive Pan-Asian restaurant, or the sophisticated décor of the Presidential Suite.
It’s been a long day of travelling and exploration, and we’re famished by the time we head to the Coriander Kitchen, a 24-hour, multi-cuisine venue, for dinner. The beautifully created dishes of the lavish spread tempt the eyes as well as the mouth. With live counters offering gourmet versions of Indian, Asian and Mediterranean street food, a rotating ice cream bar, and a unique food ‘library’ wall serving mini portions of salads and desserts from its many shelves, we’re completely spoilt for choice.
I find the time to wander through the hotel, discovering its delights. For instance, I learn it houses the city’ s largest collection of saké, and that Masu, the hotel’s uber-chic bar, which features an absolutely stunning saké wall, is called so after the traditional square wooden boxes that saké was served in, back in the day. Needless to say, the next time you’re in Pune, you know where to head to for a glass of the finest Asian rice wine.
From Masu, I make my way to Koji. Fascinated by its décor the previous day, I wanted to know more. The restaurant has been designed by Spin, a renowned Japanese interior design company, and the ornate chandeliers are from the Czech Republic, while the origami on the walls was created by artists from Hong Kong.
Given the pleasing aesthetics, I’m not surprised that this restaurant has won as many awards as it has hearts. And while on the subject of winning hearts, I also discover the special 1/3/5 Experiences programme that Conrad has made available for its guests.
Depending on the free time one has, the concierge curates special itineraries in one-, two-, and five-hour packages that allow guests to explore the city at their own pace. This can include a visit to the ancient citadel of Shaniwar Wada, the abode of the Peshwas in the 18th century, or a stop at the grand Aga Khan Palace, a former prison and significant monument during the Indian freedom struggle—both historical landmarks lie within a proximity of five kilometres of the hotel.
Work beckons and I head to the Presidential Suite for the last shot of the day. This also happens to be where our celebrity guests are staying—the photographer thinks that it’s the perfect backdrop for a romantic picture of the couple. Spread across 164 square metres, this stylish chamber features beautiful, contemporary furnishings, a cosy study, spacious living and dining areas, a tasteful powder room—where we take our final shot—and floor-to-ceiling windows that allow for plenty of natural light, as well as stunning views over the city.
The next morning comes too soon, and it’s our last day at the Conrad Pune. We successfully wrap up the shoot mid-afternoon and gather at Pune Sugar Box, the hotel’s charming delicatessen, for a quick bite and a refreshing cuppa. My ginger-honey-lemon tea, with gooey chocolate brownies, is possibly the most comforting beverage I’ve ever had, especially welcome after our hectic schedule.
Our star couple, meanwhile, is celebrating the wrap of the shoot with an indulgent massage at the spa. In the end, one thing is clear—be it a simple cup of tea in comfortable environs or a rejuvenating therapy session, Conrad Pune and its calm affluence is certain to leave you feeling relaxed and at peace with the world.
PRODUCED BY AINDRILA MITRA
PHOTOGRAPHED BY RAHUL JHANGIANI
STYLED BY DIVYAK D’SOUZA
ASSISTED BY KEYURI SANGOI, MAYURI KATARIA AND SURYA PRATAP SINGH
HAIR AND MAKEUP FOR BIPASHA: KAJOL MULANI AND BILLY MANIK
HAIR AND MAKEUP FOR KARAN: RITESH CHUDASAMA AND DINESH PATIL