Raise your hand if you have ever dreamt of spending a night at the home of Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan and his interior designer wife Gauri Khan’s palatial home in India for free?
That dream might just become a reality on Valentine’s Day 2021 as Gauri offers people a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend two nights at their home in Delhi, the city where she and her famous husband grew up as a loved-up pair and found their fairy tale ending.
They have joined hands with accommodation provider Airbnb for a contest. Fans need to share what an ‘Open Arms Welcome’ means to them by November 30. The most creative entry will stand a chance to stay at the home in South Delhi on February 13 and 14.
For those in the dark, Shah Rukh — dubbed as the King of romance — has popularised his open arms pose as a sure-shot romantic move in all his iconic blockbusters.
“This home is a reflection of our journey, as a couple and a family, and is filled with personal keepsakes from our life over the last three decades,” said Gauri in an exclusive interview over email with Gulf News.
The lucky couple, who gets picked based on their creativity, will also get a peek at personal memorabilia, including a wall of memories that Gauri has painstakingly assembled.
Excerpts from our exclusive interview with Gauri as she walks us through this initiative …
What prompted you to open your home in Delhi to guests?
Our family loves hosting people at home and we feel that it is truly the best way to welcome and bond with loved ones. In fact, whenever we host people I personally look into every aspect of their stay and ensure that our guests’ feel [like they belong]. One of the central aspects of staying at an Airbnb that has always fascinated me is the role that the hosts play. They add a touch of warmth to one’s entire travel and stay experience, and that’s why I believe their role is so critical. The idea to open our Delhi home came after a trip to LA with the entire family — we had stayed at an Airbnb and had a fantastic experience. It was then that we decided that we want to welcome people into our home too and give them a memorable experience as hosts.
How did you go about refurbishing your home to suit the needs of guests?
The home holds a special place in our hearts, and it reflects our journey together — first of Shah Rukh and mine as a couple, and then as a family. The home has a lot of space — whether it’s the grand foyer as you enter or the lush garden which opens from the living room. When it came to refurbishing the home, I wanted to ensure that no matter where part of the house our guests are in, they feel a sense of warmth and comfort. Hence, each element of the home has been designed keeping that in mind. The colour blocked walls are adorned with art pieces; the big windows ensure natural light in the house; knick-knacks that we have picked up during our travels across the world are placed across the home to bring alive that feeling of a warm and comfortable home. I wanted guests to feel completely ‘at home’ in our little haven. This home is extremely close to Shah Rukh and I, and I would love for another couple to experience the love and warmth that it holds.
How involved were you in the preparation of the house for your guests? Can you run me through some of your favourite nooks and corners of the home?
Each element of the redesigned home has been hand-picked by me. The home is a reflection of our journey, as a couple and a family, and is filled with personal keepsakes from our life over the last three decades.
I like to think of the home as an oasis of peace in the midst of the bustling capital city. The home is replete with richly textured walls, bold colours, exquisite tapestries, and lots of natural light. But the main source of inspiration for me while designing the home was my family, and the memories we have built together.
While the entire home is special to me, there are two corners which stand out for our family. The first is what I like to call the ‘nostalgia wall’ in Shah Rukh’s and my bedroom. It is a selection of things which hold significance to us as a family. It includes Aryan’s first badminton racket; Suhana’s favourite make-up brushes and butterflies she has collected over the years; AbRam’s first birthday gift, which is an exquisite silver mirror and comb. Even an art piece that Shah Rukh bought from his early travels, that is emblematic of his love for pizza, is on the wall.
The second is a wall adorned with handmade cards that Shah Rukh and I exchanged during our early courtship period.
This home that you are going to list seems to have an interesting back story. Can you let us in on it?
Delhi holds a special place in our hearts and will always be home for us. It is the city where our roots are — both Shah Rukh and I grew up here and also spent our school and college lives. The neighbourhood where the home is is the same where we grew up, met and spent a lot of our courtship days together and my family still continues to live there.
Even now we continue to stay at the home whenever we visit the city. Whenever we stay here we like to relax and spend family quality time playing board games and watch movies.
The picture walls have my heart. But how difficult was it to pick and choose those images that made it to the wall. You may have thousands of options and fond memories to choose from?
Each photo is symbolic of a different time in our lives. There is one of Shah Rukh in his signature open arms pose while another one shows him and Aryan from the time they used to practice boxing together. Another one of my favourite photos that found its way to the wall is one of Shah Rukh and AbRam taken shortly after he was born.
It was extremely difficult to choose from three decades’ worth of memories for the photo wall. At the same time, the process was a lot of fun because I spent a lot of time revisiting and reliving early memories looking through hundreds of pictures — from the time Shah Rukh and I had just started dating to when my kids were born and even to when they grew up and went to college.
The interior designer in me had to make sure out of all our memories the ones I picked to put on the wall were aesthetically pleasing as well as did justice to each individuals personality in our family.
What’s the vibe and feel that you want your guests to experience and how can one opt for this stay experience?
The essence of this home for me is the love and bond that my family shares. This home is the embodiment of our journey and it celebrates the little moments of love and laughter. As a host, I hope my guests will be able to feel the warmth of those memories and feel the love that this home has fostered all these years.
What according to you is a perfect home and why?
For me, a perfect home is a place that embodies love and warmth. It reflects the values and memories that a family shares together in these four walls. How else do you differentiate a home from any other house or building? It is the inhabitants that make the place special, that’s what makes a house a home — the love, laughter, countless stories, and memories.
You are an interior designer who transforms homes to havens. What was the most challenging part about designing this home in Delhi?
I have had the opportunity to design homes for personalities across the world. But this project was very different for me because I was doing up my own home — taking inspiration from the love and bond I share with my family, and the memories we have built over these years. Professionally, I have always gone above and beyond to ensure that my clients are happy at the end of the project, but this was a unique experience for me personally. I was so emotionally vested in this project. I am so lucky to have the loving family that I do, and I just wanted to ensure that I was able to display that love and warmth when I was redesigning this home.
Which is the kookiest corner in your Delhi home and do you all have any personalised stationary/autographs/notes from Mr and Mrs Khan waiting for your beloved guests?
According to me, the ‘kookiest’ part of the house would be our entrance foyer. There is a framed picture of Shah Rukh in his signature open arms pose to welcome everyone who visits our home.
I have personally curated the itinerary for our Airbnb guest. They will be treated to a special home cooked meal which has all of our family’s favourite foods, a movie marathon session of watching Shah Rukh’s favourite films, and souvenirs as keepsakes, to fondly remember and cherish their time in our home.
You and Shah Rukh also own a mansion in Dubai at the Palm Jumeirah. Have you ever considered opening that home to Airbnb?
Welcoming people into our Delhi home is a first for us and it has been a very exciting journey so far. If the opportunity comes up, we might explore hosting at our Dubai home too. I strongly believe in the philosophy of ‘never say never!’
Airbnb has listed other Hollywood celebrity homes belonging to Jimi Hendrix, Julie Andrews et al for rent. Would you ever stay in such homes during your own holiday/trips abroad?
Absolutely! I am fascinated by the concept of Airbnb and would love to experience the hospitality of these global celebrities on my future trips abroad.
Don’t miss it!
Put your thinking hats on and tell Gauri Khan about what ‘Open Arms Welcome’ mean to you. The winner will get a chance to stay at their mansion in South Delhi on Valentine’s Day next year. The last date of entry is November 30. Log on to airbnb.com/d/homewithopenarms. The contest is open to Indian passport holders.