Gazing at the virtual postcards of The Postcard Hotel’s idyllic new property, some kilometres away from the city of Mangalore, a gushing sentiment takes over — that of therapeutic travelling. Christened The Postcard on the Arabian Sea, the property in Karnataka stands as a resounding translation of a true seaside escapade; a hidden, undiscovered gem at that.
Roosted on the sequestered coast of Maravanthe Beach in the Udupi district, The Postcard’s new venue carouses in the company of itself and of the dulating stretches and sounds of the sea and swaying palm trees.
Living the postcard life
With a collection of ten rooms and suites — each caressed with endless vistas of the sand and sea — comfort and indulgence become the winning synonyms of The Postcard on the Arabian Sea, championing the quintessence of The Postcard Hotel founded by Kapil Chopra, a cluster of private, luxury boutique hotels nested in the most holiday-esque locales across India and the world.
“The Postcard on the Arabian Sea is not only perfectly positioned to indulge in all that coastal Karnataka has to offer, but the location of the resort itself, on a near private pristine beach, is what convinced us on this being a perfect postcard location,” divulges Kapil.
With setting benchmarks comes the exigency to be responsible. While the design of the rooms is visibly influenced by its immediate environ, that of the easy tropicals, the basis of its architecture and facade went beyond.
Helmed by Akshat Bhatt, Principal Architect, Architecture Discipline, he recalls, “The Postcard on the Arabian Sea is one of India’s first resorts located in a high tide zone. The coastal location poses challenges such as high winds, heavy rainfall, high tides, high humidity all year round and compliance with the CRZ regulations. We employ a prefabricated hybrid steel and light gauge frame structural system for the double-storeyed cottages to reduce in-situ construction on the sensitive site. They are also tactfully propped on stilts to minimise impact and protect the structures from seawater.”
Architecture is public art, and we hold ourselves accountable to the communities and places we build in. We must build responsibly, with minimum or ideally no damage, to a region and its people, he signs off. With its proclivity for the simple joys of getaways, The Postcard Hotel has been accorded as ‘Asia’s Leading Boutique Hotel Brand’, while The Postcard on the Arabian Sea, has been voted as ‘Asia’s Leading Boutique Hotel’ at the globally recognised World Travel Awards 2023.
Between expected and unexpected
An exemplary discourse on food finds its way to the property where regionality informs the spread on the table, thanks to its coastal threshold that commands a variety of flavours. “Our commitment to celebrating this remarkable region is also reflected in our carefully crafted menus, influenced by the rich culinary local cuisines of the Bunt, Goud Saraswat, Catholic, and Konkani Muslim communities,” confirms Kapil.
Charting the boundaries of solace and adventures, the bespoke boutique hotel unassumingly transpires into a reason for escape, rejuvenation and connection with the self.
Things to do around The Postcard on the Arabian Sea:
Disconnecting from work or taking a long hiatus has often proved counterproductive for me. Because often, I require nothing more than a pen and paper to embark on fresh endeavours or seamlessly pick up where I last left off at my workstation. Consequently, the prospect of my journey to the paradisiacal Four Seasons’ islands in the Maldives appeared paradoxical at first glance — an apparent contradiction.
Despite its elemental simplicity, encompassing only the interplay of the sun, seas, skies and sand, the allure of this tropic remains undeniable. What transpired was a revelation beyond comprehension, as the mesmerising expanse of the Maldives’ crystalline sea unveiled an incomprehensible beauty that defied all expectations or cliches.
Five days and three islands. Kuda Huraa, Landaa Giraavaru (located at the Baa Atoll UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve) and Voavah (a private island) welcomed me with what the islanders call “challenging weather conditions,” which aren’t conducive for the seas to be at their bluest best. Yet, it treated me to some of the most extraordinary vistas with just the right amount of drizzle and optimal sunshine all framed within architecture designed to precisely exalt such moments.
The design and experience is further underlined by their unwavering efforts to preserve the local flora and fauna through their Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) program which could keep someone like me occupied for hours on end. For those inclined towards a touch more dynamism, a plethora of invigorating physical pursuits await. For all others, the boundless sea and captivating architecture of Four Seasons Maldives stand ready to embrace one in timeless leisure.
As you wander through the idyllic town of Bera in Rajasthan, nestled in the picturesque Java Dam region, a hidden gem emerges along the muddy tracks of a sprawling forest — a true oasis of tranquillity — the WelcomHeritage Cheetahgarh Resort & Spa, envisioned by Rohit and Saba Kapoor, Co-founders of Nivasa, a design studio known for crafting bespoke interiors and furniture.
With each step, the beauty of the resort’s natural surroundings unfolds, revealing a sanctuary that promises an unforgettable escape.
As you approach the resort, a clubhouse stands opposite the reception. The inviting swimming pool tempts you to take an unhesitating dip, a moment of blissful relaxation. The resort’s design, adorned with a touch of minimalism, exudes simplicity and elegance, creating an ambiance of comfort and familiarity with its charming chalets, tents, and two-level rooms.
Distinct alcoves — a perfect escapade
“The clients, who are passionate about wildlife, were eager to establish their first resort in the Jawai area due to the incredible leopard sightings that can be experienced here,” recalls Rohit. This enthralling experience is made possible through daily early-morning safaris conducted by the resort itself.
There are a total of ten cottages in WelcomHeritage Cheetahgarh Resort, four of which envelope private pools. There are also two lakeside villas with four rooms, including a suite. As we venture deeper, to the left-hand side, lies an expansive lakeside, bordered by a splendid granite rock formation, continuing the destination’s asperous character. Sitting high on this ancient rock, two sturdy concrete edifices welcome guests with four generously open rooms.
In the heart of Cheetahgarh, tucked away amidst the lush jungle, one also witnesses charming chalets, dubbed huts. And as one navigates further, amidst the placid surroundings, luxurious tents are nested, blending repose with a touch of wilderness.
But that’s not all. Tucking in pockets of surprises, WelcomHeritage Cheetahgarh Resort also hosts an alfresco cafe, a lounge bar, a spa, and an outdoor pool!
Tones of tranquillity
The resort has a charming and sophisticated ambiance, with a glistening blue swimming pool and appealing attributes such as an organic kitchen garden. Every part of the resort exudes charm that comes alive, thanks to the palette of off-white, brown and white. This creates a warm and cosy atmosphere, making guests feel right at home. “The property showcases a harmonious design language featuring soft hues and exquisite furniture pieces and accessories that add vibrancy to the spaces,” outlines Rohit.
As guests explore the resort, they encounter rooms with pleasant surprises. These rooms have playful touches of earthy colours, akin to adding accessories to neutral garbs. Each room has been crafted to engulf its own sense of individuality, ensuring no two rooms look alike. Whether you’re strolling through the verdant gardens near the lake, admiring the opulent facade, or exploring meticulously curated interiors, each space is designed as an immersive corner to idle away time without two thoughts.
The environ around
Deliberating on the carefully carved sanctum of laidback adventure, that is the Cheetahgarh Resort, Rohit reminisces about the arduous challenge that first faced him and the team because of the rugged and wobbling hard rock terrain. “The primary concern was to create structures that seamlessly coexisted with the natural surroundings, without causing any harm to the rock or disturbing the delicate ecosystem.”
As a revelrous outcome of this, however, all the eight rooms across the two villas find their calm in the ceaseless views of the lake and the inhabitants, from the elusive crocodiles and petite pelicans to the great falcons!
Spiritual. Sentient. Sacred. These words only begin to touch the surface of Bodh Gaya, a town in Bihar, in the northeastern part of India. The destination is widely regarded as the place where the Buddha received enlightenment – hence also often called ‘the enlightened one’ – making Bodh Gaya one of the holiest and oldest pilgrimage sites in the world. These sentiments come bundled up at this serene, sprawling hotel pronounced as a meditative design venue by SJK Architects and its partners Shimul Javeri Kadri, Vaishali Mangalvedhekar, Sarika Shetty and Roshni Kshirsagar, spread over 76,000 sq ft.
Catering to religious tourism in the area, the Marasa Sarovar Premiere hotel, not far from the Mahabodhi Temple, encompasses 78 rooms, and is divided into two blocks — north for public use, and south for guest rooms. The public spaces are arranged around a courtyard that forms the physical and emotional heart of the hotel. Dividing the blocks is a linear waterbody with floating lotuses that are synonymous with purity in Buddhism.
Tugging at memory and emotion
Embodying the tenets of Buddhism, the hotel uses memory and emotion to immerse one into the architecture. Memory is tapped into through features reminiscent of traditional Buddhist architecture. Vaults, corbelled arches and stepped jambs are given a contemporary face-lift at this hotel. Emotions are invoked through spaces that make one feel as though they are viewing the different phases of life. The Buddhist ethos of simplicity, compassion and serenity are conveyed through a series of gestures.
Seeping into the modern design of the artwork and signage are Buddhist philosophy and symbology. Easing navigation are the five pearls of wisdom expressed in the five public spaces. Each pearl of wisdom is associated with a mudra – a symbolic hand gesture – which is further associated with specific colours, seasons and elements. The public space of the spa-gym-pool represents the wisdom of ‘oneness with the earth’. It is associated with the colour blue that is reflected on the walls of the pool. The connection with the season of winter is represented through the motif of a bare tree on one of the walls. This pearl of wisdom is linked with the symbol of the vajra – an object extensively used in Tibetan Buddhist rituals – that is seen through an abstracted wall pattern.
An immersion into Buddhism
In keeping with the Buddhist philosophy of respect and concern for all life, the roof of the hotel is made of locally made tiles which bring about an earthy visual appeal. The architects collaborated with 26 local families in 12 villages around Bodh Gaya to get 80,000 clay tiles handcrafted.
With a play of scale and proportion using courtyards, verandahs, arches and windows, the human scale is embraced. Forming a calming and tranquil envelope is a soothing colour palette of muted whites and warm terracotta.
The sky and the earth
Along with Buddhist philosophies, the hotel is influenced by the local climate of the region. The blocks are oriented in such a way that energy consumption is low and the indoor temperatures are comfortable in all seasons.
The site is located on a low-lying paddy field, in close proximity to the Falgu river, which floods the nearby regions during monsoons. Hence, the architects mindfully decided to raise the site to prevent submerging. In the process, a pond was traced out in the lowest portion, on the eastside of the property, to double up as an emergency water holding area during flash floods. Rainwater is collected into a number of underground harvesting pits. These deep pits hold the water until it seeps into the earth.
Imbuing a sense of calm with a meditative palette and by carving zen boroughs throughout, the team at SJK Architects has kept a close eye on every facet of the design. Marasa Sarovar Premiere thus witnesses a conscious confluence of practicality that touches boundaries with repose and the tenets of Buddhism, becoming a sanctuary that surrounds a banyan tree, symbolic of the tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment.
Exploring the wilderness is child’s play for adventurers, and now it can be for everyone! Setting a benchmark for the new Indian safari experience, the village-styled lodge entrenched in Gujarati culture is designed with authenticity and luxury in equal measure. Aramness Luxury Safari Lodge is the only boutique lodge that borders the Sasan Gir National Park. Evolving as a brand that aims to protect the Asiatic lion population, it also delivers an exceptionally crafted luxury experience.
Jimmy Patel, the Founder, along with Nicholas Plewman Architects, Fox Browne Creative and Field Works Design Group, created Aramness, a 12-acre property that encapsulates the essence of Gujarat.
Hand in hand with nature
Aramness is Jimmy Patel’s dream project, “Over the years, my frequent expeditions to Sasan Gir with my family left an indelible mark on me and inspired me to develop something that would both celebrate and highlight the plight of conservation in my home state and further afield. I aim to do this through the delivery of an exceptional resident experience,” says the founder.
This thought birthed a new Indian safari experience—the village-style lodge, entrenched in local culture. Here, the last remaining Asiatic lions in the world co-exist with the semi-nomadic Maldhari tribe.
Where architecture supports the vision
Sustainability encompasses every aspect of Aramness — from the way it is built to the way it operates. In the building of the lodge, a clever choice of organic and natural materials is put to use. Sensitive to the ethos and culture of the region, hand-cut sandstone, sun-baked clay roof tiles and reclaimed wood were ethically sourced from the surrounding villages and Gujarat.
In and around Aramness
The driveway leads to the gates of the haveli, beyond which lies the heart of the Aramness experience — a village street, modelled with the similarities seen in nearby villages or nesses. To the left of the haveli, guests can enjoy a great deal of relaxation in the swimming pool, spa, gym, craft gallery and yoga and meditation pavilion.
The lodge’s design is inspired by the characteristic local village, Haripur, which has central cobbled streets fringed with courtyard homes (kothis). Immensely luxurious and comfortable yet unpretentious and elegantly simple, the 18 kothis at the property celebrate the best of Gujarati design, with a baraza seat and planter on its street façade. Each kothi is a spacious double-storeyed building with either one or two ground floor bedrooms, a sitting room, and a luxurious and spacious bathroom with a tub and an outdoor shower.
All the kothis have a cool shaded courtyard and a first floor verandah where guests can catch the breeze under the shade of clay tiled roof that overlooks the waterways and beyond to the dense teak forest. A small swimming pool, inspired by the characteristic Indian stepwells is constructed for each kothi.
The guests come together in and around the haveli (traditionally a manor house or mansion with historical significance, that has a large central courtyard authentic to Gujarat homes) whose spacious and cool courtyard is fringed by the dining and sitting room that looks out over the beautifully landscaped, terraced gardens and a library. The key feature in this library is an original wooden lattice screen façade of the building that creates a beautiful vantage over the gardens. The library can also be booked for private dinners. There is an infinity pool, for all guests alike, which serves all-day dining accompanied by a fresh juice station, coffee bar and gola cart!
Going beyond relaxation and tranquillity, Aramness proudly hosts the guests in their spa, steam rooms, massage rooms and nail bar—the perfect respite for wellness and enjoyment. To match the need of gym regulars and yoga practitioners, the infrastructure is built accordingly to cater to them with a gym and a yoga pavilion.
Located on our grounds within the original farmland of the property is a vegetable garden terrace and a garden breakfast pergola surrounding the greenhouse.
Your Diwali delicacies have to match your personality! If you are a ‘go big or go home’ person full of life, here are mithais that appreciate the enthusiast in you, and you, who appreciates the enthusiasm in mithai—a perfect love story. This diwali season, we are listing down some of the many boutique brands that will spruce up your mithai game the moment you introduce them to your loved ones.
Start your Diwali with a Genda Phool, literally! The brand derives its name from the auspicious flower: marigold, and wishes to bring to you the fortune and spirit of Diwali, packed in dainty boxes. Get your box of vibrant flavoured mithais now!
Bombay Sweet Shop
Befitting the multi-cultural references of Mumbai, Bombay Sweet Shop launches its new collection that appeases all palates. Be it a fruit or a decadent chocolate indulgence or a little ghewar tart, or the crowd-pleaser barfi this is your one go-to stop. Mumbai folks can order via Zomato, while the rest of India can head here.
Who knew a coffee brand would find a place in your mithai and namkeen thali. Araku, in full fledged, sends us sky-rocketing to a sweet Amaranth grain ladoo, that you can very well pair with any beverage or just the good old cuppa joe.
Coppetto Artisanal Gelato
While we all hail the traditional mithais, we also give our nod to the modern mithai-ice cream. Coppetto Artisanal Gelato got it covered and gave it a festive twist. Get your scoop of their twist here.
Baklava is back! Embrace those Baklava curves packed and delivered to you by PieceO’Cake Baklava. Sumptuous nut-filled delicacy re-invented with petals and love, all set to give your Diwali an exotic feel. Send them a DM on their Insta handle to order.
In today’s episode of pamper with a hamper, we have Sassy Teaspoon’s newly launched Diwali hampers, fitted with jars and boxes of pure happiness, in both sweet and salty shades.
Truffle and Co.
Amid all your golden lamps and silver serving plates, Truffle and Co.’s Diwali sweets will find their way in and sit in the centre, of attention. Glowing as much as your house is, and gleaming with flavour, Truffle and Co. sends in their regards packed in heartwarming sweets.
A box of chocolate sweets for the kids, and one for the kid in you. Chockriti re-designs chocolate ladoos with flavoured coatings. Chocolate bars and ladoos available here.
Radiant with a dash of yellow in the packaging and dotted with kaaju kishmish on top of each pedha, the yellow has started its journey to reach your heart. Flavours, toppings, fillings, colours and shapes, you name it, they have it.
Witness Le15 turn their signature macaroons as a diwali delicacy. There’s more to it, with flavoured teas, chocolate-dipped traditional mithais and love-struck namkeen boxes, all packed with a Le15 seal stamp.
When you get to keep the mithai and Meethi’s Mughal caricature box as well, it indeed becomes a Diwali gift. Set in a grid are some beautiful barfis of assortments that makes sure everyone gets to go home with something or the other.
What do you do when it’s a family get together and people want to enjoy it to the fullest? You draw cards, however, draw them with Meethi Elaichi’s Diwali box. Invent new games, let them creative aunties unleash their genius.
A mithai that comes to you all decked up and you don’t want to decide on who is the prettiest. The dilemma is presented by Misree’s Diwali launch which we’d love to call ‘beauty with tastes’.
Nihira and Co.
Who let the colours out? Nihira and Co. did. With the aim to add these vibrant colours to your celebration, the brand wants your heart to swell with their lip-smacking sweets.
If you want a change of scenery, Sweet Rasoi will send home their mounds of sweets that look likemarble and taste like heaven. Dipped in colour splashes and golden accents, the variety might just never end.
Dibs on these dips this Diwali! Give your palette a break from all the sweets and savoury of this season. Cremeitalia deserves to be the deal-breaker.
Make your Diwali ‘guilt-free’ with Yogisattva’s plant based mithais that compromise on nothing at all. No stealth, only health.
‘Sweet’ too has flavours- there is the cute sweet, the hot sweet, you name it Moner has it. From your favourite pedha to your favourite macaroon, all of them are dotted with a beautiful topping.
What is my favourite thing to do? What do I wish I could do in excess and not face the repercussions? What is the best part about exploring new cities? So many questions, a straightforward answer – good food!
Sometimes, a craving for scrumptious delicacies is not enough. We say that because, with an elevated ambience, the food becomes more than just a meal. It becomes an experience. ELLE DECOR India’s curated list of restaurants brings forth a range of flavours that marinate well with their unique interiors.
Diona at The Grand Anukampa Hotel, Jaipur
Diona by Chromed Design Studio is an amalgamation of volumes, niches, rounded curves, and monochromated themes. The stones and marble used, emulate the layout and dynamism of Santorini. The white-painted wall made of broken marble complements the labyrinth of arches and vaults creating a captivating contrast against the pink city scenery and making its eccentric design stand out.
As one exits the elevator, a gleaming crystal ceiling is covered by a massive green wall with an artful emblem that is now buzzing on Jaipur’s social media. However, Alfresco, the outdoor area has cabana seating, ivory gazebos, and natural ambient lighting which is a complete contrast to the crystals. Alternately, Diona hosts a dining space overlooking the infinity pool with an Instagrammable bar in the middle which gives a whole other luxe side to the space, alongside a private lounge that witnesses heightened views of the Jaipur sky.
The Olive Cafe & Bar, Chandigarh
Embarking on an all new journey of newer design aesthetics and a refreshing table of gourmet food by chef Jyotika Malik, The Olive Cafe & Bar unfurls its latest outpost in Chandigarh helmed by founder and MD AD Singh of The Olive Group of restaurants. White washed walls, tropical settings, sun-bathed courtyards and a breezy mood altogether, the new avatar of the restaurant in Chandigarh is one to gaze at.
As you trail through the space, coastal elements layered in gorgeous sober tones, arched windows, bamboo baskets, hand-finished terracotta tile covered patio and more such details reveal themselves – a design canvas directed by Sabina Singh and executed by architect Vivek Popli. “With two bars and one giant kitchen, Olive’s feast-friendly!” And that’s how the restaurant likes to sum itself up in a nutshell.
Bar Stock Exchange- Vashi, Mumbai
Bar Stock Exchange (BSE) crafted by Saniya Kantawala of her eponymous firm Saniya Kantawala Design encompasses a large outdoor seating area and an expansive indoor section. What makes the exteriors truly exquisite are the glazed openings with layers of coloured film, evoking traditional stained glass windows. The interior is almost as intriguing if not more than the exterior. It’s dressed in shades of red with a black and white bar counter in piccolo tiling spanning the room and forming the centrepiece. The bar counter too features a free-flowing painted pattern in nature-inspired shades.
The hues, patterns, and playful installations overall create a lively, youth-centric ambience that is a perfect reflection of what BSE brings to the table!
Mensho Tokyo, Greater Kailash, Delhi
The sense of interiors of this four-walled restaurant by Architect and Interior Designer Paushika Gupta, Founder of Paushika Gupta Architecture+Design is all about experiencing a modern take on a traditional Japanese-style ramen shop.
The interior design of the space aligns with the restaurant’s ever-evolving yet simple and traditional Japanese cuisine who’s primary focus is food, and the harmonious combination of traditional Japanese design elements with contemporary twists provides guests with a refreshing open-dining atmosphere wherein one can view the skills of the chef preparing food.
Dobaraa in Mumbai likes to call itself a design agnostic venue! A sense of dramatic liberty captures the space with an aim to create a vibe that would push you to take on the world. To represent this, the restor-bar has inscribed unabashedly on their wall, ‘Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee’. Their interiors are a blend of both worlds, elegant in some corners, and grunge in others, still being easy and fluid to the eye!
Their cocktails aim to please as they offer ‘Not just mixed beverages but moods’ which sounds perfect for a heavy work day or a chill day with your gal-pals. They carter to calm, frolic, frivolous, walking-on-the-ceiling! They invent, reinvent and observe new ones every now and then at every table or corner making this place ideal for any time and any day.
Ombré (BarBar), Varanasi
The ancient city of Varanasi exudes a laid back, cosmopolitan but free-spirited mood. Located here is a cosmo-resto bar, Ombré, a rooftop bar along Mint Road at Subroto Chowk designed by Urban Mistrii Studio’s Ritika Rakhiani. It is one to please as it embodies the tranquil and powerful identity of the city while giving it a strong, modern interpretation.
The ombre colour palette goes from soft powder blue to a strong navy blue–signifying the river Ganges–its calm yet powerful charisma. Complementing the scheme, are the fluidic light fixtures transcending into the river like holy lamps. The light frame arches anchor the space–an expression of the built character of the city.
Overall, minimal additions to the walls, such as a wire-framed sculpture and wall quotes along with the ombre shadings break the monotony of the place. The gold bar furniture plays an essential role in harmonising the visual experience along with the overall vibe of the venue.
YOUnion, Kamala Mills, Mumbai
‘Young’ and ‘Wild’ are two words that accurately outline the mood that captures YOUnion. Keeping the jungle theme in mind, restaurateur Zorawar Kalra aimed at creating an ambience that translates for and pays homage to the millennials. The all-day gastro-bar encompasses a carnival-like vibe created in line with dramatic interior elements like neon green lights behind the bar, green veils that dive into the idea of wilderness, and gold furniture that transpires a sense of easy-luxe.
Beyond decor, YOUnion has the country’s largest menu dedicated entirely to 300 types of shots including a ‘Make Your Own Shot’ option. They also have fifty different types of Long Island Iced Teas, which is truly a dream for anyone who enjoys a glass (or more) of drinks.
Butter Bar & Kitchen, Pune
If that glaze-y, smooth texture of butter could be translated into a restaurant, it’d be Pune’s new hotspot Butter Bar & Kitchen, a project by Meraki Hospitality and partners Hrishikesh R. Shinde, Sangram Shirole and Suryabhan R. Shinde. Designed by Minnie Bhatt, the 8,000 sq ft restaurant brings to the table a modern European-Asian fare amidst what feels like a rustic hideaway wrapped in elegance.
Minnie muses, “The word Butter speaks of a feeling of fluid ease, warmth and joy. The interiors have been conceptualised to bring to life this feeling—one that has an easygoing casual vibe.” The menu is devised by chef Shailendra Kekade, while the drinks curation comes from the mixologists Nitin Tewai and Suyash Pande
TKYO is imagined by Chromed Design Studio’s Abhigyan Neogi and Ankita Mehra, and this is the place to be at, when in Goa! It is nested in the heart of Anjuna inside a century-old Portuguese house, which is miraculously preserved as it yet retains the verandahs and patio seatings from that day and age. It is a whopping 11,500 sq ft property that can house more than 200 guests and offers both indoor and al fresco dining options, inspired by Japanese architecture and house elements like a conventional Tori entrance, an impressive pagoda-style illuminated island bar, a prominent sake barrel wall and several wall murals painted by local artists, authentically emitting the venue’s essence.
TKYO is the crossroad of Japanese & Portuguese architecture with seamlessly integrated Goan design elements that makes the place feel refreshing and equally refined!
Silly, says a grand off-white door in one of the lanes of Khar in Mumbai, inviting one to its gorgeous 4,700 sq ft venue filled with whiffs of contemporary-vintage interiors, scrumptious food and a rather refreshing escape from the industrial moodboard of the city life.
The all day cafe and bar crafted by interior designer Keith Menon of Spiro Spero also hosts a 65-year old mango tree and a striking white-grey gravel pathway that nestles an outdoor garden seating. While the bar incessantly stirs up some of the coolest drinks and cocktails, a swing set inside the venue poses as a sweet spot to lounge at, with the mezzanine floor housing two long co-working tables for guests to relax at!
Fig at Malcha‘s new home is a rejuvenated 60-year-old building in the middle of Lutyens Delhi. A confluence of Japanese design and the Nordic way of life, it revitalises the area in Malcha Marg’s market with modern architecture without losing any of the age-old elegance of the components around it. The concept of Fig at Malcha is well-thought-out and made for the purpose of artistic expression. Fig at Malcha’s genuine identity is rooted in basic, meticulously picked, and handcrafted materials, and these attributes are reflected in the restaurant’s classic white decor, seamless concrete flooring, and terrazzo counters.
“Our team’s dedication to providing a genuine mindful dining experience is reflected in the place we’ve created thanks to our uncompromising approach and flair for exceptional craftsmanship,” shares Manish Yadav, the founder of Fig at Malcha.
The first spell of the festive season has arrived and with Rakshabandhan knocking on our doors, it’ll be a sin to not keep our tables decorated and stocked with the best artisanal mithais and desserts in India.
Celebrating festivals in India probably means different things to different people. Some like to go all out with their plates full of a variety of sweet edibles, some love to experiment with all that’s new, while some of us only wait to gorge on that one favourite mithai (or dessert), artisanal but desi at core.
Lucky for you, ELLE DECOR India is prepped for the season to help you savour the best artisanal mithais and desserts in India. Check out our curated edit of the glacé sweets, you’ll probably want to overdose on (at your own caution!) below…
Colours, flavours and uniqueness burst with much delight at the newly launched contemporary Indian mithai brand Genda Phool. Founded by Shweta Agarwal, every creation is a proud fusion of the country’s traditional mithai-making techniques with an ecstatic hint of reimagined flavours.
Find out more here
MONER, Jardin Du Rose
From the house of Monèr, one of the first dedicated dessert bars and bistros in India by chef Freny Fernandes comes a dessert that is equally exceptional to look at and taste—presenting Jardin Du Rose.
Find out more here
BARFILA, Matcha tea green fudge (barfi)
Bright and bold, the green tea fudge by Barfila is probably the best of both worlds, with generous tinge of matcha flavour and concept of barfi moulded into one artisanal mithai.
If you can’t be in Kolkata, let the city of delectable sweets come to you. Bombay Sweet Shop brings its luscious take on handmade Nolen gur-coconut kheer kadam, rolled into adorable balls of malai ped, stuffed with palm jaggery-infused rasgulla and touched up with desiccated coconut!
With a palatable portfolio of Indian artisanal mithais, macarons and brownies, too, Saugaat by Bikanerwala is a sweet destination to bookmark. However, our eyes are fixated on the lemon de leche, a rich blend of smooth milk solids and that electrifying tang of lemon.
When your favourite things are splashed with delightful colours, the joy of savouring it doubles up. Khoya introduces pink coconut ladoo, made of coconut, filled with dry fruits and then rolled on a carpet of coconut again!
A staple during festive season, gunjiyas are a favourite at every home, and Gur Chini wants you to add some twist to it with their special wild rose and honey gunjiya. Deep red hued and stuffed with taste-tickling mixture, these sweets are sculpted into gorgeous compact shapes that you’d have a hard time deciding whether to gorge on it or not!
That’s the thing about comfort food – pitch any cuisine, any culinary technique, any esoteric recipe against it, and the first thing the spoon finds its way to and digs into is comfort food. At least, that’s the case for me, especially after savouring the menu at the newest outpost of The Nutcracker in Mumbai, at the current hotspot that is the Jio World Drive in BKC!
Nutcracker was first imagined back in 2016 by Annie Bafna, the creative who first dipped her feet in the world of finance for over 15 years before wearing the restaurateur hat.
The first outlet in Kala Ghoda was followed with launches in Bandra and Lower Parel, each space doused in a certain art deco, opulent feel. That’s where the new Nutcracker in BKC hits the refresh button with its natural, organic design grammar draping a 2,000 sq ft area. Like all the other outposts, this novel space is also designed and assembled to perfection by interior designerTejal Mathur.
Stringing together a spectacular concoction of earthy and elegant, Tejal muses, “One thing we both wanted in the high volume space were swings along the windows. At that point I imagined a softly high cave with solid grained furniture and oversized jute lamps.”
Warm, minimal interiors meeting an even warmer and soothing selection of recipes make up the experience at Nutcracker. Annie says, “I wanted the space to be minimalist, clean and modern while maintaining a sense of comfort and warmth that the brand and our food resonates with.”
Inside the new outpost…
Promenading towards the restaurant, soft arches and straight lines converge on a cold, polished canvas, conveying the designer’s mood board of making the facade look like an inviting, dimly lit cave.
As you step indoors, the door closing behind, the cosy rhythm of minimal, raw design whelms you. Every element here croons the colour story of sand, gravel and graphite, coalesced with seamless curves and large jute lamps.
The restaurant hosts three different sections. The Dune and Fluid are two spaces that Tejal enjoyed imagining the most. She informs about one monolithic curved wall that they draped with rough edged tiles and carved semi circular pods as its extension, contouring raised micro-cement platforms. Hence, the name Dune. This design thought transpires into a cocooned spot overlooking the rest of the community-seating area and the bar across!
As Annie divulges, this emerges as a potential section at The Nutcraker BKC to host open-mic, book reading and other such entertainment sessions.
Continuing the language of curves is the Flow Bar that stands right opposite Dune, stacked and queued with wines and other tipples.
Lean, arched windows on the other side of the restaurant draw attention, in company of playful swing seaters crafted with rope suspensions and black grained sandblasted tables. In Tejal’s words, this is a back to basic glam version of living in raw nature — and, we see no point in disagreeing here.
With the other end of the seating area dubbed The Perch, the restaurant is also thoughtfully decked with decor objects that seamlessly become a part of Annie and Tejal’s minimal, organic narrative.
A crinkled, pure white artwork dresses up one of the walls, while shelves bear the aesthetic weights of amorphous, mottled pottery, flanked with a surprising addition of a floor-to-ceiling raw bark and sprinkles of dry fronds and matted leaves that elevate the natural mood of the space.
Menu for the eyes and soul!
The menu at the new outlet of The Nutcracker in BKC brings a rather elaborate, soul-satiating spread of the classic all-day breakfast specials, luscious salads, warm plates of handmade pasta and ravioli alongside small plates and mains!
A special shoutout to the beautifully cooked Dhansaak that the menu reads as ‘a bowl of comfort the Parsi way!’ and in fact the recipe and inspiration of which comes from Annie’s very own household.
Annie also emphasises on maintaining the menu as a seasonal one, bringing a wide selection of flavours to the patrons in the most comforting style. The binging here bundles up to a perfect end (only for us to come back here yet again!) with an assortment of desserts such as the gooey chocolate cake, drunken tiramisu, baked almond cake, tarts and the delectable mango cheesecake that melts and just melts away as soon as it touches the tip of the tongue.
For the first time at Nutcracker, what stands as a pitstop here is the display counter, stocking up a cool assortment of its in-house spreads, dips, sauces, breads and crackers for the guests to buy!
Scroll through to savour the delicious plates served at The Nutcracker, BKC…
Rooted in quietude, wilderness and design laced with thoughts of outdoor adventures, Utsav Camp in Alwar, Rajasthan is a vision to behold and a place to experience away from the bustle and noises of a city life.
Hidden in the cascading flora and fauna of Sariska, the sanctuary is a mesmerising brainchild of a trained naturalist Luv Shekhawat.
Conceptualised and designed by Akshaya Mestry, Principal Architect at Studio Mestry Utsav Camp sprawling over 375000 sq ft (3.5 hectares) poses as a rite of passage that leads to inner peace and stimulates organic connections with one’s surroundings harnessing the healing power of nature and rejuvenating the soul.
Let’t rewind to a little backstory before this retreat took shape. In a situation disturbed by the pandemic, one of the most tricky challenges a designer could face is dealing with and executing design details virtually. This hiccup however, resulted in interesting endeavours for Akshaya and Luv, both, while crafting the space to completion. The coordination that followed for the designing of the retreat happened over video calls and email for over three months.
When Akshaya was first entrusted to transform the interiors of the then raw rubble shell, she was drawn to the reviving ambience of the adjoining forest. The lush surroundings compelled her to recreate a harmonising palette of indoor-meets-outdoors.
She divulges, “Being one of the oldest natural habitats in the world, Sariska’s trove of vegetation and fauna posed as the muse of the design narrative, etching an indelible impression upon the medley of spaces at Utsav Camp.”
To unlock the site’s maximum potential, Studio Mestry remodelled a few spaces including the forest lounge and stone cabins, adding in their own sensibilities. Use of indigenous materials like warm-toned wood, cool hand plaster lime walls complemented by beige, grey and olive green accents mould a rooted, homely colour palette.
Antique-style acacia and rosewood furniture, strategically placed custom artwork and artefacts exude an old-world charm, a subtle nod to the royal heritage of the State. A series of built in-house suspended lights crafted out of jute, metal and terracotta illuminate the jungle retreat.
Customised wallpapers narrating the stories of Sariska are the heart of every space. With their surreal wildlife illustrations, the wall coverings act as a catalyst calling out to the landscape beyond.
The reception area of Utsav Camp unfolds into a wide open courtyard also known as the outdoor library cafe as it is flanked by a private library. The library adjoins an enormous conventional restaurant. The upper levels of the restaurant include an in-house bar and forest lounge.
Elaborating on why the library and the forest lounge are their personal favourite spots, Akshaya reveals, “Our main focus was for people to enjoy a raw yet warm atmosphere within these spaces. Utsav Camp immerses the guests in a tactile milieu that revels in an untainted and rustic demeanour.”
The restaurant verandah further morphs into an external courtyard bordered by mammoth rubble buttresses. The centrally located outdoor garden restaurant with a rectangular pool enjoys captivating views of the skies.
Two meandering pathways hint a sequential directionality as they usher one into the spatially dispersed stone cabins and tents. The pathways connect both the public and the private sections of the site, disintegrating only to provide pause points for self reflection.
MS framework and bamboo rafter roofs fabricate a semi-covered sit-out space in the forest lounge. The stone cabins house similar extensions to enable additional privacy for the guests.
The ingenious design of the monolithic bed built under the bamboo roof incorporates a projected back that doubles up as a study desk. The stone bed is a sun-kissed, breezy escape in the day and a silent spectator of the star-filled sky at night.
Where every section of this place bursts with mindful design elements, Studio Mestry augmented this by installing bamboo screens in the southern facing walls to avoid overheating during summers. The screens filter in sunlight during winters. Embracing a sustainable approach, the studio utilises on-site wood, bamboo, natural stones, and local labour to establish a rooted and earthy essence in the project.
“Utsav Camp is a celebration of nature and tracing one’s roots,” concludes Akshaya. Far away from the monotonous and overwhelming clutches of urbanisation, the retreat stands proud as a delightful reminder of the inherent joy of outdoor-focussed, sustainable living.