The refurbished Taj Coromandel's lobby blends the international contemporary and the Indian traditional

We're sentimental about the Taj Coromandel. After all, at almost 40 years, it's one of the city's oldest luxury hotels. The venue for umpteen birthday celebrations and anniversaries, first dates and wedding proposals. So, it's significant that the hotel's just thrown open its refurbished lobby, representing its new approach to aesthetics and luxury.

The hotel's been in the process of reinventing itself for about two years now. It started with the restaurants — the old Matchpoint made way for Anise, and Fort St. George was turned into Chipstead. Golden Dragon then emerged in a hip new avatar, after which work has begun on that old stalwart Southern Spice.

The lobby, all gleaming marble and discreet golden lighting, follows the design philosophy of the updated dining outlets. Since the aim is contemporary global top-end luxury, products have been sourced from all over the world. Glittering chandeliers from Preciosa of the Czech Republic, reportedly designing for royal palaces across Europe since 1724. Marble from Italy, of course. And, if you must be nosey about the china, let's just say you don't want to drop any of it if you'd like to keep both your kidneys.

Over cups of elegant Earl Grey at the lobby's tea lounge, filled with the sound of an appropriately tinkly waterfall, the hotel's general manager N. Prakash discussed how they're focussing on reinventing the hotel, while retaining its soul. “Everyone wants change — we're entering a new generation, a new market. We want the Taj Coromandel to appeal to new customers, and also the people who have grown up with this hotel.”

The new lobby's easier to navigate, since it prominently displays the restaurants and other facilities. It is, however, rather ‘safe' design-wise, lacking a distinctive character. A sort of blandly international look, brightened with conventional Indian accents, such as a bronze Nataraj and bright paintings. We do, however, like the striking temple motif doubling up as a discreet indoor waterfall en route to the lower lobby. Don't overshoot the new entry gate. The access has been changed to give guests “a whole new approach to the hotel,” says Prakash, adding: “You'll possibly be seeing facets you've not noticed before. Such as our murals, which have been there for 30 – 40 years.” Meanwhile, the lower lobby is being converted into a posh set of business rooms equipped with startlingly-expensive crockery and cutlery for The Chambers, which are ‘by invitation only' private meeting and boardroom facilities.

Next up, Southern Spice and the ballroom will be unveiled next year.

Keywords: Taj Coromandel