New Delhi, India
May 28, 2008
Ah, I thought. It was a little expensive—Rs 2,200 per night for a double room isn’t exactly cheap—but maybe it would be worth it. We were going to stay three nights in Shimla, and as the 2,200 room was available only for two nights, I upgraded to a Rs 5,300 room for the last night.
Having paid up that much, we’d expected Peterhoff to be at least as lovely as Kasauli’s Ros Common. The truth, therefore hit hard. Much harder, and below the belt too.
First of all, there was the fine print I hadn’t read. The original Peterhoff—the colonial hotel—had burnt down in 1981; the current structure is a new monstrosity built in 1991. Secondly, the day we checked in was also the day when a huge Hindu religious convention was being held at the Peterhoff. Hundreds of devotees thronged the hotel ground outside our room, singing loudly, clapping, giving speeches and generally creating enough noise to make it impossible to even think clearly.
Our room proved a further disaster. It was large, but everything from the carpet to the lighting was dingy and decrepit. The luggage rack had slats missing, and the paint had peeled down to the plaster in the vestibule. The furniture—sofa, table, desk with chair, TV cabinet, bedside tables and double bed—was worn and scarred, with dust settled into the grooves. The carpet was clearly patchwork and had stains, as did the bedspread. One of the bedside lamps didn’t have a bulb, and the lighting in the room was far from adequate. The bathroom was better, but not much. No bathtub, but buckets and mugs—and a shower. Clean towels and free soap, thankfully. The second room—which we shifted to after the first two nights—was larger, better lit and with more fancy carved furniture, all painted white. The bathroom had a bathtub too. Not luxurious, though.
The Peterhoff’s facilities are somewhat limited: central heating, laundry, banquet halls, a restaurant, and room service. The restaurant and room service had Indian, Chinese and Continental on the menu, but we stuck with Indian. The food was okay, nothing to write home about, but the service was appalling. The waiters—except for the more experienced ones, who were few and far between—were completely clueless about the menu and spent most of their time rushing around like headless chickens.
Final verdict? Awful place. Do not stay at the Peterhoff.
From journal Shimla: Stepping Back to the Days of the Raj