New Delhi, India
October 8, 2013
Although tariffs per night range from Rs 3000 per night for a single room to Rs 5500 per night for a suite, a suite with a verandah, or a ‘grand room’ with a verandah, we settled for a double room (with twin beds). Neemrana have a ‘Friends of Neemrana’ discount for us frequent residents of the chain’s property, plus we got a special ongoing discount because we visited in what was technically the off season.
Villa Pottipati lies surrounded by a tiny grove of trees and much greenery, so you need to keep a sharp eye out. The old-fashioned gateposts lead to a short crescent-shaped gravel drive, and to the verandah of the little villa. There’s a small gravelled yard on one side, where tables and chairs are laid out for tea or breakfast under the trees. There are old lamp posts, and quiet little verandahs with comfy cushioned cane sofas where you can curl up with a book. There’s also a swimming pool, and a very rudimentary kitchen that offers about a dozen rather boring main courses, including Indian and Western staples like palak paneer and fish in a mustard sauce. This isn’t a place to really ‘dine out’: with a menu that’s just a single page, it’s meant rather for the tired tourist who couldn’t be bothered to venture out to find a good restaurant.
I’d arrived at Villa Pottipati after having spent two days at the Crowne Plaza, so the relative sizes of the two rooms came as a bit of a surprise: the room at Villa Pottipati could have probably fitted into the (admittedly spacious) bathroom of my room at the Crowne Plaza. This was a fairly cramped room, though with the typical high ceiling of a colonial house. Two windows, with pretty blinds made of hand-woven cotton, looked out onto the yard, as perhaps at one time had a window and a small door, the former now boarded up and the latter converted into a handy little cupboard with shelves for extra pillows and blanket.
The two twin beds, both pretty narrow, had been pushed together. There was a luggage rack, a small wardrobe (though with rather inadequate hanging space when it came to anything that happened to be longer than 2 feet), a desk and chair, and two bedside tables. On a small table beside the wardrobe were tea and coffee fixings, and on the desk was a small TV (an odd inclusion, since Neemrana Hotels typically don’t keep TVs in rooms). There was free Wi-Fi in the room, too, which was very welcome.
The bathroom, like the room, was small but clean, tastefully decorated (machine-embroidered curtains, pale pink dado, white walls) and with Neemrana’s very own natural moisturizer, soap, shampoo, etc. Sadly, there was too little space here; the small clothes rack were totally covered by the two bath towels and two hand towels draped over them, and there was only other hook on which to hang any other clothing. Worse, the towels were less than a foot away from the toilet seat – not a very pleasant thing. Even shelf space for a toiletries bag or a shaving kit was both sparse and too inconveniently situated vis-à-vis the sink.
Another source of discomfort were the beds. They were rather narrow, and while the blankets did have a sheet underneath, they could certainly have done with a second sheet on top too – the sight of the blankets, with a few stains and stray hairs from a previous occupant didn’t appeal to us!
The small lobby (with traditional red oxide flooring) stocks lots of pamphlets and booklets about the Neemrana chain.
The good thing about Villa Pottipati is that it feels like you’re staying in a quiet, comfortable home: it doesn’t have the typically impersonal luxury of a five star hotel, and it doesn’t offer a range of restaurants, or fitness centres, business centres, and the like. But the staff are friendly and helpful (they gave us a very detailed map of Bangalore to help us in our sightseeing, and were competent when it came to asking whatever questions we had regarding sightseeing).
On the flip side, the charm can get a bit too laidback at times. For example, we’d hired a cab to pick us up and take around town. The cabbie, even though he’d been told the address, was having difficulty figuring out where the villa was, and phoned my husband to ask for directions. My husband (who, having never visited Bangalore before, knew zilch) went to search for a staffer at the villa – and ended up having to go right out of the hotel, though the kitchen and into the lane at the back before he could find anybody to help. The lobby was empty, the small dining hall was empty, even the tiny kitchen next to our room was pretty much empty.
Plus, of course, there was the somewhat suspect housekeeping when it came to the beds, and the general lack of space in our room. While this is by no means a foul place to stay (in fact, it does have a lovely historical charm to it, and is good and tranquil), it didn’t strike us as being one of the Neemrana’s best properties.
From journal Eating and Sleeping in Bangalore