There's no better way to start your day than with a sumptuous breakfast at any of these stunning locations in India, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri lanka...
Slumdog & Millionaires
The Sea lounge on the first floor of the Taj Mahal Hotel, Mumbai, is an institution, where businessmen, bellhops, bodyguards and bombshells all put on impressive performances. Although it is famous for its afternoon high tea, this wonderful dining room overlooks the Gateway of India and there's no better a way to start your day than to be seated by the windows overlooking the Mumbai harbour; order a sumptuous English breakfast and wash it down with some freshly brewed Assam Pekoe.
The Taj Mahal Palace, Hotel & Towers, Apollo Bunder, Mumbai - 400 001. India.
Not so new, but Noteworthy
Now I am not a beach bum, but this place actually got me to change my opinion of those who are! The white sands of Nilaveli Beach Resort stretch for miles from North to South; and right opposite the Hotel is Pigeon Island, a marine national park.
Your private butler will serve you an authentic Sri Lankan breakfast of string and egg hoppers with fiery Fish curry and Sambol - a dry chutney made out of coconut gravy, dry cillies and curry leaves. Sweating already?
OK. Curd and treacle is at hand to calm your taste buds and if your body is on fire then take a plunge in the calm sea.
Km. 19, Pulmoddai road, Nilaveli, Trincomalee, Sri Lanka.
Buddha & the Sahibs
Even though the English were seen here from early in the 19th century, their longing for a full English breakfast must have been a dream.
10 years ago, Jigmed Wangchuk Namgyal, the King of Stok, Ladakh, kindly allowed us the use of his Palace courtyard to witness traditional Ladakhi dances. His generosity overflowed when he called us all into his charming Durbar Hall where we feasted upon a hearty Kashmiri Wazwan meal. Doesn't sound Ladakhi at all does it?
Don't worry momos and thukpas were served for starters and thats what you'll get at The Stok Palace Heritage Hotel - a mere 9 miles east of Leh in Ladakh.
Here, for breakfast, you'll be served momos with hot soy and chilli sauce; and Thanktuk - a very popular local soup; and of course Thukpa. You'll need this kind of food here to keep yourself warm, and we hope you have the stomach to gulp down cups of Yak butter tea to wash it all down!
Plain tales from the Taj
An oasis of romance for the well heeled Taj Pilgrims, the the Oberoi Amar Vilas is perhaps the only other building in Agra which can rival the Taj Mahal - possibly the most photographed monument in the world.
Book a room with a balcony, or stay in one of the elegant suites to catch stunning views of the marble mausoleum. And while you contemplate whether to renew your wedding vows or simply propose marriage, a champagne breakfast, with strawberries, in bed must definitely be an AHA! moment.
The Oberoi Amar Vilas Hotel, East Gate Road, Agra. India.
Forts & Palaces on steroids
If you have a fetish for forts like I do, chances are you will end up at the Ajaibgarh fort, tucked away in a valley, surrounded by the Aravali ranges. Here you will also find the Bhangarh fort with its 11th century 'Narayani Mata' temple. And in these surroundings, dotted with other forts and crumbly Palaces, is a garden estate that was the erstwhile hunting grounds of His Highness, The Maharaja of Alwar.
Beautifully crafted sandstone, and pink marble cupolas and arches make up the 40 exquisite dwellings (some with their own heated pools) we know as the Amanbagh. It is rustic chic personified.
You can have breakfast anywhere, but, my preferred spot is just outside this luxury spa resort, at Somsagar, a reservoir lake tucked in the hills behind the fort.
I went there trekking and reached the spot 45 minutes later. There I received my first ever yoga lesson; and by the time my guru was done with me, a healthy breakfast consisting of fruits, cereals and yoghurts was laid out by our guide, Swaroop.
I wouldn't mind going back there again. You should visit too.
The Amanbagh is owned and run by Aman Hotels, and is 75 Km North East of Jaipur, Rajasthan.
Walk over a hanging wooden bridge (it's harnessed) and you'll come to the open air reception of the Sarai @ Toria, which sits on a promontory; and 150 feet below flows the Ken river. Using rural technology and marrying it with the most modern (practical) amenities, Raghu and Joanna have crafted six beautiful cottages, each one different. Everything about this place is perfect as is the breakfast al fresco !!
The striped cat is making a come back in the Panna National Park and here's your chance to come face to face with a Tiger in (well) complete solitude. Go for it.
Sarai Toria is 25 km S.E. of Khajuraho, in Central India, and is famous for its erotic temples depicting the Kamasutra!
Sarai at Toria, off the road to Panna. Khajuraho. India.
The King & I
The legendary Yul Brynner and Baapji Hukam His Royal Highnes, Jodhpur, would have gotten along like a house on fire and I could have been born here or lived in this magnificent art deco Palace in a previous avatar.
And at Umaid Bhawan is where you'll probably get as close as you can to the Royals of India. Yes, this is the only Palace which a Royal family shares with its paying guests.
Sprawling lawns, a marble gazebo and the 'Pillars' all make up for a perfect breakfast venue. Try the Marwari breakfast. Green chilli dumplings and fiery Chutneys with a bowl of curd, just incase things get hot!
The Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur is managed by the Taj Group of Hotels, India.
Pink Gin & Patiala Pegs
I came of age at the Imperial, and don't you go reading between the lines!
Most of you weren't born then, and the Spice Route (yes, the legendary Spice Route) now sits on what used to be then called the TAVERN, a dingy night club cum eatery of sorts. And before you were hit by the din of "wont you take me to funky town" you had to go past the gatekeeper.
It was a Sloth bear whose eyeballs had been donated by the taxidermist who had stuffed him, and replaced them with a pair of red and a green incandescent bulbs! It obediently held a tray on which stood two bottles of undrinkable Bosca wines! Hard to believe eh?
Since those heady days of funk, and shabby chic, stale railway cutlets and butter toast, the Imperial has metamorphosed into India's premier heritage hotel. The best place to have an English breakfast (with all its trappings) is '1911' which the erstwhile (garden party) coffee shop is now called.
Hotel The Imperial, Janpath, New Delhi, India.
Tipple & a Tiger
Samode Safari lodge symbolises the maturing of Yadavendra Singh, Samode, as a "hotelier" or shall we say a “non hotelier”. Whether its the cast iron artifacts that litter the property, or the “tribal” Gond murals in the bathrooms, the stairs leading to the dining area, the telescope, the trunk; every single thing, every object, has been well thought of, thoroughly researched, and then put into position; and he has a commodity which is becoming scarce by the day. People.
It's a hugely exciting new hotel which will be unparalleled in Bandhavgarh, as it will cater to so many different tastes. Dining, in itself an indulgent treat, is a daily surprise – different menu, different venue - and is either indoors or alfresco, depending on the weather.
Get lucky. Spot the stripes on safari and there'll be a chilled glass of bubbly that you can wash down your breakfast with, at the treetop restaurant! So? What are you waiting for?
Samode Safari lodge, Bandhavgarh National Park. Madhya Pradesh, India.
Simians & Silent Stones - Boulders of Hampi
Have you ever wanted to be part of an Indian Jones type of adventure?..
..complete with lost city, hidden treasures, crumbling temples and screeching monkeys?
Well, here is your chance. Rewind to Hampi. Once the imperial capital of the fabulously rich Vijayanagar Empire, it is probably the closest you will get to the real Indiana Jones experience.
The majestic ruins of the last great Hindu empire lie scattered among the hills and on the banks of the meandering Tungabhadra River. Although centuries of plunder have reduced the once thriving civilisation to a crumbling granite skeleton, the place has lost none of its aura of power and beauty.
We recommend you to stay at Boulders which is amongst very rare resorts of the world. You stay in a small cottage surrounded by stunning countryside that has been set aside as a nature reserve & has sloth bears, leopards and a variety of birds around.
Your host Bobby (the local crocodile Dundee) will be waiting for you at the one spot on this resort that dominates the river below and the ruins in the distance. Watch the story of Hampi come alive while you enjoy a sumptuous local breakfast as must have the rulers of VIjayanagar.
The Boulders, Hampi, Karnataka. India.
The merchants & their mansions
Chettinad could well be the Shekhavati of the South!
Unlike their more illustrious cousins from the North, who left their villages in search of fame and fortune, these merchant princes travelled the seas. They went overseas to Malaysia, Burma, Vietnam and Singapore, and made their fortunes in the teakwood business among other things.
These Chettiars, as they were called, kept their links with the motherland, and today the 74 villages of which perhaps Karaikudi is the most famous, has some outrageous mansions - their kitsch and colour only matched by Bollywood's garish dance sets!
Visalam though is a little more circumspect, and the 14 rooms of this mansion have been delicately retouched to welcome you in this off beat place. It is run by the CGH Earth group of hotels.
Enjoy a hearty south Indian breakfast of string hoppers, with a spicy lentil soup and chutneys, with steamed rice cakes and a hot cup of Arabica to boot.
Visalam by CGH Earth Hotels
Brews with views
The Swiss geologist Toni Hagen was one of the first Europeans allowed into Nepal , and he walked all over the country setting a precedent for the 200,000 odd trekkers who now visit every year.
The Shangri-La Village Resort stands where he once stood in Pokhara, soaking in the best mountain views in the valley. There's also the Fishtail Lodge and the Tiger Mountain lodge for those seeking comfort, but there ain't nothing better than a trek past Birethanthi for an overnight bivouac on a ledge, only to wake up the next day to watch the sunrise on the majestic Annapurna range. Walking results in moments of happiness, and these are some experiences of a lifetime that money cannot buy.
A hot cuppa to wake you up, and then the famous Sherpa breakfast of hot porridge with honey and scrambled eggs on toast; all make this a true AHA moment.
Of monks & divine madmen
Guru Padmasambhava flew on the back of a Tiger and landed on a cliff which we all now know as the Tiger Nest ! Here, in a cave, he meditated for three years, three months, three days and if he is the tutelary deity of Bhutan, then Drukpa Kunley, (the divine madman) whose temple Chimi Lakhang lies just before Punakha, is equally credited as having brought Budhhism to Bhutan in 1499 and promoted it in a somewhat unorthodox way. So don't be surprised if you see flying male phalusses welcoming you at the entrance of Bhutanese homes!
A trek to Chimi Lakhang though, is a lot less strenuous. You can walk alongside the paddy fields and come up to the monastery in less than an hour, where a picnic breakfast awaits you. But, before that you must receive the blessings of the divine madman. Tiger's Nest is a little more challenging but you can always get half way up there on a pony.
At the Takstang Cafetaria, which is midway between you and Tigers Nest, enjoy the the regular cuppa or be adventurous and drink some Yak butter salted tea! That should give you the energy you need to take that leap of faith and receive the gurus blessings! Allow 4 - 5 hours from start to finish.
For the anecdote, the average Bhutanese consumes 2 Kg of red chilli every month! A typical breakfsat consists of rice, soya, butter tea and ezay chilli paste!
When in Paro, stay at the Zhiwaling Hotel.