New Delhi, India
November 2, 2009
The hotel (let’s call it the JP Cosmos; the full name’s such a mouthful) is just off Cunningham Road, one of Bangalore’s main thoroughfares, crowded with swish malls like the Reliance TimeOut store, where my book launch event is being held—it’s a five-minute walk from the hotel. The hotel itself is smart, quiet, and geared to business travellers and their needs. The lobby is functional, uncluttered and understated in its decor. The receptionist checks me in and hands me an envelope containing a ‘personalised’ (actually mass) letter from the manager, welcoming me to the hotel and describing some of the facilities available. The letter and envelope have got my name, even my gender, wrong—but I’m too tired to do anything other than grimace. It’s not a big deal.
I’m escorted up to my room on the first floor, a non-smoking floor that also houses part of the hotel’s business facilities. My room is a delight to be in: it’s all muted cream and white, the bed covered with a pristine white duvet and huge fluffy pillows, the floor parquet and the furniture in dark wood. Very soothing after all the gilt and glitter one generally gets to see in Indian hotels. In the large wardrobe, there’s an iron and ironing board, along with a bathrobe and towelling slippers. The room also has a safe, TV, tables, chairs, a mini bar, and tea and coffee fixings. In the brochure on the writing table I discover the facilities on offer: currency exchange, doctor on call, car hire, baby sitter, room service, etc. There’s a coffee shop called Zodiac, which serves Western, Chinese, and Indian food—the menu reveals occasional lapses in spelling: gosht dum biryani (gosht in Hindi meaning ‘meat’) is spelt ghost dum biryani. There’s also a bar on the ground floor.
I’m feeling so tired, all I want is a hot shower and a nap. The bathroom proves compact, smart and clean. Beside the mirror and washbasin are long shelves with clean towels, soap, shampoo, moisturiser, sunscreen, etc. The shower cubicle is a little small, but has a fancy shower which includes a body jet. I’m too zonked to figure out the intricacies of getting all those showerheads scattered down the length of the panel to spew, so end up using the handheld shower, but that’s good enough.
I spend most of my time in the room sleeping—the bed’s very comfy, the pillows just the right height and softness. While I’m gone for the book launch function, turn-down service is provided: I return to find the bedclothes neatly turned back on one side, a chocolate placed beside the pillow, and a feedback form (alas, already filled by a previous guest!) next to it.
I couldn’t be bothered with going out of the hotel to eat, so I confine myself to meals at the coffee shop, Zodiac. The staff here is nice. Not very efficient, but sweet—they begin recognising me after my first meal here, so are especially friendly beyond that, though the amiability doesn’t extend to making sure my bill comes really fast! The decor is in keeping with the theme of the zodiac: the walls have large paintings representing signs of the zodiac, a motif that’s carried over into the linen, on which the symbols of the zodiac are embroidered. My favourite part of the decor is the lighting: the lampshades are large inverted ‘bowls’ of pale cloth: very muted and pretty.
The food, unfortunately, is indifferent. On the first day, I order a lamb mince pie. This is something like a shepherd’s pie: cooked minced lamb topped off with mashed potatoes. The lamb has a surfeit of tomato (not something I’m mad about), and the potato’s too dry, but the garlic bread on the side is passable. For another meal, I order mulligatawny—a thick soup of puréed lentils, with a garnish of rice and a wedge of lime on the side. It’s filling, so much that I’m hardly able to do justice to the meen moilee that follows. This is a very light fish curry, bite-sized pieces of fish cooked in a pale yellow sauce of coconut milk, curry leaves and mustard seeds, served with steamed rice. Along with a refreshing glass of freshly squeezed sugarcane juice, it’s a satisfying meal, even if not great.
The next morning, I go down to Zodiac for the buffet breakfast (included in the tariff of Rs 6,000). The buffet is adequate: fruit, cereals, juices, breads, eggs, cold meat, a few Indian breakfast dishes, tea and coffee.
Verdict: A hotel worth staying in. It’s well located, and the rooms are very comfortable and clean. They could pay more attention to detail (the already-filled feedback form? The incorrectly addressed letter?) and the food could have been better, but still. I’d definitely stay here again.
From journal India on the Fly: On Book Tour