on May 16, 2013
For our weekend in Mangalore we chose the Goldfinch Hotel in the city centre. It had been a tricky business to find a place since we really didn’t know anything about the city, where would be good or where we should avoid. After getting some suggestions from my friend, I identified an area that seemed to be good. Goldfinch was one of the more expensive hotels on my short list but by the time we would get to Mangalore I thought we’d deserve a bit of a treat. I booked a room for two nights through a booking site and then I emailed the hotel to warn them we’d be arriving really early.Our check in was efficient but not particularly warm or friendly. I don’t think the night manager was used to getting too many people rolling in at half past five in the morning. I think we were not only the earliest arrivals but were probably the only Europeans in the place too. As happens in all India hotels, we had to hand over our passports which were run through the photocopier whilst I filled in all the required paperwork in exchange for our room key. It was still dark when we headed up to the fifth floor to find our home for the weekend. The hotel sits on top of a small shopping arcade with the reception on the ground floor but all the bedrooms several floors higher. The lower floors are identified with letters and the residential floors with numbers 3 to 8. I got a giggle fit when we spotted that the letters for the floors spelled out ‘FECAL’ – what were they thinking?When the term ‘boutique’ hotel was first introduced, I believe it was intended to identify small stylish hotels with a certain sense of style. Since then it’s a term that’s widely used and abused. The Goldfinch website says it’s a boutique hotel but for me it’s got rather a lot of rooms for that, although it is – especially by Indian terms – pretty stylish. It’s also a bit of a bargain. Our room was less than £50 a night and was of a standard that surprised us both. The room was large and stylish with a dark wood floor and lighter wood furniture. Our twin beds – not what we asked for but you don’t argue at that time of the morning – had really thick and very comfortable mattresses. Regular India visitors will be used to the standard hard beds and we were surprised to get such luxury. The beds came with duvets which weren’t really up to the job of fighting off the chilly air conditioning but we snuggled under the padded silk bedspreads when it got too cold. There was a comfy chair by the window from which we could look out over the city. A long narrow desk was placed against one wall. I appreciated the bag stand – I’m a big bag stand fan – which was big enough for not just one but both of our bags. Other facilities included a mini-bar, a tray with a kettle and tea and coffee. For those who like to lock up their valuables, there was a safe in the wardrobe but we didn’t use it. My husband settled down with the television control and surfed through all the channels, many of which were in English. I mentioned already that the air-con was a little fierce. No doubt you’re thinking "Just turn it down". We tried, honestly we did but we couldn’t get it to switch off. Technology in the bathroom impressed us rather more. We had an enormous double sized shower cubicle and the hot water never ran out. There was none of the usual Indian hotel games of trying to remember when the hot water is available, trying to get your shower when it’s warm enough and not leaving it until everyone else in the hotel has gobbled up all the heat. Getting an actual shower cubicle rather than just a shower head that sprays all over the room was a real treat. The towels were not exactly luxurious but they were spotlessly clean. The vanity unit was a ‘bench and bowl’ set up and the surround was so big that we had plenty of space for all our toiletries. How many light switches does a hotel room need? I’m guessing you’d not expect that in order to turn all of the lights in the room off, we had to hit eight different switches. You might suppose with that much lighting that we would be able to see everything but in the bathroom, despite all those different lights, it would still be difficult for a man to shave or a woman to put on make-up because the lighting was all style and not much function. The bedside lights were so dim that I’m really not sure what they were supposed to be for and I struggled to even FIND my book, let alone read it. The Goldfinch has a really nice hotel on the top floor which offers some amazing views over the city. At various times in our stay we ate breakfast, lunch and dinner and we really didn’t have a bad meal during that time. The restaurant is popular with locals as well as guests and in the evening it can get very busy. To keep the service quick, they offer a lunch time buffet which was around £4.50 a head on Saturday and it offered a broad variety of dishes. The Sunday buffet is a little more expensive but still very reasonable. Breakfast offers some really bizarre options. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven when I discovered hot gulab jamun (my favourite Indian pudding) on the breakfast buffet alongside some scary hot south Indian curries. For the less adventurous there’s bread and cereals and a man with a frying pan just waiting to whip you up an omelette or a fried egg. Dinner on our final evening cost £12 for the two of us for two starters and two mains as well as a beer each. Bargain!The hotel had some facilities we didn’t try including a salon/spa, a business centre and a so-called sports bar and a travel desk. The cost of hiring a car was way above what we were willing to spend and we had a very cheap (if not very luxurious) time buzzing around Mangalore in auto rickshaws for a tiny fraction of the cost. We did however use the hotel’s car to get to the railway station as we couldn’t be bothered to try to stand on a street corner and just hope for a taxi to come along. We’d been travelling for about a week so we took advantage of the hotel laundry’s same day service – see, there’s a benefit in arriving so early in the day. Wi fi was reliable and supplied free of charge. If you find yourself in Mangalore and you want an international standard hotel with beautiful rooms and a really good restaurant, I would certainly recommend the Goldfinch.
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