The conjoined celestial motif, the drama lounge tag, and its location in the basement of Hyderabad's arguably swankiest hotel Taj Krishna
, does set high expectations. But, once inside after paying a cover charge of Rs. 1,000 per couple (fortunately redeemable against your bill, but they'd probably get away even otherwise), you do get bowled over by the obviously charming decor at Ahala. Lushly done with lounge-able sofas in raw silk, floating candles and rose petals in water-filled niches in the tables, and pan-Asian artifacts, the place exudes a certain confidence in its own abilities to deliver.
Although Ahala positions itself as a lounge, its comfortably laid back decor is about the only thing lounge-like about it - for, weekends find it in a state of mostly frenzied activity, and its catering to the city's fairer sex on Wednesdays and to Salsa enthusiasts on Fridays does nothing for serenity there on those days either. Besides, as far as Hyderabad is concerned, the bar, pub, lounge and resto-bar definitions blend seamlessly, and are often used indiscriminately.
Ahala, however, is quite the success in any or all of the above categories that you might wish to cast it into. Its mocktails starting at around Rs. 150 are innovative, the cocktails averaging Rs. 400 generous, and the food, starters between Rs. 400 to Rs. 600, an eclectic mix. And while their prices are what they are (Ahala does after all belong to the Taj Group, which is certainly not known for its bargain prices), the stuff itself doesn't disappoint. Neither do the music, mostly house, played by the DJs Ajay and Shashi, or the bartender Alex, who mixes a rather potent Long Island Iced Tea.
A watering hole for the wealthy, the corporate crowd, local expats and Tollywood stars, Ahala manages to keep everyone who comes in though its sybaritic portals, go back happy.