New Delhi, India
June 13, 2011
The Corbett Hideaway is part of the Leisure Hotels chain. It’s a lovely place, spread out over 10 acres of land beside the Kosi river. Scattered across those 10 acres are more than 50 cottages. Our cottage lay down a gravel path near the edge of the Corbett Hideaway’s fence. It was surrounded by spreading mango trees (there are about 175 of them in the Corbett Hideaway), stands of bamboo, frangipani, jackfruit, and a variety of shrubs and bushes – especially hibiscus, oleander and jasmine. Where you have that much greenery, you’re bound to see lots of birds too. And we did: red-whiskered bulbuls, red-vented bulbuls, purple sunbirds, tailorbirds, and gorgeously decorative flycatchers.
Our cottage consisted of a largish room with an attached bathroom. The room, with its huge windows, was comfy and came with most of the amenities one would expect: a double bed, desk, table, chairs and coffee table, wardrobe (with a safe), tea and coffee fixings, and complimentary cookies and fruit. There were two bottles of water too, but these turned out to not be mineral water, so we ended up having to order mineral water from room service. The beds were good and comfortable, with clean crisp sheets and pillows that were just right.
What came as a disappointment was the bathroom. Other than that it looked shoddy (stains on the mirror, polish wearing off the wood, a pane in the window broken), there was the unforgiveable fact that we were checked into a cottage whose bathroom hadn’t been cleaned. It was swimming in water, and there were muddy footprints all across the floor. While we went to have lunch, the bathroom was cleaned – but when we returned, it still didn’t have a single towel. The towels – two bath towels, but no hand or face towels – came only after we’d complained. It was only the next day that we got a full complement of bath linen.
Also in the precincts of the Corbett Hideaway are a swimming pool, a pool table, a small spa, and a table tennis table. Wi-Fi is available 24 hours a day; you pay Rs 110 for an hour, which must be used at one go; or Rs 210 for 2 hours, which can be used over a period of 24 hours. Elephant safaris, jeep, bird walks and nature walks safaris can be booked through the naturalist/wildlife coordinator whose office is opposite the reception counter.
The Corbett Hideaway offers a bar (called the Tusker Bar; it’s near the swimming pool), an open-air grill room called Jim’s Grill (which offers mainly rough-and-ready ‘Western’ food like fried chicken or French fries) and the dining room, Gurney House (named after Jim Corbett’s house in Nainital). Although Gurney House does have an à la carte menu, this is where most people dine – off the buffet, since the Corbett Hideaway offers 2-night packages that include all meals (we paid Rs 10,500 for the package). The buffet is predominantly Indian, though there are some Western and/or Chinese dishes too – both pretty indifferent. The Indian food too tended to be erratic; some meals we had here were fantastic, others were either too spicy or too greasy, or both. The desserts – largely ‘traditional’ English desserts like cabinet pudding, diplomat pudding and bread pudding – were the same: good at some meals, pretty awful at others.
Though the food’s so-so and Housekeeping definitely need to pull up their socks, I’d probably stay at the Corbett Hideaway again. Just for the ambience, which is lovely; for the birds, the view across the river, and the fact that it, even with its flaws, is probably the best place to stay in around here.
From journal Deep in the Jungle: Corbett National Park