New Delhi wasn’t originally on my list of places to visit, but after Japan Airlines became bookable with Alaska Air Mileage plan, I decided to jump on the opportunity to fly from New Delhi to Tokyo in business class and Tokyo to Jakarta in First class for 30,000 miles on Japan Airlines, which eventually transformed into an 11-day journey around the world! Being able to fly two international segments in first and business class for the price of a roundtrip domestic economy ticket is hard to pass on! Unfortunately Japan Airlines has recently announced a service change that will see the Tokyo to Jakarta route being operated by a Boeing 787 as of March 1, which doesn’t feature a first class cabin.
I knew I wanted to stay near the airport as my flight would be arriving around midnight, and I was scheduled to depart the following evening. I always prefer to stay near airports as I’m usually tired upon arrival. For a short one-night stay, I never mind paying for a taxi or hotel car service to explore the city for a day. Thankfully Marriott had recently opened a JW property in the buzzing Aerocity district near the airport. It was really crazy to see the hotels popping up in the area, with many still under construction – I must have counted 15 properties near the airport that are brand new or currently being built. Being a Marriott Gold Elite, I was eligible for an upgrade to an executive floor room, including lounge access, similar to my stay at The Marriott SkyCity Hong Kong Hotel. Marriott Gold status, along with SPG Gold, is one of the many benefits of The American Express Canada Platinum Card and a great way to save money at Starwood and Marriott properties around the world! The JW Marriott New Delhi had paid rates around $225 per night, plus taxes, so I decided to use some Marriott Reward points for the one-night stay.
I was offered a confirmed upgrade to an Executive Room on the lounge floor, but asked if I could instead have a terrace room on the second floor with an outdoor patio space overlooking the pool. The agent was happy to arrange it and assured I would still have complimentary access to the lounge on the third floor.
My flight from Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific was delayed just over an hour, and line-ups for immigration at DEL were long, even at 1am. Thankfully I had arranged an airport transfer through the hotel as I wouldn’t have been in the mood to haggle with a taxi driver at that hour. The JW Marriott associate was waiting just after customs and greeted me warmly. He also advised the hotel had upgraded me to an Audi A4, compared to the Honda I had booked. It should be noted that airport transfers are not included in the room rate and cost approximately $20CAD, which is well worth it in my opinion, especially on arrival. The hotel currently does not have any sort of shuttle service, which is a little strange given their proximity to the airport.
The property is about 10 minutes from the airport (at least at 1:30am with less traffic) with a series of security checks and gates. It was hard to get a good look at the hotel in the dark, but it felt like a fortress with all of the walls. My first impression of the lobby was ‘wow’. This was my first stay at a JW, but something told me this level of luxury and opulence is unique to the region and not necessarily something you would find in North America.
Check-in took about 10 minutes, as there was a person in front of me and only one person at the desk. The associate was friendly, but didn’t seem to understand my request for a terrace room. She kept insisting I be on the third floor for lounge access, but I explained I would be happier in a terrace room with lounge access and that I was fine with being on a different floor. Finally she got it, and gave me the key for room 2024. The hotel is only 5 or 6 stories, with the first set of guest rooms, pool, fitness centre and spa on the second floor. The first floor has the lobby, a large lounge with outdoor seating, different dining areas, including K3 and a small bistro, as well as a large outdoor patio area. On the other side of the ground floor is a large convention area.
The agent asked if I needed a hand with my luggage and directed me to the elevator lobby just opposite the check-in area. The lobby had no shortage of fresh flowers, marble, and interesting art.
The elevators were quick and I never had to wait more than a few seconds for one to arrive. I loved the sword art display in the elevator! On each floor there were more fresh flowers and a sign asking guests to keep noise levels down in common areas as a consideration to other visitors.
The hotel was quite large and well laid out. The hallways were very nice and spotlessly clean. Every time I left the room I encountered some friendly staff working on some deep cleaning in different common areas. I was assigned room 2024, which was about 30 seconds from the elevator.
I was exhausted at this point and really just wanted to go to bed. I don’t often get excited about airport hotel rooms, unless it’s The Fairmont Vancouver Airport, but as soon as I entered this room I was blown away! Just inside the door on the left was a large closet and place to sit down. The closet featured the in-room safe, a couple of drawers, and slippers. Just beside the built-in bench was another huge closet with bathrobe, iron, luggage rack, and plenty of storage for personal belongings.
Room controls were simple and easy to use. As like most properties in Asia, a room-key needed to be inserted at the door to activate the electricity. Switches were located throughout the room, including bedside.
The bathroom was just opposite the closets in the entrance foyer and one of the nicest washrooms I’ve ever experienced! There was a beautiful vanity across from the door, with all of the amenities you might need. To the right was the toilet, which was strangely only partially partitioned off, rather than fully enclosed with a door. On the right was the large soaker tub and huge marble shower, with rainforest head and handheld sprayer. This was truly a spa-like experience and a welcome sight after the long flight from Hong Kong.
The walls surrounding the bathtub could be opened, creating an open space into the rest of the room, which is a feature I love!
Alternatively, the doors could be closed for privacy.
Amenities were by Aromatherapy, and very good quality. I had to be very selective on which items I took home this trip due to limited space in my carry-on but decided to grab a couple of these.
The main room was very large and well laid-out, with a television built into the wall next to the minibar and kitchenette. In the corner, near the patio door, was a work desk with ample space and a universal power bar.
The minibar and kitchenette area was nicely stocked with snacks and cold beverages. I had emailed the concierge in advance to ask about lounge access, and was told I could have anything out of the minibar in lieu of the lounge since I would be arriving so late. That’s a first I’ve had a hotel extend an offer like that and it was greatly appreciated. There was also a small coffee station and selection of teas.
In the corner opposite the work desk, beside the bed, was a large sitting area with comfortable lounge chair. There was also a table with welcome fruit, although I couldn’t tell if it was decorative or for consumption…
The king bed was extremely comfortable and featured high quality linens and pillows. There were two bedside tables, each with lamp and bottled water. There were lighting controls on each side, along with bottled water, an alarm clock, telephone, and notepad.
I didn’t sleep well at all because of jet lag, and instead watched some television until the early hours of the morning. The cable system was a bit confusing, although there was a notice that they were currently in process of upgrading their service provider. I finally fell asleep around 6:00am and woke up shortly after 10:30am, just after breakfast service ended in the lounge. I called the front desk and they offered to have breakfast sent up to the room, which was a very kind gesture!
The room terrace overlooked the pool, with privacy landscaping creating a natural barrier. There were no other guests in terrace rooms as far as I could tell, which made for a very private setting. I did find it kind of odd that each terrace featured only 1 seat.
I decided to spend some time at the pool, as the fog had lifted and it was a very mild winter day. It must have been around 20 degrees celsius by noon, but in the sun felt much warmer. The pool area was nice, although it was courtyard style and surrounded by 3 walls of rooms, which didn’t make for an especially private experience.
The fitness centre and spa were just inside from the pool on the second floor. The gym had plenty of modern equipment with cardio machines facing the pool deck. I didn’t get a chance to try the spa, though the lobby area looked beautiful!
I took full advantage of my late checkout, courtesy of Marriott Gold status, and spent the afternoon by the pool relaxing. At 4:00pm I made my way down to the front desk and asked for an airport transfer. My flight to Tokyo wasn’t scheduled until 8:20pm, so I was going to be about 4 hours early to a lounge with very underwhelming reviews. By the time I got to the front door the house car was already waiting for me, and it was a black Mercedes-Benz S class. Nice! The driver was very friendly and immediately asked my flight details.
After realizing how early I was for my flight, the driver asked if I wanted to see some of Delhi. He said he would have enough time to take me to the Qutb complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as a couple markets if I was interested. I thanked him very much for the generous and unexpected gesture!
As per the UNESCO website:
Qutb Minar and its Monuments, Delhi
Built in the early 13th century a few kilometres south of Delhi, the red sandstone tower of Qutb Minar is 72.5m high, tapering from 2.75m in diameter at its peak to 14.32m at its base, and alternating angular and rounding flutings. The surrounding archaeological area contains funerary buildings, notably the magnificent Alai-Darwaza Gate, the masterpiece of Indo-Muslim art (built in 1311), and two mosques, including the Quwwatu’l-Islam, the oldest in northern India, built of materials reused from some 20 Brahman temples.
The entire experience took about 2.5 hours, and I was dropped off at the terminal with a two hours to spare before my flight. I thanked the driver again, and let him know that of all of my luxury hotel stays, I’ve never appreciated a gesture so much, as I got to see a lot of the culture of New Delhi in a very short amount of time! I made sure to send the GM of the hotel a nice email commending the drivers warm hospitality.
This was my first stay at a JW Marriott hotel and I must admit I was blown away. I didn’t have especially high expectations for a North American branded airport hotel, but wow, this place was serious luxury. The room was beautifully finished with one of the nicest bathrooms I’ve ever experienced in a hotel, and the outdoor terraces and pool really made you forget you were in the middle of a bustling mini-city near a major international airport.
Furthermore, however, was the staff – especially the driver responsible for getting me to the airport. With one simple gesture, he made New Delhi one of the best parts of my trip while creating lasting memories. It’s not often you get to visit a UNESCO World Heritage Site and haggle with shop owners in the market en-route to the airport! Redeeming points for this hotel was a great value at 25,000 Marriott Reward points, inclusive of all taxes, and an even better deal given my upgrade and lounge access, including breakfast, courtesy of my Marriott Gold Elite status. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this hotel to anyone staying in Delhi for a day, but would caution it is quite a drive from the city, and to expect heavy traffic if making the commute. I will definitely be staying at The JW Marriott Aerocity Hotel next time I have a stopover in New Delhi!