Where to Stay

Delhi, India
At Hauz Khas village. 13/05/2011. Photo: Divya Babu/Mint
Hauz Khas Village is a popular city spot (Pic credit: Tripoto)

General Zones & What They Offer

The residential parts of Delhi for visitors are mostly Central & South Delhi, as well as the Chankyapuri area near the army areas and the airport, where 5-star hotels line up like soldiers. Staying in an area like GK (Greater Kailash) or Hauz Khas Village means that you can saunter down to buzzing markets, cafes and bars. Anywhere in South Delhi will only be a short rickshaw ride to these areas.

If you’re unsure of which guesthouses you should stay out, check out curated lists by Little Black Book here and here. For guesthouses and B&Bs in Gurgaon, click here.

If you’re looking for a hostel, this curated guide might help.

Places To Stay Away From

It’s difficult to come up with a definitive list of unsafe areas. Generally speaking, the more crowded and well-lit a place is, the more comfortable you’ll feel. But even areas like Malviya Nagar, bang next to a very well-heeled Panscheel Park, are noted to be less safe.It’s difficult to come up with a definitive list of unsafe areas. Generally speaking, the more crowded and well-lit a place is, the more comfortable you’ll feel. But even areas like Malviya Nagar, bang next to a very well-heeled Panscheel Park, are noted to be less safe.

Tourists tend to flock to Paharganj and Mahipalpur because of the number of budget accommodation options and their purported tourist friendliness; personally, I have never liked the areas. It’s not the part of a city that one falls in love with. Friends have reported touts trying to con tourists, and there has been word about drug activity. While this may or may not be true, why not stay in a South Delhi area that is genuinely lovely to spend time in?

Mahipalpur Hotels
Mahipalpur is dotted with low-cost hotels but tend to attract controversy (Pic credit: Indian Express)

Also, there are plenty of malls in Delhi & Gurgaon. Most of them tend to be perfectly safe, but there are a few shady ones. I think the best measure is what kind of stores that particular mall has. If it has plenty of brands that you are familiar with and/or a Starbucks or Costa Coffee or Coffee Bean, you’re probably mingling with a crowd that shares your expectations. Word of caution: most malls have underground parking. The first basement is almost always full of people, but the 2nd or 3rd basement levels tend to have thinner crowds. I’d recommend that women get off at the ground level main entrance, and if you have a car and driver, ask them to meet you at the front entrance at a fixed time. There is no mobile phone network in the basement, so it will be tough to communicate with the vehicle’s driver once he is underground. Nevertheless, make arrangements beforehand to be met at ground level.

Do’s & Don’ts

For small and medium size hotels and guesthouses, it can be hard to have a definitive rating system. I highly recommend calling the main line of the hotel that you’re considering before you arrive; a good chat is sometimes all you need to feel comfortable. But at any point if you feel uncomfortable, leave immediately (without making a scene) and don’t worry about offending anyone. Rude, ill-mannered guests often leave a hotel worse off than when they arrive; by comparison, simply walking away does no harm to anyone.

Some hotels may not approve of unmarried couples staying together; they’ve gone so far as to ask for a marriage certificate when friends have tried to check in! Fake wedding rings may or may not help, but whatever you do, don’t try to demonstrate the nature of your relationship through any obvious acts of affection. All PDA is frowned upon in general, and traditional-minded hotel staff might make unnecessary assumptions about the kind of attention you are trying to attract.

Once you’re safe and settled into a space that you do like, make sure you keep the hotel’s number on you when you venture out.

AditiDatta_100x100
Nothing makes Aditi happier than good shampoo, good design, evolutionary theory and a spicy Bloody Mary. A Bombay girl to begin with, she’s made a home in New York, Glasgow, Singapore and London over the last ten years. After a one-day career in hand modelling (true story) and a much, much longer stint in brands & advertising, Aditi is all set to make the most of her Delhi/NCR chapter. Aditi is the Delhi Editor for Zafigo and her writing has appeared in Little Black Book Delhi, Travel+Leisure and Huffington Post.