Founders | Indie Hotels in Jaipur, Mumbai and Delhi

Exploring Indie-Boutique addresses in Delhi, Jaipur and Mumbai

The term ‘Indie’ is often used as a short form for independent and ‘Boutique’ referring to a small business serving a sophisticated or specialized clientele. This could explain the current design movement that can be seen in both fashion and hospitality businesses. When buying into an indie boutique brand, you expect a niche experience that is crafted to individual taste. We interviewed founders of such hospitality addresses to understand what goes behind crafting a design-led unique experience ideal for a slow modern traveller.

Guntas Randhawa

Haveli Hauz Khas, New Delhi:

1. What led to the idea of your boutique stay? How did it all start? What background of education and work experience do you have?

After I retired from the Indian Administrative Service, my wife and I together opened a Bed & Breakfast -  'Haveli Hauz Khas' - in my home/heritage mansion. I am a heritage aficionado and have written books on Indian heritage and travel - having toured extensively in India and abroad.

2. Could you describe the design aesthetic you chose and more about the design philosophy of your brand?

Haveli Hauz Khas is designed with Indian heritage as the main theme - with photographs, lithographs, canvases, carved wood, traditional textiles and hand-woven durries. The rooms and the common areas are on the heritage themes of Ajanta, Hampi, Banni, Kama and Neem. Haveli is adorned with a wide range of eclectic and rare photographs I have taken over the course of my life, from capturing slowly disappearing nomadic tribes, to rare reproductions of the cave paintings of Hampi & Ajanta to seldom seen portraits of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. In addition to this, guests are free to peruse and browse my extensive book collection, including of books written by me.

Links to a few books available online:

https://www.amazon.in/Sikhs-Images-Heritage-T-S-Randhawa/dp/8172340346

https://www.amazon.in/Kachchh-Last-Frontier-T-S-Randhawa/dp/8172340117/

3. Describe the client profile you currently have. Is there a market that you wish to tap into in the future?

Our guests are primarily from Europe / Australia, who are looking for a uniquely ethnic, safe and luxurious space to stay in rather than a standard hotel chain. We would like to further expand into other demographics who are seeking this traditional experience.

4. What sort of special services and facilities do you provide? Are there any add-on services to your product?

Haveli Hauz Khas is a safe, tree-lined, quiet, centrally located oasis for travellers. Hauz Khas is one of the most pleasant areas of Delhi and is centrally located. It has easy access to the airport and the major roads, tourist sites and commercial areas. All the major tourist sites and monuments are close by, like Hauz Khas village and its lake and monuments, Qutub complex, Mehrauli archaeological park, Safdarjung and Humayun's tomb, Hauz Khas Metro Station. Hauz Khas Village itself is close by, housing some of the best restaurants in Delhi and a vibrant nightlife, for guests to check out.

We strive to make sure every guest is well taken care of, be it from landing into Delhi, answering their queries about India or their travel plans. In addition, I have travelled to almost all parts of India and can answer a lot of queries guests have about India and its customs. We would love to share our space with travellers and art lovers!

5. How do you compete with the likes of BNB which is also now doing boutique luxury?

The more the merrier! India is famous for its warmth and hospitality. Haveli Hauz Khas offers a unique experience, from it’s safe, quiet and green location to the large bedrooms, in addition to interacting with me and having all their questions about India answered.

We are fortunate and lucky to have been featured by the Telegraph:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/asia/india/delhi/new-delhi/hotels/haveli-hauz-khas-hotel/

Invite for my last book lecture at INTACH, Lodi Estate on “Traditional Indian Residential Architecture – Form, Design, Social Spaces and Relevance”

https://www.facebook.com/HaveliBnB/posts/1495180933910362

A few popular travel portals have featured us as well:

https://www.tripsavvy.com/delhi-bed-and-breakfasts-and-homestays-1539859

https://www.petitfute.com/v46291-delhi/c1166-hebergement/c151-chambre-d-hotes/1584848-haveli-hauz-khas.html

Thanks to our happy guests, we have been awarded the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for 2017 & 2016, and currently are the no. 6th B&B out of 1143 B&B’s in Delhi

6. In 3 Words, what are your USPs?

Location, Comfort, Uniqueness!

We strive to be an Oasis for all travellers.

7. How do you monetise in the non-traveller season? Are there any brand activities and other collaborations that bring in business?

Luckily we are more or less occupied for the whole year, either with travellers or long-term guests!

Pauline Bijvoet

Scarlette, New Delhi:

1. How did it all start? What led to the idea of your boutique stay? What background of education and work experience do you have?

I was in India for 4 years, working for a French designer brand. I wanted to do something in the hospitality business, a bit of deco mixed with cooking and hospitality, even if I did a business school, this was something I liked, and India was the right place to do it, so much of possibilities in decoration, in food and a big demand in boutique hotels in Delhi.

2. Could you describe the design aesthetic you chose and more about the design philosophy of your brand?

I am trying to use mainly Indian materials, and I added a small French touch, in the silver crockeries for example, like in the old French houses. I am very particular in the Indian technics, painting, fabric weavings, woodwork etc... I even just bought a beautiful Pichwai painting to put in the breakfast area.

I work only with small artisans, especially in cotton weaving, you can find all in the shop in the house.

3. Describe the client profile you currently have. Is there a market that you wish to tap into in the future?

No particular market, it is the diversity which makes the magic, you can meet business people, designers, tourists, young, old, families... Everyone is welcome here!

4. what sort of special services and facilities do you provide? Are there any add-on services to your product?

We really want to be a home away from home, so we would try to fit in any requirement from the guests, travel info, food, good addresses, anything!

5. How do you compete with the likes of BNB which is also now doing boutique luxury?

The word of mouth is the best publicity I have, we try to keep the service and house as constant as possible, even in the low season, we do not change the quality of our guests stay, as other places could do...

6. In 3 Words, what are your USPs?

Home away from home, charming place, conviviality.

7. How do you monetise in the non-traveller season? Are there any brand activities and other collaborations that bring in business?

The house is quite small, and we have a lot of frequent travellers, who come for work even in the rainy season!!!

Abedin Sham

Abode Hotel, Mumbai:

1. How did it all start? What led to the idea of your boutique stay? What background of education and work experience do you have?

It all started around the end of 2012. My father was running a guest house, so the property always existed. My ex-business partner and I, Lizzie Chapman (who co-founded Abode Bombay with me), always had friends visiting. These visitors were either forced to choose from traditional cookie cutter five-star properties or really low-end budget guesthouses/hostels. Most 5 star hotels also just seemed to offer really over the top service that was way too formal, which is something most international guests are not really used to, not comfortable with. Given the intensity of traveling in India, where tourists are bombarded at every given moment when out on the streets, our mission was just to create a little bit of home where guests could come back to and unwind; we wanted them to have space, and be comfortable having conversations about their travels and just live with other guests. We saw a gap in the mid-upscale market.

Abode is built on community. Early on in the building process, we realized that most travellers want great beds, good pressure in the showers, clean rooms, wi-fi, good linen, authentic service, and safety anywhere they travelled anywhere, but especially in India. Guests don't really care for elaborate floral arrangements.I have over 12 years of hospitality experience. After I graduated from Cornell University, I worked with Hyatt Hotels, and boutique hotel group HK hotels in New York before coming back to India.

2. Could you describe the design aesthetic you chose and more about the design philosophy of your brand?

We wanted to showcase the rich art deco history of Bombay. Over the years, architecture has just been covered up and hidden with layers of paints, wires, and plaster boards. We worked with Katy Buckley and Sian Pascale to strip back the years of cover-up, and just go with a classic aesthetic where we showcased the brilliant craftsmanship of local artisans.

3. Describe the client profile you currently have. Is there a market that you wish to tap into in the future?

Our clients are mainly professionals that are looking for a more experiential stay during their stay. They're interested in getting a local experience, finding little cafes, restaurants, and retail stores not usually found in typical tourist guides.They range from 25-45 and mainly work in the non-traditional industries.

4. what sort of special services and facilities do you provide? Are there any add-on services to your product?

We work to empower the local economy and try in our small way to help out micro industries. Our travel company is run by women only, and our spa is mainly serviced by people that are blind (we work with the Victoria school for the blind). We provide us guests cell phones during their stay for them to use

5. How do you compete with the likes of BNB which is also now doing boutique luxury?

We have a unique service offering and focus on our service offerings. A lack of hotel rooms means there's room for everyone to find their own niche, which we think is great for the market.

6. In 3 Words, what are your USPs?

Service, simplicity, authenticity

7. How do you monetise in the non-traveller season? Are there any brand activities and other collaborations that bring in business?

Being a small hotel, we don't see a massive drop in the offseason. We are starting to see a lot more local travellers coming over during the offseason. We haven't done any brand collaborations yet, but it's something we would be open to in the near future.

Abhishek Honawar

28 Kothi, Jaipur:

1. How did it all start? What led to the idea of your boutique stay? What background of education and work experience do you have?

It all started with the vision of late Mr. Munnu Kasliwal (The Gem Palace) who wanted a home away from home for all his guests and collaborators who came from all over the world. This led us to where we are today. After his passing, Siddharth Kasliwal (son of Munnu) led the idea to design the hotel with French Architect Georges Floret, Lebanese designer Nur Kaoukji and me (Abhishek Honawar - Hospitality professional - Honawar Hospitality).

Honawar Hospitality is the company that co-founded and operates 28 Kothi & Cafe Kothi in Jaipur.

I have completed my diploma in Hotel Administration and Food Technology from Sophia's polytechnic - Breach Candy, Mumbai. Since culinary school, I co-own Neighbourhood hospitality Pvt. Ltd. (Bombay)  with two friends (one from culinary school and another). This company owns and operates 5 restaurants in Bombay. (3 gastro pubs, 1 Bakery Cafe, and 1 newly opened Indian restaurant). Honawar Hospitality (fully owned by me) came into existence three years ago to focus on the hotel sector.

2. Could you describe the design aesthetic you chose and more about the design philosophy of your brand?

The goal for the hotel and the cafe is to be a brand ambassador for contemporary modern India that focuses on its culture and heritage and, presents itself in an uncomplicated way. The design at 28 Kothi is minimal, clean and thoughtful of the all the worldly comforts for the modern day traveller.

3. Describe the client profile you currently have. Is there a market that you wish to tap into in the future?

For this project, we have a focused set of travellers who visit Jaipur to enjoy its culture and heritage and often come here to explore and execute ideas in fine textile and jewellery.

4. what sort of special services and facilities do you provide? Are there any add-on services to your product?

At the moment we services include Bicycle rentals nearby, Central air conditioning, Free wi-fi, Garden, Golf nearby, Library, Luggage storage, Multilingual staff, No pets allowed, Off street parking, Off Site, gym facilities, Restaurant, Room service, Shopping area nearby, Smoking rooms (on request), Spa, Spa treatments (on request), Wake-up service, Wood burning fireplace, Yoga

5. How do you compete with the likes of BNB which is also now doing boutique luxury?

our offerings and approach are closest to a boutique hotel. We keep ourselves updated with the requirements of a modern day traveller.

6. In 3 Words, what are your USPs?

creative, being thoughtful and privacy

7. How do you monetise in the non-traveller season? Are there any brand activities and other collaborations that bring in business?

thankfully, we have had a good non-traveller season with repeat international guests who come to Jaipur to work. Our cafe is also instrumental in creating an atmosphere which brings in the creative audience which in turn helps the business.

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