Where is it? In Hyderabad's Banjara Hills, one of India's most expensive zip codes: probably the greatest indicator of its prosperity is not so much the convoys of SUVs and suchlike but the fact that the dogs here are actually walked, on leads. The Radisson Blu stands at the end of a residential cul-de-sac, embracing a downright bold, contemporary architectural vocabulary. It is markedly different from the assortment of apartment houses that line the approach.
Radisson Blu sounds like a brand name. Well, yes, it is, but this hotel is owned by septuagenarian engineering tycoon Bhupinder Singh ("BS") Sahney and his wife, Brijween. In fact, they used to live on the site but, having decided they wanted to go into the hospitality business, they demolished their home and the monolith it stood on to make way for the hotel. They now occupy a suite on the premises, sallying out to hotfoot it on the dance floor of Cuban-themed nightclub Movida and sample the single malts lined up shoulder to shoulder in Bar 41. Their other ruling passion is art and the hotel is bedecked with pieces as varied as a painting by Laxma Goud (famed for his rural exoticism) and Victorian aquatints of English public-school cricket matches. Given the owners' charismatic input, this is not so much a regular chain hotel as a five-star bed and breakfast augmented by a veritable orchestra of bells and whistles.
Tell us more about this five-star B&B. The lobby (pictured top) rises to the entire height of the building, so there's a definite sense of drama on entering. And while this is an undeniably modern hotel, there are Indian touches, such as a shrine decorated with coloured rice behind the reception desk. The outdoor pool is popular with "ladies who lunch whose children swim" and there's a gym, as well as a spa, which, naturally, is big on Indian treatments. The art gallery, Ginger Lily, is filled with original and fun pieces, so is a good spot for some souvenir shopping.
And what about the rooms? Plenty of wood, plenty of silk and plenty of room to manoeuvre - it's a clean and comfortable set-up in all 155 rooms and suites (pictured top), many of which (call it people-watching, call it being nosy) overlook that fabulous lobby.
What's the food like? The Thai red curry at Holy Basil, the pan-Asian restaurant, deserves a shout-out. There's a lot of southern Indian dishes at Chili, the terrace of which is an added bonus if the weather is playing ball. Drop by Dilmah T Bar for a cuppa, or even a mocktail or cocktail. And there's a solid range of tapas at Movida. So, pretty much all the bases covered.
We're refreshed and replete; what's next? Stand by for a tale of two cities. Hyderabad, once ruled by the legendary nizams, the last of whom was, in the 1930s, the richest man in the world by a very long chalk, is one of India's hi-tech hubs, with a very smart airport and motorways to match. Turn off that motorway, though, and you plunge into a very lo-tech, though not uninteresting, chaos of streets and pavements jammed with vehicles, people and a variety of animals. Laad Bazaar is ground zero for bangles while the nizams' Chowmahalla Palace (dating from the 18th century and with a stable of classic cars) is as good an indicator as any of how life was lived if your gold and jewellery collection was worth £500 million.
What's the bottom line? Rooms start from US$110 per night.
Visit www.radissonblu.com/hotel-hyderabad for more information.