With boutique shops, cool bars and unique restaurants Haus Khaz is fast getting a reputation as the Shoreditch / Williamsburg of Delhi. I went in April and it was definitely my favourite part of the city. I looked round all the monuments and historical areas of Delhi, of course I did, but it was the modern hipster town of Haus Khaz that excited me the most.
If you like your trip destinations a bit alternative, a bit different and generally cooler than where everyone else goes, you need to check out Haus Khaz when you’re in India.
The village vibe
After being exposed to crazy Delhi the day and night before, as soon as I arrived in Haus Khaz I felt instantly comforted. It’s a small area, but has everything you could need and want. It’s still the historical India you’ve travelled all that way to see, but the familiarity of the hipster bars for a 7-year Londoner like me, the green spaces and the bustling (but not crazy busy) streets made me happy. It’s small, but big, just like all the best villages are. I felt 100% safe in Haus Khaz.
There are loads of cafes here that look out onto the main streets – perfect for enjoying a cup of chai and watching the locals go about their day. I was in Haus Khaz on a Saturday night as everyone was having a few drinks to go out; perfect for checking out what the guys and girls like to wear, and to see how they act with each other. Pretty much my favourite thing to do while travelling.
Unlike some parts of India (such as Kerala, not the rest of Delhi) drinking is perfectly acceptable in Haus Khaz and judging by all the promotional signs, encouraged. This is modern India, remember? There were ladies’ nights, first drink free nights and buy one get one frees too. Unfortunately I had no one to go drinking with but if you did want to indulge the possibilities were endless. It might be more difficult to separate the India chav from the India hipster though, but I’m sure you’re up to the challenge.
The Haus Khaz complex houses Feroz Shah’s tomb, an ex king of Delhi who ruled from 1351-88. You can take guided heritage tours around the ruins, go and have a look for yourself, or enjoy from the comfort of one of the bars lining the historical area. I took both options B and C, and would’ve gone for A if I’d had more time. When I went down to have a look there were couples enjoying romantic strolls hand in hand, a few other tourists enraptured by the descriptive signs and, the highlight, a lot of girls, by themselves, doing weird duck faces and standing in impossible poses in front of the monuments for their selfie cameras. The sun was setting and it was bustling down there.
Hipsters love laptops, right? At The Social you can rent out a whole space for your work event, or even as an office, and claim a drinks and food budget in with the space rental. This is one of the best ideas I’ve ever seen. Correct me if you’ve seen it anywhere else but I haven’t. This may not be relevant to you now – but something to think about in the future when you’re running the world from your laptop, right? They also welcome solo laptop workers. While I was in there, there were quite a few others like me, head down and typing away. I assume they were building up their epic empire, but they could’ve just been on Facebook, who knows?
Walking around Haus Khaz you can’t help but notice the awesome street art. Some political, others just for decoration. Whole walls were filled top to bottom with art and graffiti. If there isn’t already some sort of street art tour here, there will be soon. Pound the streets and look out for the Mr Singh stencils, the bold ‘Some people are so poor, all they can afford is a pot of paint’ and the beautiful birds adorning the walls.
The shopping in Haus Khaz was unique and plentiful – so many cool little boutique shops in such a small area. Now I’m not one for going nuts in the shops but I couldn’t help but buy a few presents for my family and friends in Haus Khaz. There were dark and moody homewares shops filled with trunks, cushion covers and restored furniture. Then there were all the jewellery shops; I was drawn in like a magpie. In some boutiques the pieces had been handmade, while others were full of the glitzy bracelets, necklaces and earrings I’d seen on the markets. There were also clothes, electricals, galleries, kitchenwares and vintage stores to work your way around.
The shops in Haus Khaz are stacked on top of each other and you’ll need to brave the stairs and overhead walkways to find the best ones.
The best thing I ate in Haus Khaz was actually from the street food stall outside the Traveller’s Café (great coffee in there). I had a paneer Kathi roll for about 50p and it was an absolute taste sensation. It was a steamed wrap with squares of tandoori paneer and vegetables, all in a spicy sauce. I also tried veggie momos from there, which were so good I tried them again from another stall in Delhi a few days later and the taste and texture wasn’t even close. If you’re in Haus Khaz, you need to go here.
There are loads of cool looking places to eat in Haus Khaz – Smoke House Delhi, The Social, The Big Burp Theory – but in my three days my appetite was limited.
You really need to spend a good few days in Haus Khaz to get stuck into all the restaurants and bars to find your favourite. A lot of the buildings are four floors high and filled with food outlets. I barely made a dent.
How to get to Haus Khaz
Haus Khaz is only 30 minutes from the airport – you can get a taxi or a tuk tuk, depending on your luggage and your budget. I stayed at the awesome and beautiful Rose Hotel, but there are more budget options nearby you could try.
If you’re a bit nervous about India, or Delhi’s your first stop, I strongly recommend Haus Khaz as a slow introduction into what can be the overwhelming way of life in India.