New Delhi, India
February 24, 2007
We arrived at the hotel after a tiring Delhi-Chennai flight, followed by a three hour cab ride. Our room, Nellore, (named after a historic town in Southern India: Calicut, Seringapatam, and Masulipatam are some of the other rooms), was on the first floor. It was a comfortable room, not very large, but airy. Typically colonial shutters stretched down one side; the furniture, including a table, chairs, wardrobe, luggage rack, and TV cabinet (the latter cunningly disguised as a dresser!) were of warm, polished wood, with a lovely old-time feel to it. The twin beds were old-fashioned: very high, with painted tiles set into the headboards.
What really caught my fancy, however, was the bric-a-brac in the room. On the table stood a small wooden figure of a stout girl in a long dress, holding a tennis racquet. There were prints of Hindu deities, and above the TV was a set of framed advertisements for a beef extract - strangely enough consisting of cards painted with scenes of famous Indian monuments. All were inscribed in French.
The attached bathroom came with complimentary soaps, shampoo, moisturizer and more - all Neemrana brands and very good. And the room had all the fixings for tea and coffee, which was much appreciated.
The hotel proved eclectic in terms of food. Our stay coincided with a French food festival, but other than a good filet mignon à la sauce normande, it really wasn’t that great. But the desserts were good, and the brioches at breakfast were the best I’ve ever had. What did impress us, though, was the in-house restaurant, Carte Blanche. This is an endearing eatery, cosy and quiet, and it’s reputed to serve the best Creole in town. We tried the beef and coconut curry with steamed rice and green salad, and can definitely vouch for it.
Service at the hotel was erratic. The staff were mostly helpful and friendly, but tended to get a bit muddled. That could, of course, have been a result of the fact that the hotel’s directors were visiting, along with a famous dancer, Sonal Mansingh, who performed for the hotel’s guests. Her performance, followed by a rooftop dinner, was the highlight of our stay at the hotel.
All in all, this is a quiet and soothing place to stay. The courtyard, with its wrought iron chairs and bunches of orchids, is perfect for a relaxed breakfast. The food is fairly good - especially if you’re keen on Creole. And some of the best sights in town are within walking distance.
From journal Pondicherry: India à la Française