The first thing that strikes you as you enter the room is the pillow menu. You can choose from over seven different types of pillows. The Classic pillow with goose down filling provides good support without raising the head too high while the Spelt pillow adds to the softness with its Spelt chaff filling.

Nestled in a 16 and a half acre plot surrounded by rocky quarries and IT companies, Ista is a 40-minute drive from the international airport in Hyderabad. Rocks that once occupied this space still remain unearthed but the place stays ‘cool’ thanks to the water bodies that aesthetically dot this five-star luxury-cum-design hotel. Ista is derived from the Sanskrit word Ishta or most desirable. Ista promises personal space and total comfort along with cutting edge technology and traditional values of service.

Explorations

After a quick nap I decided to explore. The 166 rooms are spread over three floors built on a split-level. The lobby was two floors above the entrance. Though only a balcony marked a difference between the luxury and deluxe rooms; it’s the additional perks that make you feel special. The suites are huge with a drawing room, a kitchenette, dining room, two walk-in wardrobes, two bathrooms, a jacuzzi and a bath tub.

The lobby with its minimalist design and exquisite use of Bidri and Kalamkari shows off Andhra Pradesh’s rich culture and also doubles up as an open bar that can host up to 50 guests. Continuing with my explorations, I eventually landed at the swimming pool. Temperature regulated and controlled, it also has a Jacuzzi and serves as a de-stressor. You can’t miss the spa where you will definitely get lost but in a good way. My first reflexology massage had me falling asleep, blissfully unaware of everything.

Lunch at Collage, their multi cuisine all-day restaurant was my next stop. I needed something interesting to keep me awake after the massage. I didn’t expect an international culinary tour; I needed a long walk just to see what was there. Salads and starters were many as were the juices. The main course comprised rice, rotis, pasta and fresh oven-baked thin crust pizzas, side dishes like dals, mixed vegetables, Mexican and a live Japanese counter. If you had room for dessert, there was yet another long walk to choose from cakes, pastries, gateaux, mousses, Indian sweets, and ice-cream. What I was happy about was that they also catered to the staunch vegetarians.

Elegant look

An evening walk around the vast property was exhilarating. Set in acres of natural landscape, Ista made sure the rock formations, water bodies and lush foliage added to its elegant tranquil look. The vast space has been utilised to cater to a 10.000 sq. foot spa and a 24-hour gym besides three conference halls. The use of natural lights also adds to the ‘bringing the outside into the inside’ feel. Back in the spa, I noticed six rooms; each with a different form of treatment: ayurvedic, oriental and general forms of wellness programmes. I was made to feel special with the athithi devo bhava tradition. This took 85 minutes and it worked wonders as the soft tissues were manipulated against the bone to increase circulation. I decided to call it a day but my stomach led me towards Deori, Collage’s Indian counterpart. The spread includes Nizami gharana and Andhra cuisine in a contemporary setting. The starters, main course and the desserts were rich, well flavoured, sumptuous and very Nawabi!

What makes Ista stand out is ecological responsibility. Ninety per cent of the water is recycled. Ista has its own effluent treatment plant and rain water harvesting facility. My stay at Ista was short but, as the cliché goes, certainly sweet.

Ista is in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Amristar. Opening soon at Coimbatore, Pune and Ahmedabad.Website: www.istahotels.com E-mail: reservations@istahotels.com