There is a studious, Zen-like quality to Delhi's sleekest resort hotel. Amid one of the most bustling, noisy and colourful cities in the world, it is a haven of tranquillity and muted tones. Guests wander its shaded, colonnaded walkways past illuminated waterfalls, pebbled pools and green lawns into high-ceilinged rooms where staff glide silently by.
The decor is masculine, minimalist and contemporary: limestone walls, cool taupe floors and polished dark mahogany panels with the odd nod to the city's Mughal heritage. Only a sudden bright orange flash of marigold flowers, the intricate jali screens, hand-made olive-green rugs and the occasional goddess or elephant statue offers a hint that this is not New York but New Delhi. This new, nine-storey hotel is aimed at heads of industry and luxury travellers who are weary of the opulent Raj theme of many of the city's best hotels and are seeking something more akin to India's future than its past.
It has already built a reputation among well-heeled locals who come to enjoy the delights of a cellar that recently earned it a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence, smoke Havanas in its cigar lounge or be pampered in a serene spa where rose petals float in baths set in bamboo-surrounded suites. The baffling array of treatments extends from an intriguing "beautification" involving chocolate wax or an eight-hour solah shringar, which mimics a bride's pre-wedding adornment ritual.
The restaurants, too, have a following, whether for the fine dining in Aman's elegant interpretation of a tapas bar or at the main Indian/South-east Asian restaurant. Alternatively, Chef Naoki offers a fusion of Japanese and French, with such dishes as foie gras poire with sweet potato purée and apple sauce (R500/£7) or seared yellowtail with fried taro and walnut sauce (R600/£8.40).
For guests who want an "authentic" experience without straying too far from pampering, the Aman has acquired undoubtedly the most luxurious auto-rickshaw in New Delhi – a souped-up version of the ubiquitous three-wheelers, which costs Rs1,200 (£16.80) for two hours. It is, they claim, the only one in India with a CD player and, bearing in mind Delhi's high-spirited drivers, seat-belts. Guests may also buckle up for a guided tour in the hotel's beautiful silver Ambassador car, with its leather and wood interior.
Perhaps the ultimate indulgence is the service itself. The staff, in uniforms that put many of their guests to shame, are studiously attentive, whether it is the personal butler who appears almost instantly outside your door at the touch of two phone buttons, or is already waiting with cold towels and drinks when you return from a hot day out.
The hotel is a few miles south-east of Connaught Circle, close by Delhi golf course and a stroll away from the Lodhi Gardens, where locals meditate or perform yoga. Nearby is a precursor to the Taj Mahal –the Mughal-era Humayun's Tomb. The Aman is set in a posh residential area of tree-lined avenues near the embassy district, and overlooks the golf course on one side and the rather less attractive Commonwealth Games stadium car park on the other.
Attention to elegance is a byword at the Aman, from the bead bracelet to be hung on your room door handle instead of a "do not disturb" sign, to the glass perfume bottle that turns out to be a mosquito spray.
Whether you have an airy room or spacious suite, each has a private plunge pool big enough for a party of 12, and a shaded terrace with soft loungers. Those fortunate enough to afford a larger suite get a full-size swimming pool. Room decor includes hand-made rugs, dark timber panels and khareda stone floors, with trays of Indian sweets, dried fruit and nut chikki in small hessian bags beside the giant cushioned beds. While as minimalist as the rest of the hotel, the dark wood walls and rich carpets save them from being too barren or cold. From my enormous bathroom, floor-to-ceiling windows offered a panoramic view of Delhi at sunrise or sunset, and the air was filled with exotic scents from brass bowls and glass bottles containing lime sea salts, cedar, jasmine and rose petal potions.
Aman New Delhi, Lodhi Road, New Delhi, India (00 9111 4363 3333; amanresorts.com)
Double rooms start at US$720 (£480), room only.Reuse content