Spectator by Seema Goswami: A room with a view

Published on Aug 05, 2022 09:11 PM IST
And why, sometimes, it’s impossible to tear yourself away. Have you experinced this while on a vacation?
At the Taj in Agra, the idea is that from the moment you opened your eyes to the time you go to bed, you could witness the majesty of the Taj from the privacy of your room (Aparna Ram)
At the Taj in Agra, the idea is that from the moment you opened your eyes to the time you go to bed, you could witness the majesty of the Taj from the privacy of your room (Aparna Ram)
BySeema Goswami

My visits to Bangkok usually involve a whirl of activity. There are all those malls to visit, amazing bookshops to browse in, food courts in which I can make a pig of myself, and endless temples and monuments to marvel at. But the last time I visited the Thai capital, I found myself loath to leave my hotel room. And that’s entirely down to the view that held me enthralled every time I looked out of the glass walls of the Four Seasons.

There was the Chao Phraya in all its muddy glory, with boats, barges and ferries of every description going back and forth all day and night. There were those towering skyscrapers reaching high into a horizon darkened with monsoon clouds. And the spectacle grew even more awesome when the skies opened up and the rain came cascading down. I could have sat and watched this show forever—and on more occasions than I can count, I did exactly that.

Honestly, when the view from your room is so spectacular, where is the incentive to leave it and go forth to explore the city?

I have had quite the same problem—if you can call it one—at several other destinations as well. Here are just some of them, in no particular order of importance.

Amar Vilas, Agra

The conceit, when this hotel first opened, was that every room—even every bathroom—had a view of the Taj Mahal. The idea was that from the moment you opened your eyes to the time you drew the curtains to go to bed, you could witness the majesty of the Taj from the privacy of your room. And on every occasion I visited over the years, I found it impossible to tear myself away from that view. I would end up eating all my meals on the balcony so that I could feast on the beauty of the monument alongside. And even though I couldn’t make it to the Taj itself on my last two visits (because of Covid restrictions) it was enough to just sit and stare at the white marble memorial all day long.

Le Mirador Resort and Spa, Vevey

It’s been more than a decade since I visited this hotel, situated high on Mont Pelerin, with fabulous vistas of Lake Geneva and the Swiss Riviera. But the view from my hotel room, with its wraparound balcony, is as fresh in my mind as if I had seen it yesterday. The searing blue of the waters below, dotted with sparkling white yachts, the snow-capped peaks of the Swiss Alps above, all brought together with azure, cloudless skies; all of it was enough to make you feel as if you were living in a dream. At night, the silvery moon was reflected in the

shimmering waters of the lake, a mesmerizing sight that held me captive for hours on end.

The Sujan, Jawai

There is something thrilling—and enthralling—about living in a tent in the midst of wilderness, in the shadow of granite hills in which leopards roam free. And that’s the USP of the experience at the tented camp run by the husband-wife team of Jaisal and Anjali Singh in the rugged terrain of Jawai. For jaded city dwellers like me, there is nothing quite so special as waking up to the sounds of wildlife, sipping your morning tea amidst the wild grass that grows around your tent, and dining under the stars, on a verandah illuminated only by candles and oil lamps. Spectacular doesn’t begin to cover it.

The Gritti Palace, Venice

Sitting on the tiny little balcony of my first-floor room, looking on to the Grand Canal, I could almost convince myself that I was living within a Renaissance painting by one of the Italian Grand Masters. The beautiful palazzi dotting the canal, the domed cathedral in front of me, innumerable gondolas drifting up and down the water with strains of ‘Volare’ filling the air, it was a scene that was reminiscent of a gentler, more romantic age. And sitting there and watching the world go past, it was possible to forget about the teeming crowds in San Marco square and the overloaded vaporettos and just immerse myself in the sweetness of doing nothing—what the Italians like to call ‘il dolce far niente’.

The views expressed by the columnist are personal

Catch Seema Goswami’s column every fortnight in HT Brunch. It will next appear on August 20, 2022.

From HT Brunch, August 6, 2022

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