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June 18, 2008
Townsville, Queensland, Australia
August 27, 2005
This is regarded by many as the premier hotel in Dhaka. The five-star property has 304 air-conditioned rooms and suites. All rooms have IDD telephone facility, voicemail, Internet service, satellite TV, minibar, electronic safe, full bath tub and shower, bath robe, slippers, hair dryer, daily newspaper, and 24-hour room service. In short, it’s just what you would expect from any five-star hotel.
What is different to most Western five-star hotels is the level of staff. There are people everywhere. There are a team of people to run a security mirror under your car as you approach the building, a bellboy to open your car door, security staff to run you through the scanner at the front door, upwards of half a dozen staff at the front desk, someone to open every hotel door and to instantly offer you a drink when you sit in the lobby, and so on. It may sound great, but after awhile, it is all a bit too much. It would be nice to be able to do something by yourself.
The hotel has three restaurants. The cheapest is the Café Bazaar, which offers buffet breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. Cheap is relative. Dinner one evening cost US$15, plus drinks, which is quite acceptable on an international scale. I had an equally good meal, however, the next night outside the hotel for US$7 and a Thai buffet later in my stay for US$5. The Café Bazaar buffet is extensive and varied. The food is the so-called "international cuisine," which in my book reads, "an Asian-Western mix without the herbs and spices that make Asian food so interesting and tasty." I enjoyed the soup and the range of cakes, because they were what they were supposed to be.
The other two restaurants were beyond my price range and had little appeal when dining alone. Ciao is an Italian restaurant that is only open for dinner, while Jharna is the hotel’s signature restaurant and advertises itself as elegant dining in a fountain setting.
One of the nice features of the hotel is the 25m swimming pool. Unfortunately, during the day, it is often crowded by locals who pay around US$12 to use the facility. Each family seems to bring several children, and while there is a separate children’s pool, no one wants to use it. I found that around 6:30pm was the time if you actually wanted to swim. Other recreation facilities are a gymnasium, sauna, massage, tennis court, squash court, and steam bath.
For those who don’t want to venture outside and see the real Dhaka, there is a shopping complex selling souvenirs and handicrafts, porcelain, jewelry, art, books, and much more. There are banks, travel agencies, an airline office, a beauty and barber salon, and photo shop. More adventurous travelers will walk a half-kilometer down the road to the largest shopping centre in Dhaka for prices half those in the hotel.
From journal Bedding Down in Bangladesh