New Delhi, India
November 2, 2009
The Marine Plaza is part of the Sarovar Group of hotels. This is the first time I’m staying in one of their hotels, and when I enter, it’s to find a place that’s clean and sparkling—with perhaps a bit too much sparkle. The rooms are arranged around a central square well that soars up (not very high) to a skylight that lets in lots of natural light. The lobby is all in shades of muted green: the sofas are a pale pistachio colour, and the flower arrangement in the middle of the lobby is dominated by green orchids. The general theme of the decor is ostentation: plaster mouldings, frosted glass, glass lifts, gilt.
I am escorted up to my room by a bell boy and told that my luggage will be delivered shortly. My room’s a suite—a small drawing room, with a bedroom beyond. Like the public areas, the suite is clean, comfortable, but fussy. It has none of the subdued style I’d seen at The Park in Kolkata. After a while I realise what’s wrong with it: everything is patterned, and the patterns don’t match. The frosted glass door leading into the suite has a pattern; the upholstery and the woodwork and the lampshades in the bathroom... all have designs, some geometrical, some stylised traditional, some floral. The drawing room has a coffee table, writing table and chair, and a sofa—the latter covered in a muted blue shiny fabric that’s trying to be elegant but failing miserably. The carpet is also in shades of blue (and pale yellow and green), covered over with a pattern of cartoon fish and flowers. Whoever thought up this decor needs to be sacked, pronto.
The theme is blue, I realise when I enter the bedroom: the large bed (very comfy, I later discover) is all fluffy pillows and crisp white sheets, but with a deep blue runner (strangely enough with a design of yellow pineapples woven into it) along the bottom. To match, there are blue and red cushions on the bed too—one of the cushions is covered with squiggles in ballpoint pen.
The room has a TV, safe, mini bar, chairs and a coffee table, and a tray with tea and coffee fixings. The bathroom, which is small and has an awful shower curtain made of faux lace (plastic?), has some unusual amenities. Along with the usual hair dryer and the tiny bottles of shampoo, conditioner, moisturiser, etc, there is a jar of cotton balls and a jar of detergent. I’ve seen hotels where they discourage guests from washing clothes in their bathrooms, but the Marine Plaza obviously isn’t one of them.
Not that the hotel doesn’t offer laundry services; it does. It also has banqueting facilities, a business centre, a fitness centre, a pool, and four eateries: a pub called Geoffrey’s; a 24-hour restaurant named Bayview; a Chinese restaurant (Oriental Blossom) and a pastry shop, Sin. They also have room service, a facility that I avail of since I’m too tired and sleepy after my early morning flight to go out for lunch. My order—grilled pomfret with citrus sauce—is delivered within 15 minutes of my placing it. The grilled fish is fresh and delicious, as are the French fries and the sautéed carrots and baby corn served with it. The cauliflower is undercooked and too tough to cut with a dinner knife, and the citrus sauce isn’t very citrusy. A simple meal, not great but adequate enough—and I love the tiny sesame-encrusted bread rolls served alongside: very cute!
Would I stay at the Marine Plaza again? Perhaps. It’s not recommended if you’re an aesthete who gets the hives at the very sight of something too ostentatious to be beautiful. But it’s comfortable, good value for money, and the location is superb. But yes, be warned: the wardrobes are a mess. Mine was too shallow to allow more than one or two garments to be hung, and there was an unnecessary shelf across the middle of the wardrobe, which meant that one couldn’t hang anything longer than a shirt. In a land where a lot of people—especially women—wear long, flowing clothes, this is really rather dumb.
From journal India on the Fly: On Book Tour