A Luxury Holiday in Chennai

When the British first came to India, Chennai was their initial settlement. So, from 1640 onwards, the city became a site for some of the finest examples of colonial architecture in the world. Must-see tourist attractions include the High Court, Fort St George, the Kapaleeshwar Temple and the Artists’ Village of Cholamandal. These days, Chennai is India’s fourth biggest city and a meeting place for the old and the new. Centuries-old buildings provide the backdrop for bustling crowds, frenetic traffic and brand new developments. It’s definitely a fascinating time to visit. Here’s your guide to a luxury holiday in one of India’s most exciting cities.

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Where to stay

If you’re looking for a great 5 star hotel in Chennai, the Radisson Blu is hard to go past. With nightly rates starting from 66 Euros (about US$90), it provides luxury at much more affordable rates than what you’re probably used to paying at home. The location is convenient, being both near the Airport and within a stone’s throw of the city’s major attractions, shopping centres and restaurants.

For relaxation purposes (when you’re not out and about, visiting amazing museums and sampling the finest local cuisine), there’s a great fitness studio, fitted with the latest equipment; an amazing spa; and options for on-site drinking and dining at The Great Kabab Factory, Baker’s Corner and Gallop cocktail bar. The guest rooms vary from the classic Radisson Club Rooms to Parlour Suites to Luxury Suites. All come with super-fast Internet, a television and DVD player, a mini-bar and room service.

Where to go

If you make it to just one tourist attraction during your stay in Chennai, it should be Fort St George. Built in 1644, it was the first English fortress to be built in India, and it’s also home to the nation’s oldest Anglican Church, St Mary’s. There’s a museum housing an array of colonial relics, from weapons to coins to uniforms and even a few hand-written letters penned by Clive and Cornwallis.

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After that, make your way to the High Court, which was built in 1892. J.W. Brassington prepared the design, in conjunction with the famous Henry Irwin. It’s a gorgeous example of Indo-Saracenic Revival architecture, a late 19th century movement started by British architects working in India. Elements of Indian, Islamic, Gothic Revival and Neo-Classical styles combine.

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Other major sights that shouldn’t be missed include the 1400 year old Kapaleeshwar Temple, dedicated to Shiva, and the Cholamandal Artists’ Village, which is India’s largest art commune and was responsible for the Madras Art Movement, which led to the introduction of modern art to South India.

Where to drink

For cocktails, a visit to one of Chennai’s many stunning rooftop terraces is a must. One of the best is High, located at 636, Anna Salai, Teynampet – on the rooftop of the tallest buildings in the city. The bird’s eye view of the skyline is absolutely stunning, especially at sunset when brilliant reds, pinks and oranges flood the horizon. The experienced, award-winning mixologists conjure up high-quality versions of the classic cocktail menu, as well as several innovative unique creations.

A second excellent option for a cocktail with a view is the Q Bar, located at 124/1, J.N. Salai, Guindy. Like High, it offers awe-inspiring panoramas of the city and is also home to a swimming pool. So you can interweave your martinis and mojitos with a cool dip.

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What’s more, any visit to Chennai wouldn’t really be complete without a cocktail and/or meal on the Coromandel Coast. For a wide variety of bars, cafes and restaurants, head to Marina Beach or Elliot Beach. There’s nothing quite like wining and dining while staring out at expansive ocean views.

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