We're In Love With This Heritage Hotel In Karnal That's Only 3 Hours From Delhi
What Makes It Awesome
I'll straight-up admit I'd never heard of Karnal before I found out about Noor Mahal. When I discovered there was this beautiful property there, and it was super close to Delhi so I could LEGITIMATELY zip away for a weekend getaway that actually fit in the span of a weekend, I was intrigued. I looked it up online, and of course, the pictures were stunning—but then again, they always are. However, the pictures truly didn't prepare me for the grand, visual largeness of Noor Mahal. As you walk in, you feel like you're in a different time; a time when glorious carved wooden doors, minarets and imposing palatial architecture reigned supreme. Apart from being an Instagrammer's and magazine photographer's wet dream, it's also a beautiful space to just relax and be. I could spot about a hundred nooks for a relaxing chai and reading session on a less hot day. The rooms are amazing—with heritage architecture and every facility you'd expect at a world-class hotel. They don't disappoint. Some bathrooms have a confusing electronic commode that threw me for a loop, but was pretty cool when I eventually figured it out. Also, the beds are wildly comfortable. I overslept both mornings I was there. The hotel has three restaurants, and they've all got wildly different vibes and cuisines, so depending on how you're feeling you can hit up Polo Bar, Brown Sugar, or Frontier Mail. Polo Bar will give you a slightly dimly-lit, relaxed lounge-y feeling—and serve up some fabulous Pan Asian (the honey glazed chicken and Thai green curry were amazing). Brown Sugar is definitely the most relaxed of the three, milling with people and (ordinarily) a buffet with tons of options—Asian, Indian, salads, live dosa/pizza counters; you name it. But my favourite was Frontier Mail without a shadow of doubt. Not only was the food at this gorgeous, vintage, 70's-Bollywood-movie themed restaurant with a prop dining car of a train (that you can be seated and eat in) phenomenal, it also had a dreamy, nostalgic vibe. I fast became obsessed with the live two-man band singing retro Hindi music (which normally annoys me, but this guy's voice was UNREAL), their dal makhani, Paneer Zafrani, Afghani chicken, and moong dal halwa were my favourite things on the menu. Lastly, their spa and salon is really nice (though I will admit not very aesthetic). My friend got a massage that she couldn't stop raving about, and I, not being a spa type human, chose to check out the salon in its stead. I got a haircut that made me very nervous while it was happening ("Please PLEASE keep the length the same!"), but that I was quite happy with after. It should also be noted that the staff was really courteous and sweet, although they can sometimes even smother you with attention (but most people prefer it that, and they'll have a ball).
What Could Be Better
There were certain parts of the hotel that weren't as aesthetic as the others, which felt a bit confusing. Also, the staff—while extremely courteous and well-intentioned—have a habit of constantly interrupting you during your meal to check if you need anything, which I know comes from a good place, but can get a little tedious.