When you arrive at the place, you can be forgiven for being impressed with the exterior and the well-kept lawns. Undoubtedly, the exterior is good, and the lawns are beautifully landscaped and well maintained. Which is about the only good thing which I have to say about the place. Everything else, right from the cleanliness and maintenance to service standards leaves much to be desired.
We had booked two rooms for two nights from a well-known online booking site and undoubtedly we got what we considered to be a great bargain, considering that it was the Mapple brand. Sadly, we were mistaken, as it turned out later.
We arrived at the hotel at about 1230 in the afternoon and drove up to the main porch. No one was there to greet any arriving guests. Normally, one would expect that at least a bell-boy would come out upon seeing an arriving vehicle, but no, no one turned up. We honked to draw attention, but still no one turned up. I walked into the lobby and there were two staff at the reception, who would definitely have seen us driving up, but did not bother to send anyone out. We had to ask them to send a bell-boy for the luggage.
We were offered welcome drinks a sherbet of some local flower, which was a too sweet. The check-in did not take much time though. We had initially booked two double rooms for 4 persons, but had one more person join us at the last minute. We had got in touch with the hotels Delhi sales office through a known agent to book an extra bed, and they had agreed to arrange it, and quoted us a rate as well, which we were supposed to pay directly at the hotel. When we checked in we informed them about the same, and they told us that an extra bed would be arranged in the evening. We were then shown up to our rooms on the first floor.
A bit about the hotel. After the impressive exterior, we encountered an average lobby with a reception counter and sofas that were poorly maintained. The building itself is circular, with rooms built in a circle. The corridor outside the rooms overlooks into what could have been a beautiful atrium, but is ruined by a circular swimming pool built on the ground level in the atrium, with all floors looking down at it. When we reached the first floor where we had been allotted the rooms, cleaning was in progress in some of the adjoining rooms and we were shocked to find dirty towels and linen thrown casually outside the rooms, presumably to be collected later.
The swimming pool gave us quite a shock, as it had murky water and did not appear to have been cleaned for quite some time. Normally, if the pool is clean, one can see the bottom, but in this case we could barely make out the design on the pool floor. We didnt go anywhere near it.
The room itself was average. Nothing fancy, but not too bad either. However, it was obvious that they were seriously lacking in the maintenance department because the state of disrepair of the furniture was pretty obvious. The size of the room was decent, though, as was the size of the attached balcony outside. However, the bathroom left much to be desired. It was small and dingy, with poor lighting. The toilet seat was tucked away in a small cubicle like space behind the door. The wash basin was cracked. The toiletries provided were sub-standard and the bottles of shampoo etc were only half filled. The poor cleaning of the bathroom was pretty obvious, with dirt lines clearly visible between the tiles. There was no shower cubicle just a small shower area. What was really shocking was the fact that the towels kept on the rack were damp enough to be wet ! It seemed that they had just folded used towels and put them back on the rack. There was also a used towel lying on the floor of the balcony outside. I had to go back to the reception and insist on clean, dry towels to be provided, which was done later in the day.
The best part about the room is the balcony, which makes for a nice sit-out, and affords excellent views of the hills as well as the lake, which is a little distance away. Mornings and evenings in the balcony were very pleasant.
Among the room amenities, there is a tea-cofee maker. However, they are pretty stingy with the supplies. There were precisely two tea bags, and two sachets of coffee with a matching number of powdered milk sachets and sugar sachets. No sugar-free sweetener. The replenishments were also given accordingly. Per day, two small bottles of water were also provided. The water bottles you will see in the picture were our own.
The hotel is supposed to have free wi-fi, but throughout our stay we could not get it to work. Although the devices connected to the network, it just did not work. The reason for this became clear on the second day, when, while trying to connect, the browser window opened with the BSNL homepage, which was flashing a warning that their high speed internet quota had been exhausted and they needed to renew it. Be warned that data connectivity in the vicinity is otherwise quite poor.
In the morning, we had a problem getting hot water. Try as we might, we just could not coax any hot water out of the tap, so I called up the reception and they sent a housekeeping staff. It turns out that each bathroom has a concealed geyser that one is supposed to switch on. The housekeeping staff switched it on for us and was surprised that we were not informed about it at check-in. My answer to him was that I wouldnt have had to call him if we had been briefed about it, or if there had been any signage in the bathroom to draw our attention to it.
The lack of maintenance, cutting of corners, and shoddy patchwork was visible everywhere, starting from the staircase the first step itself was repaired with several pieces. Many walls in the hotel were full of damp patches. The entrance door to our room seemed to have had its lock replaced and even that was done by applying patches of wood of s different colour, with no attempt to even polish it to match the colour of the door. The chair in the room was also repaired in the joints using metal strips, and pieces of mismatched wood. The sofas in the reception were torn at the seams, and looked as if they had never been cleaned.
We left the hotel for sightseeing shortly after checking in, and did not dine there. When we returned in the evening, we inquired about their dinner buffet, and were quoted a price of Rs 600 per person. We decided not to dine there and instead walked across to Machan restaurant nearby, and paid only a fraction of that for an excellent dinner.
Our tariff included breakfast and next morning, we went to the restaurant. Although we had our breakfast in the restaurant on both days, we were disappointed with their breakfast buffet. They have only one type of cereal, and a very limited selection of cut fruit. The other items in the buffet included porridge, vermicelli upma on one day and poha on the other, ready omelets (no live egg counter), poori bhaji on one day and chana bhatoora on another. On the first day, the pooris were very oily, and the bhaji lacked salt and had excess of chillies. On the next day, the chana was passable but the bhatooras again were very oily. On the second day they had vadas, which were again very oily and sambhar did not taste like sambhar at all. On both days, the omelet was passable so we stuck to that with toast. Readymade tea and coffee is available, but we found that it was too milky with sugar already added to it, so if you prefer your tea strong and without sugar, you need to order it separately.
We did order tea on two occasions in our room, which was much better, because we had specified at the time of placing the order how we wanted it, and they did a decent job of it.
The restaurant itself, however, lacks cleanliness, especially if you happen to look down below the tables. Service is slow and indifferent. On the first day we were not even asked our room numbers. On the second day the service was slightly better. However, if the breakfast quality as well as service quality is anything to go by, I am glad we did not have any other meal there. In fact, on both days, we had dinner at Machan a five minute walk away, which serves pretty good food, and I was not surprised to see many of the hotels guests dining there on both nights.
We checked out after two nights stay. As I had mentioned earlier, we had arranged for an extra bed to be added to one of our rooms and were supposed to pay for it directly at the counter, but the reception only billed us for our tea which we had consumed in the room. I had to insist with him to look through his mails from the Delhi office wherein they had instructed them to charge us for the extra bed, of which they were blissfully unaware. I had to tell him twice to recheck and eventually he found the mail, and we paid the amount.
It isnt as if the staff is bad. They are pretty friendly and polite. However, the problem seems to be one of poor training, and poor maintenance of the property. If they only spent a fraction of what I presume they would be spending on the exteriors and lawns into maintenance of the interiors, the place could have been much better. However, as things stand, it is pretty bad. I dont foresee myself coming back to this place again.