Shropshire Star

Travel review: East meets west to form the best at LaLit

This is the first time I have been greeted by an elephant at the door of a hotel but Lord Ganesha, the Hindu god of prosperity, is celebrated at a unique London hotel.

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Gallery at Baluchi

The garlanded elephant statue was at the approach to five-star boutique hotel The LaLiT London, an Anglo-Indian fusion of traditional British style and Asian opulence which has seen a former Victorian grammar school enhanced with touches of grandeur that would please a maharaja.

Located just a few yards from Tower Bridge with The Shard soaring above and foodie hotspot Borough Market nearby, the hotel has a palatial presence on the Southwark south bank of the Thames.

The grade II listed neo-baroque red brick building on Tooley Street was built in 1894, the same year as Tower Bridge, and was home to the boys’ only St Olave’s Grammar School until 1968 (alumni include Lawrence Durrell), after which it became Lambeth College.

Baluchi Dal
King Prawns dish
LaLiT tadka dal
LaLiT London is a former grammar school
Gallery at Baluchi

The building was chosen by Indian luxury hotel chain LaLiT for it first European hotel, spending £15 million on an 11-year revamp which was completed for the hotel to open in 2017.

Indeed, the 70-bedroom hotel’s reception includes a memorial to Indian hotel magnate Lalit Suri, the founder of the LaLiT brand, whose family expanded their empire to the British capital to fulfil his dream after his death in 2006.

The redesign has preserved many of the finest Victorian features, lots of wooden panelling, a gloriously decorative ceiling and grand fireplace in the Headmaster’s Room , whilst the panelled Teacher’s Room has been converted into a stylish cocktail bar. Let me recommend the hotel’s signature cocktail, a blend of Ketel One Vodka, peach schnapps and peach tea.

The high-vaulted Great Hall with gallery has been converted into upmarket pan-Asian restaurant Baluchi. The restaurant has won plaudits for its imaginative menu, including awards from Conde Nast and in the British Curry Awards. Executive chef Santosh Shah has created a menu light years ahead of a typical curry house by paying homage to cuisines from Goa, Kerala, Kashmir and Bengal.Given the Indian heritage of the food, there are many tasty vegetarian dishes alongside meat and fish choices.

Highlights included Tandoori Octopus with Colocasia Leaf Terrine, Lamb Shank Gushtaba, ginger chicken dish Murg Adraki and the creamy black lentil dish Dal Baluchi. These were served with a selection of delicious paratha and naan, and matched with a fine French white wine. It is essential to leave room for desserts such as the Bhapa Doi honey steamed yoghurt dish and sensational Pistachio Cake.

When eating in Baluchi you eyes are certain to be drawn upwards to four massive sapphire-blue glass chandeliers, each shipped to the UK after being handcrafted on the sub-continent, costing a princely total of £44,000.

Octopus dish

The restaurant also features a naanery (bread bar) with a tandoor to provide an authentic taste of India. In fine weather there is a terrace where one can enjoy High Chai, the LaLiT equivalent to afternoon tea with snacks given an Indian twist.

The culinary adventure continues at breakfast where you can choose between a continental or full English, or the full Indian breakfast including a spicy Masala Omelette, Medu Wada deep fried lentil dumpling, Uthappam pancake, Upma savoury cake and Sambar lentil stew.

There is a spa – Rejuve – which offers both western and eastern therapies and specialises in Ayuvedic techniques. The gym is available 24/7.

Former classrooms have been converted into bedrooms, with both suites and cosy options. Colours are muted and Indian embroidery adorns the walls. Above the headboard of the comfortable double bed was a striking embroidered peacock motif. There was a table with two chairs, sofa, large TV and all the various plugs required for recharging modern gadgets. The room included all that one would expect, including kettle with teas, coffee machine, safe, and fridge with mini bar.

The luxurious tiled bathroom had under floor heating , a walk-in shower, large marble washbasin and hi-tech toilet with heated seat. Fluffy robes and slippers were at the ready.

The staff often make the experience at an hotel and the united nations of staff at the LaLiT were unfailingly welcoming, polite and helpful.

LaLit also prides itself on being an inclusive hotel welcoming to the LGBTQ+ community with Keshav Suri, executive director of the Lalit Sur Hospital Group, a leading campaigner for LGBT rights in his home country.

Headmaster's Room

Rates start from £195.

The LaLiT London

181 Tooley Street SE1 2JR

Tel: 0203765000



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