Review: The all-new Sheraton Hyderabad will impress you in more ways than one
Old world cliches slow to a mellow trill at the gates of this restless version of a city otherwise romanticised in dusty history and rationed stereotypes. The new Hyderabad piles up lofty, all shiny, in vertical flexes of chrome and glass in Gachibowli, its financial district. Beyond the delicacy of,Old world cliches slow to a mellow trill at the gates of this restless version of a city otherwise romanticised in dusty history and rationed stereotypes. The new Hyderabad piles up lofty, all shiny, in vertical flexes of chrome and glass in Gachibowli, its financial district. Beyond the delicacy of translucent pearls, a cuisine that essays history on a plate, and the ethereal lure of a Nizami way of life, hospitality still breathes in the past but exhales a contemporary vibe that threatens the decree of staid truisms. So why does another episodic opening of an international hotel chain make for a compelling story?Picture courtesy: India Today SpiceWith bigger, brighter, flashier becoming the beacons of modern hospitality, the Sheraton Hyderabad, located in the heart of Gachibowli, looks like any other hotel in any city of the world at first blush. It’s only in the nuanced charm of seamless service, personalised experiences carefully curated to individual whims and novel conveniences tailored into the products they offer, that the hotel really attempts to shake things up.EFFORTLESS TRAVELAs packaging goes, the hospitality sector is little different from a spectator sport; it’s all about the shock and awe component. The Sheraton, though drawing on this philosophy, weighs in with more subtle inferences, reflected tastefully. The lobby, for instance, isn’t sprawling but neatly designated into cosy nooks that serve well for both business and personal settings.Picture courtesy: India Today SpiceOne such area, designated Link ([email protected] Sheraton) is the heart of the fractured lobby where the hotel provides free wifi as well as terminals to surf at will while you wait for a friend or simply prefer to while away time. The most interesting part about the lobby experience is the bar snacks, particularly their imaginative paired menus, where artisanal small plates are served with suggested premium wines and local craft beers. Sample the sweet, spicy novelty of a litchi kebab served with the chilled crisp Chandon Brut or the lipsmacking garlicky shrimp accessorised with an Australian Shiraz or a Corona beer. Despite the indulgent versatility of meat choices, the vegetarians have much to relish; a remarkable departure from most menus where vegetarians are at best second-class citizens.The sauteed mushrooms and the cheese stuffed jalapenos were second to none. The pairings are delightfully unexpected and stretch the boundaries of the tried and tested, but if you prefer to chart your own course, that option is open too. The hotel clubs all of these initiatives as part of the new plan for Sheraton 2020, which the hotel conceptually introduces as “Effortless Travel”. The idea is to offer guests smart solutions that free up valuable time so guests can experience more.advertisementTo this end, another unique perspective that the hotel offers is the One Hour Gem, where the Sheraton curates a short capsule of hand-picked experiences that may not sum up the complexity of a city like Hyderabad, but makes a valiant attempt. So, there is an energetic, but short, history session that takes you through the annotations of legend, mythology and history around these parts; a gentle walk-through of traditional handicrafts with behind-the scenes interaction with artisans as they work and of course, the crowd favourite: food.This introduction to Hyderabadi street food as never imagined or tasted, cooked fresh in front of you, is memorable to say the least. Spoilt for choice, in this competitive food scene, anything deemed memorable is code for outstanding. As unexpected pleasures go, this one would definitely rank with winning a lottery.Picture courtesy: India Today SpiceFAMILY DAYAnother first for Feast, the all-day dining restaurant, is the market brunch. On Sunday mornings, the hotel lobby transforms into a farmer’s market with a range of breads (from the hotel bakery), an assortment of imported cheeses, sauces, marinades, chutneys, exotic fruits and vegetables from vendors, whetted by, and used by the hotel for their own consumption.The hotel also puts up a bouncy for children with clowns and Disney characters to entertain them while parents frolic among the greens for weekly supplies or partake of the generous brunch at Feast, aptly named for its generosity of spread and indulgence of selection. It is this Sheraton 2020 vision, “Where Actions Speak Louder” campaign that the hotel hopes to distinguish itself from the endemic of fast opening, high rising, cookie cutter hotels that are today the norm.Picture courtesy: India Today SpiceSHEER INDULGENCEFortunately, that’s not all of Sheraton’s charm; their Pan-Asian restaurant InAzia is the most recently launched specialty restaurant. The rich composition of delectable creations from their expat chef called Ninja, cobbles together the most colourful from the Far East. Her signature dishes, especially the Thai curry, uses a homemade spice mix recreated from ingredients sourced from Thailand that resembles a rosary on the tongue. The steamed crystal shrimp dumpling and fried rice with turmeric and pineapple are pretty remarkable as well.advertisementThe softly-lit, snug InAzia neighbours the boisterous Chime, the swinging nightclub that offers a lovely rooftop view of the city. A live band fires up the space while skilled bar artist Ami Shroff, shows off her dynamic moves and exceptional mixology skills with aplomb. The friendly F&B staff are happy to experiment with exotic cocktails like vodka with celery or gin and curry leaves or the fiery bell pepper martini served in hollowed bell pepper shells.Groove, grin and beer it; that’s just the way it plays out. As the hotel attempts to shake up the scene with some new moves, the lights of old Hyderabad dim in the distance; the music chimes louder and the flow of spirit douses the evening. Out with the old and in with the new.