But good doesn’t make the cut when it’s the last night (or one of the last nights) of the year. Every experience has to be great, if not out-of-this-world.
We’re thinking the finest Beluga caviar with a bottle of G.H. Mumm champagne on top of the Burj Khalifa. We have five destinations – New Delhi, Mumbai, Goa, Dubai and Bangkok – five experts and unlimited cash. And for those who don’t breathe money every moment of their life, there is an equally exciting alternative plan. So if you want a night to remember, here’s where to start.
The over-the-top, big-spender party
Expert: Gaurav Bhatia, Champagne Boy
Ladies and gentlemen, I have to declare that Delhi has arrived on the world partying circuit and is even inching ahead of Mumbai. I have found New York in New Delhi. It is also the champagne capital of India as well as the gastronomic one. So, if you’re looking to party in Delhi, then get ready for some eye-popping bling and unmentionable decadence.
Before your night out, book a room (preferably the Maharaja suite) at The Leela Palace – the grand hotel in the heart of the city. Sit back and sip some green tea. Then suit up and leave the room when the sun goes down. Head straight to the Library Bar and call for some caviar and Dom Pérignon Vintage 2003. The Library Bar is a jewel of a place with an almost Renaissance-flavoured splendour. All you see around you is red – the colour of decadence. It will prepare you for the evening ahead – a gastronomic odyssey on the 10th floor.
The world of haute cuisine awaits at one of the best tables in India. In the league of its namesake in Manhattan, Le Cirque lives up to all its glory. Call for their tuna tartare, spiced mango and fennel dressing and juliennes of radish. Maybe some Dover sole, clams and mussels with light turmeric froth.
Now, it’s time to play. Zip across the buttery smooth roads of Delhi and head straight to Anidra at the Aman Hotel. Here’s a trick that all revellers must remember – when partying in style, always make a reservation in the VIP section. Otherwise you will have to wait outside and that’s not fun. The table will announce itself with magnums of Moët and Belvedere, with Mary J Blige shrieking above.
Later, go to B-Bar for a drink and soak in the ambience. Then, take the party to SHRoom. The music is always good. Try their edible cocktails and fluid dishes. After tiring yourself out completely, just go to Threesixty° for a nightcap and then retire to your suite for the last bit of TLC. The night cannot get better than this.
...And if you don’t want to break the bank
In a Delhi vs Mumbai fight on Twitter, the two words that you need to keep a troll away are: open spaces. Here, you can enjoy the unique outdoors that Delhi has to offer.
Do as Nitin Malik from the rock band Parikrama suggests: Meet on a friend’s lawn for a BYOB party (Bring Your Own Booze) and spend a few hours drinking around the bonfire.
Then make dinner reservations at the city’s best-kept secret. As recommended by sommelier Magandeep Singh, go to Gung The Palace in Green Park Market for the most amazing Korean food. Apart from drinking copious amounts of Korean wine, you could also choose one of the private, low-level seating areas. The hit: about Rs. 2,500 per head or thereabouts.
It’s only about 10pm now, and you’re done with dinner. But since it’s the best night out in Delhi, you can’t be done before you’ve visited the One Style Mile area.
If stylist Pernia Qureshi is to be believed, you could feel like a real Mughal as you sip martinis at the town’s latest bar, Dirty Martini, situated above Olive, for which you need to shell around R800-1,000 per drink. “They serve the best martinis I’ve had anywhere in India. And the view of the Qutab is breathtaking.”
Now it’s time to set the dance routine in place. “Head towards Vasant Vihar. Manage to get the secret password for Delhi’s first ‘speakeasy’ bar, PCO. The discreet location adds to the atmosphere, which is casual with the sound of jazz,” says Narresh Kukreja, one half of design-duo Shivan-Narresh.
Next, you should be off to Kitty-Su, the 24x7 nightclub at The Lalit. “The club’s USP of staying open all night long with great music and champagne makes it the best option for that hour,” says Kukreja.
Now, it’s about 6am, and there’s only one place to feed your soul. The nihari of Matia Mahal in Chandni Chowk, available only at this time. And after that, my friend, you’ll be happy to pass out.
- Yashica Dutt
The party-like-a-rock-star bash
Expert: Keenan Tham, owner of Trilogy
In Mumbai, we party like Mumbaikars – always on the move. We start partying in one part of the city, only to make our way through the back-breaking potholes and traffic jams to get to another one. The party never stops and the revellers never tire. But, if you want to party like a rock star, then all you need are deep pockets.
So, without going into the details of how you’re going to procure this mammoth wad of cash; let the party begin. Book a table at Ellipsis and sip on their finest single malt. One drink and a couple of conversations later, make your way to Two One Two Bar and Grill. It’s one of Mumbai’s newest haunts and does a mean steak, medium rare. Or call for one of their pastas – preferably the spaghetti carbonara with crispy pancetta.
Then, make your way to Café Zoe. Everything about the place is really unobtrusive, unlike a lot of places in Mumbai. Even more interesting, it is located in an erstwhile mill and they have retained the original façade.
Grab a table and buy a bottle of Belvedere. If you’re in the mood for Southeast Asian cuisine, then Yauatcha is your best bet. Order some Chilean sea bass, cooked to perfection, and pork spare ribs. Pair it with a bottle of Bollinger. It truly is a gastronomic experience worth every penny. Aer is another great place to grab a bite. Sip on some fine wine while overlooking Mumbai’s lights from their rooftop.
Once you’re well-fed, it’s time to hit the nightclubs. In the city that never sleeps, unfortunately, the clubs shut down by 2am. So, make sure you finish dinner early, and drive to Trilogy. This is when things get posh.
Actually they get exorbitantly posh! Book a table in the VVIP section at least two days in advance. Once you’re there, they will make sure that you are treated like a celebrity. You’ll be whisked away to your private booth where a butler, a bouncer and a shiny bottle of Dom Pérignon awaits you.
The DJ will even announce your arrival. Dance the night away. And do remember to ask for Jägermeister shots – they are specially carved glasses worth shooting out of.
Wrap the party at Trilogy and then go to Live. I know it’s a long drive but it is definitely worth the trip. Live is where the crème-de-la-crème of Mumbai’s social life is seen. Entry into Live is strictly by guest list or if you buy a table. So, get your name on it before you get there. They have a great collection of alcohol, so drink!
Post 2am, head to a suite in the Four Seasons and party till dawn.
...And if you’re feeling skint
Kanika Parab and Mansi Poddar of Brown Paper Bag tell you what to do Mumbai parties aren’t about the location or carrying the right luxury handbag. Find a great crowd at WeThePpl’s dance parties (Grime Riot Disco), there are a couple scheduled before the end of 2012.
The best part about these is that they’re usually at random clubs, so there’s always the element of fun. Find them on Facebook or at wethepeopleareready.com.
If you’re cool, you’ll be partying on a boat. But if you’re really cool, you’ll be the one chartering the big yacht once owned by Gautam Singhania and now by Dipannita Sharma Atwal. The three-masted Arabian sailing dhow is great for a party off the coast, away from the noise and well... the common people! And it’s actually cheaper than getting into any of the top clubs on New Year’s Eve.
Email Anjali Suri on email@example.com to book and cross your fingers.
Want a hotel that doesn’t seem like a hotel? Sunny’s House on Colaba’s Merewether Road is a cute bed and breakfast (and by this we mean full Parsi breakfast) which is close enough to the Gateway to see the crowds but far enough away to escape the superdensecrushload of humanity. There’s free Wi-Fi and for extra fun, you can watch the rich dive into the Taj Hotel’s pool. How will you know it’s 2013? When the ships in the harbour collectively blow their horns at midnight.
But if you’re stuck in the suburbs and still want a bit of personality to your lodgings, stay at Bandra’s le Sutra hotel. You can choose from the Ravana-themed room, the Maya room and a gambling-themed room. And should you wish to venture outside, hip Bandra is full of parties for you to usher in the New Year.
- Rachel Lopez
The alternative, but wild night out
Expert: Tinu Verghese, model
Let’s get one thing clear – if you want to party in a five-star hotel then you’re wasting your time in Goa. Yes, there are some really exquisite hotels here, but partying there is like partying anywhere else in the world. Goa is different. Goa is fun. Goa is wild. Goa is young.
If you’re a bunch of young party revellers looking for a night on the town, then head to I-95 Restaurant and Bar in Saligao. This restaurant serves nouvelle cuisine. They have an excellent menu and their chef Sumeira is a little lady who puts in a lot of attention to detail.
Call for gratinated French goat cheese, beef carpaccio and crab cakes served with wasabi cream. For mains, go for the applewood bacon-wrapped beef medallion stuffed with blue cheese, shelled-out farm butter-poached lobster and lemon rind-dusted tiger prawns. Pair these with some of their fantastic cocktails.
Try the delicious caipirinhas made with fresh tropical fruits. Do order yourself a nice bottle of champagne to start off this delicious meal. For dessert, try their dark chocolate and espresso souffle, wild berry pavlova and the traditional apple crumble.
What is really special about this place is its service. You’ll always see the most sought-after people from the film industry, fashion and the business world at this place. But whether you are Akshay Kumar, Abhay Deol or a brother from next door, you’ll have the attention and care of the Maitre d’ and owner Sunil Singh.
The setting of the restaurant is idyllic and tables are set with candles all around the garden.
Once you are nicely high and stuffed, head to Vagator to Cirrus. It’s the only place in Goa where you can listen to some really good music while enjoying the wilderness.
The experience is worth more than money can buy. Their Mojitos are made with jaggery and homegrown fresh mint. Divine…! Soon, you might also get to taste their goat’s milk cheese. The perfectly organic people who run this place with the right amount of love, will always bring you back for more. The fire dancers are like mesmerising little ballerinas.
If you’re in Goa, a bit of gambling is allowed. Even though most casinos are on cruises, there are others on land too. Some casinos are open till the wee hours. So head to Las Vegas – the gaming club at the Leela hotel – and bet your luck. You might lose it all or recover everything you’ve spent till now. It’s worth a shot.
...All roads lead to Goa at this time
Tips: Ajitnanand Hattangadi, partner, M&M
Hospitality, and partner, Bardays Inn, Calangute
On weekends, the best place to catch some retro music is Cavala, at Saunta Vaddo in Calangute. This low-key resort hosts music performances though the year, but right now is when it kicks into high gear.
Tito’s is one of Goa’s most famous nightclubs, and at this time, it hosts both indoors and outdoors parties starting from Christmas Eve that can see up to 3,400 revellers let their hair down. A not-to-be-missed spectacle.
For a quieter experience that takes in shopping, music and good food, head to the Saturday Night Market at Baga Creek (the Anjuna Flea Market is now highly overrated).
Food is always a priority in Goa, and it all comes down to eating the freshest seafood under the stars. The Flying Dolphin shack at Holiday Street in Calangute has yummy seafood, as well as Mediterranean, Continental and Goan specials. Calamari at Sinquerim beach is slightly high-end, but makes it up with their food. Another good option is Café Del Mar at Baga, which serves up Continental and Goan specials.
Right now, scoring a decent budget room in Goa would be a miracle. Your best bet to really save money is to pile on to friends who have a home (or holiday home) in the state, or those have already made their bookings.
Millions of revellers are in Goa at this time. That translates into a lot of cars and two-wheelers, and corresponding traffic jams. So on weekends, and especially on December 31st, leave your hotel well ahead of time to get to your destination.
- Mignonne Dsouza
The live-it-up, ultimate celebration
Expert: Salah Sadeq, DJ and creative director / partner, jk58 (a creative agency)
If you want to party in Dubai and party in style, start with booking a room at Atlantis, the Palm. Call in advance and book one of their suites – my personal favourite is the underwater room. Once the booking is done, the magic begins. They will send a fully-stocked stretch limousine or a Bentley to fetch you from the airport. You can start partying in the car – pop open the champagne and enjoy the sights and sounds of Dubai.
Once at Atlantis, just ask the bell boy to take your luggage to your suite and head straight to Nasimi for a sundowner party. The restaurant overlooks the pristine white beach and has great views of the city, and the terrace actually spills onto the beach. Grab some succulent grilled meat and seafood, fresh off the barbeque – accompanied by salads and thirst quenchers – a glass of champagne (start slow, it’s going to be a long night and you don’t want to pass out just yet). The music is mostly old-school funk, disco and a slice of deep house.
Now, head back and change into your finest because you’re going to heaven – food heaven, that is! Head to Nobu, but remember to book a table or else you will be left waiting endlessly in your Sunday best. Don’t eat like a peasant in the main dining area. Book the private dining room. It comes complimentary with a bottle of wine which is handpicked by owner Robert De Niro from an exclusive winery in Italy. Obviously, have a menu prepared in advance and just wait to be served like royalty.
Remember to call for their Hokusetsu saki, which is imported exclusively for Nobu from Sado Island in Japan. It’s a gastronomical adventure for unfamiliar palates. Order their famous yellowtail appetiser, the black cod entrée, bluefin tuna (extremely expensive and rare) and Moshi ice cream. The regulars swear by this set menu. And who might they be? F1 racers, Angelina Jolie or even Shah Rukh Khan.
Right, now that you’ve stuffed yourself, it’s time to burn it out. So amble down to N’Dulge – a nightclub in Atlantis. Go to the Lounge first and relax in the private VIP room. Order some coffee-infused tequila shots and get buzzed. Then head to the Arena to watch burlesque dancers do their thing. Post midnight, go to the Terrace and party under the Arabian stars while overlooking the glittering city.
Clubs in Dubai stay open till 3am, so club hop. Next, go to Trilogy at Souk Madinat Jumeirah. Spread over three levels, Trilogy is the ultimate party place, especially their VVIP alcoves. They’re shaped like a crystal ball overlooking the lower floors and come with a complimentary magnum of champagne or Grey Goose. It really doesn’t get better than this.
Post 3am, head back to your suite in Atlantis and party till the crack of dawn. Trust me, the hangover you’re imagining right now is completely worth it.
If you’ve already blown your cash, but still have a few days in Dubai…
First, check out of the expensive hotel you’re living in and move into a budget hotel like Ibis. If you want a no-frills bed for a night, then instead of budget two-star hotels, head to the Dubai Youth Hostel. The rooms are clean and double sharing; that way you can share the cost with someone.
Once you have a roof over your head, start partying again. Your first stop should be the palm-studded Al Dhiyafah Street. It is lined with charming streetside cafes. Make sure you stop at Sidra and devour their salads, soups, lamb chops, hunks of roast lamb and dollops of natural yoghurt. Or you could indulge your desi palate at the World Trade Centre Road where tens of curry houses serve piping hot Indian curries.
After you’re done eating, it’s time for parties. Partying in Dubai is a doddle for women – go out on Tuesday night and you will be drinking at least two or three free drinks in almost every bar. Head to the upmarket Boudoir club because they offer excellent happy hours, and ladies, you may get free Moët on Tuesdays.
If you want to smoke some perfumed tobacco (sheesha), then go to the quirky Hakaya Café. Later, hop across the street to Rush Inn Hotel. Don’t go by their décor. The parties there go on till 3am. Drink endless rounds of wine and watch the dancers do a jig.
The once-in-a-lifetime gourmet feast
Expert: Deepak Ohri, CEO of lebua Hotels & Resorts
Bangkok has rapidly established itself as Asia’s capital of partying and registers a strong steady blip on the global nightlife radar. Take a step away from its raunchy image and you’ll find that Bangkok has one of the finest high-end restaurants and clubs that will leave you with an experience like none before.
Partying in Bangkok is easy but partying in style and sophistication is expensive. If you have the greens in your pocket, then head straight to Sirocco. Located on the 63rd floor of the The Dome at lebua, Sirocco is the world’s highest al fresco restaurant and one of Bangkok’s most coveted dining choices. You’re literally amongst the gods with a breathtaking view of the city and the Chao Phraya river.
Obviously, when you’re dining with gods, you can’t just walk in and grab a table. Call the restaurant and book a table well in advance.
First, head to the multi-hued Sky Bar where minutes will turn into timeless moments. Imagine sipping a Hangovertini at the world’s highest outdoors bar. Then, switch to the finest vintage red wine – 1961 Château Palmer – and settle down at your table. Order the sensational seared Alaskan diver-caught king scallop (a diver will actually fetch the fresh scallops for you fresh from the sea bed) and Wagyu beef sirloin.
They also serve the world’s most expensive caviar, Almas, 30 grams of which costs over THB 51,000 (which is almost R90,000). This Beluga caviar is white in appearance and comes from a fish which is over 100 years old. Well, they say old is gold. Don’t forget to pair it with 1998 G.H. Mumm, Cuvée R. Lalou champagne while listening to the jazz quartet play some soothing jazz hooks.
Then for some fine dining, go to Mezzaluna – lebua’s fine dining restaurant. Reserve a window table to get the perfect view of the winding Chao Phraya River. But, if you’re not that lucky, don’t fret.
They actually raise the inner circle so that everyone can enjoy their vantage view of the city while enjoying their meal.
But if you really want to be pampered, then book their private dining room. When you enter, a string quartet will welcome you into a room of unmatchable grandeur. After all, you will eat the finest food with specially crafted cutlery that has your initials etched on it. And wipe your hands on a napkin with your name embroidered on it. If that’s not all, each dish will be styled in such a way that it resembles your name’s initials.
If you ask them in advance, they will tailor-make a three course meal for you. And if you still feel you’re missing the nightclubs, you can also head out for a raucous night on the town!
...If you want to dance the night away
Gaggan Anand, he of the eponymous restaurant that serves his brand of Indian molecular gastronomy cuisine, has a few suggestions:
Bangkok is full of great hideouts that aren’t sleazy or expensive. If you really want to party with the locals, head to Central World mall (close to the Chidlom station on the SkyTrain). The mall gets into the spirit of things with a huge beer garden, a fireworks display and some 10,000 people all having fun. It’s totally safe and free!
If you’re the clubbing type, head to Soi 11 in the upper Sukhumvit area, where there have been lots of new clubs opening in recent times. A decade ago, no one would have believed this to be a place where all the happening parties were. Head to Above Eleven, the Bed Supper Club, Levels, and Q Bar, which always have a great vibe.
Few Indians know that Kaho San Road is the place to party on the street when it’s New Year’s Eve. Backpackers, clubbers, young tourists, hip locals, they’re all out on the street having a good time. Bottles of alcohol are sold in little buckets and you can actually drink on the streets. Forget entry charges and reservations!
Of course, there’s fun indoors too. You’ll have to search a bit to find Wong’s Place – a much-loved Bangkok legend near the Ibis hotel on Sathon Soi 1. The mood is retro and so is the decor – they’ve got photos of patrons that go back to the 1970s! The beer is always flowing, there’s a singalong, VHS tapes play stuff from The Jackson 5 – yes, it’s that retro!
Be warned though – the place can accommodate barely 40 people and it is always crowded.
Of course, you could just head to some of the smaller places along the Chao Praya and enjoy a whole 10 minutes of fireworks when the clock strikes midnight!
If you can score a reservation, Gaggan’s will do a 12-course meal (plus a bonus dessert) of his greatest menu hits of 1012 - all the stuff you'll never eat in 2013!
- Rachel Lopez
From HT Brunch, December 23
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