This place has always been my favourite to stay when visiting Velankanni. It is my second stay over here and the suit room with free breakfast and the view of the church is the best. The church and the beach is in a walkable distance.
Due to really bad wifi in most places in India and being busy since returning back to London this review is for our visit on the/12/16. Edited and submitted 9/2. Hopefully still relevant.
We three British guys arrived late morning in this holy Christian city as the funeral of the much loved state first minister was being conducted in Chennai and a three day period of mourning was declared, i.e. everything is shut! Only the odd street vendor and the generous Church Canteen were open at 14:30 when we decided to find somewhere to sit down and eat.
After a confusing queue at the canteen, being refused food in a popular restaurant (only cheap one open, so raking it in, because they had run out at 15:00 precisely) we trekked up the Church Main Road to the big hotels nearer the station road. All were closed by 15:00 too so we ended up trekking back down to the canteen, much quieter now for a very cheap filling spicy veg lunch without cutlery. We vowed to eat better in the evening.
After a paddle, sunset on the roof and snooze we left to check out the big hotels getting there by 21:00. We popped into SeaGate Church View Hotel reception to ask about the restaurant, concierge phoned it and yes it was open, we went down the corridor to find it was dark and empty, not even opening the door to the one man who was in there. We popped over the road to Clinton Inn and saw the sign with the day's date saying restaurant open so we took the musac lift to this first floor Caravela restaurant. It was a much posher hotel than we usually dine in but it seemed the only place open, although we expected an empty restaurant. Exiting the lift we smelt cooking, a good sign. Entering the restaurant itself, taking a chance, we found thankfully two sets of diners in a comfortable upmarket dining space albeit with the ubiquitous wall mounted large LCD TV on at the kitchen/waiter end in case they are bored (or guests want to watch random sections of action thriller or Bollywood movies).
On being seated it was apparent one group was a family with a noisy little girl. Ok we were happy to eat a little good food as we had had a big lunch. Service was attentive, the senior waiter explaining the menu items in more detail in English. As there was no alcohol (like every restaurant) served I ordered a POT of tea with milk and NO sugar, my friend a lime soda and 1l of still mineral water. Our first choice of tandoori chicken was off as the tandoor oven was off (I thought they were not able to be turned off as on permanently) so it was replaced by paneer which the waiter returned to say was also off as the shops were shut....oooops...ok there was a general shut down and they had obviously run out. The second replacement order of bhindi do pyaza and dal fry succeeded. I ordered a thava/masala fish fry as seafood was well known here. My other friend ordered the chicken pepper fry, no problem.
A basket of cheap western wheat puff things was presented along with the water. A cup of tea also arrived (with sugar sachets). Not a lot! I challenged and he said he would refill. Pity, I like a real pot! I'm British through and through you see ;-). A large lime soda arrived.
I asked for the wifi code as there was a signal. The wifi picked up but one had to log into a provider to access, not good for tourists! I gave up, as did my friend. No big deal but we like to check things whilst waiting for food.
The young waiter attentively topped up our glasses of water and my empty cup of tea was replaced.
The food came and the young waiter spooned it out onto our plates. The fish was a smallish fillet which I did not expect at 220. It tasted fine though, garnished with thinly sliced red onions and a small piece of lime. The other dishes were fine too, all tasty. They offered pickle, my friend accepted, I thought they would add it to the bill, it was quite strong lime pickle, it was not added in the end.
Ultimately we had overordered as we had eaten a late lunch. I finished off the food my friends could not eat and all the pickle! A pulka and chappathy were saved for breakfast!
Our second litre of water had been drunk and I was still eating as the table was cleared away (not an English fine dining thing to do) so I asked for my third cup of tea (a pot would have three cups?). None transpired by the time we paid the bill. We were offered deserts but were all too full. We were offered again a minute later and had to repeat we were really too full! Mark up on deserts is quite high. The children and tv had also got quite irritating.
The bill was asked for, the table cleared, and we asked if cards accepted, they were, so my friend went to reception to pay with his. He returned angrily to say only Indian cards were accepted and no apologies given, obviously we were not Indian! With the ongoing financial crisis and our traveling further south to less touristy areas this was not convenient. We got change of 846 from a 2000 note (as the rare ATMs tend to give you) 10% service tax and 6% service included as well as two lots of 2%. Original net was 880 so 274 tax = 31% on top of menu prices. Ok they were the only restaurant open and it was a good tasty meal for 13.44 for three in a nice setting with good service. Sorry but we were spoilt by an equally good meal for a third the price the night before in Hotel Moujahir's (TA unlisted) Vandana Grand restaurant in Karaikal. One gets used to very low prices! Vailankannai is a tourist/pilgrimage centre (akin to Lourdes) so is pricier. The unfortunate and tragic passing of the first minister had repercussions and the restaurant did not actually have to open at all. We were lucky it did!
One thing that did marr the evening was that spoilt little girl shrieking (high pitch going straight through my head) and then either her or a sibling playing a tablet game at high volume with repetitive bells, clapping, machine guns and fanfares! Trying to be tactful I asked the waiter to turn the (ever present and ignored) TV down as it was noisy (implying it was the TV that was noisy, which it was before the games started) and he said it was the children's computer game. I asked him to ask the family to reduce the volume as it was important for a restaurant ambiance (we were blissfully away from the beeping and honking of the road so Kung Fu thwacks, gunshots on the TV and bells and buzzes on a tablet were very unnerving!). As it was an (obviously wealthy as dining there) Indian family the waiter may not have asked them (also they likely to be repeat customers unlike us). The gaming noise reduced a tiny bit but I was not up for a fight but I was not happy. No tip in my book (but service is automatically added and obligatory!!). Thankfully TA is a vehicle to highlight these issues. The extra info questions I expect to see after submitting will no doubt include 'Is this restaurant family friendly?' or 'a venue good for kids?' and in such a restaurant 'yes' and 'yes' but only if kids are under control and not controlling their parents! Children should be seen not heard as they say, including their devices! Adults' whatsapp whistling notifications too! Get them or buy headphones or turn down to silent! Maybe restaurants should have disposable headphones?
Overall this, most expensive restaurant in town, restaurant did deliver at an awkward and tragic time, but no wifi, not sorting the children. The food was pretty good, not excellent, not one of the best meals we've had (cheaper too). The alternative was an empty and dark SeaGate
Great service, A 2 day trip ended in an extension to three because of the food and the great service.The food was excellent. Needs a bit of improvement on the towels & the breakfast counter. Gets too crowded and have people waiting.... which could be avoided
This hotels convenient location close to the various parts of our Ladys Shrine complex is the only thing this hotel has going for it. Im relieved we were only staying one night. The public areas look good but it more or less ends there. Our room was spacious enough for a hotel of this class, but the bathroom wasnt clean, the bedding had stains, and the bathroom window wasnt even glazed, which seemed extraordinary in a building which wasnt that old. Sadly, the noise from the road kept us awake as the window catch in our bedroom was broken and the window wouldnt close properly. And it was a very noisy road, right through the night, or so it seemed. There was hardly anyone staying, yet service in the restaurant was slow to the point of farcical. Just getting drinks took for ever; the wait for our meal was unbelievable. I hate giving bad reviews and very rarely do, but Im sad to say this one is deserved. Just not good enough.
Me and my family frequent Hotel Clinton Park often. The hotel lives upto to its tagline "Feel at Heaven". We notice smiles and service quality improving on every visits. Keep up the good work Clinton Park Inn team!!!