The trick to family travel in Delhi is escaping the crowds. Try crossing Connaught Place, amid careering traffic, in the heat, whilst gripping the arms of several toddlers, and you might find yourself racing back to the cloistered sanctuary of your hotel room. Relax in the calm confines of a Mughal garden however, and you might see the city in a very different light.
A good hotel is worth its weight in Mr Men books
Getting the best out of Delhi with kids in tow requires a certain amount of forward planning. Rather than staying in the busiest districts, life will be infinitely less stressful if you choose one of the quieter corners of South Delhi, where guesthouses and hotels offer a bit more room to breathe. Some even have enclosed gardens. As an added bonus, most of these hotels are also close to Delhi’s surburban district ‘markets’ – upscale retail complexes with shops, restaurants and supermarkets selling familiar European and American imports (breakfast cereals, wet-wipes and the like), plus, in many cases, decent kids’ playgrounds. Perhaps the most ideal base for families is the Lutyens Guesthouse, with parrot-filled grounds, sprawling lawns and a swimming pool.
However, if you prefer to stay in the centre, this has the advantage that you’re only a short, entertaining rickshaw hop from many of the sights and places to eat. Palace Heights on Connaught Place is a boutique hotel with a good restaurant and a cosy feel, while at the cheaper end of the scale, Bloom Rooms on Arakashan Road, close to New Delhi train station, is centred around a large sofa filled courtyard, with light, bright rooms, and an on-site pizza restaurant. If you fancy a real escape from the city, Tikli Bottom is ideal, wonderfully set amidst the Aravali hills, with plenty of space, farm animals and a swimming pool.
Family feasts in Delhi
When travelling, the default position for many parents is to stick to the familiar, and Delhi has no shortage of fastfood chains and restaurants serving the comforting tastes of home. However, Delhi is also a great place to branch out and delve into the local cuisine. Kids with moderately adventurous palates will find South Indian culinary heaven at Saravana Bhavan, with branches on P-Block in Connaught Place, and at 46 Janpath. As well as healthy veg staples like rice and dhal, another easy dish for children is the dosa, a huge, crisp rice pancake, which can be eaten plain, or more ambitiously with a spicy potato and onion filling and tangy sambar dipping sauce and coconut chutney. Other great south Indian restaurants include Swagath and Sagar Ratna, with branches all over the city.