For the recently gone Independence Day long weekend, I decided that it would be a nice idea to go back to Goa during the rains. Usually, my preference is to go to South Goa and the Park Hyatt is one of my favourite resorts there. However, this time the brother and I decided to head to North Goa, since I found out that the Hilton now had a property there. This Hilton was actually an independent property, which was reflagged as the Doubletree only in 2012. Too bad, my brother could not make it at the last minute due to other commitments, however I decided to proceed with the trip regardless.
After arriving on an uneventful flight from Mumbai, I took a prepaid cab from the airport to drive me the roughly 45 km distance up north to the hotel. The hotel is set out about 2 km from the Baga beach, and they have regular shuttles between the hotel and the beach on the hour. You have to be careful of the touts, and if you do not have a hotel pickup organised, you can always take one from the official taxi counter right outside the airport.
On arrival, I was presented with the Doubletree cookie at check-in. I was going to stay for 3 nights here, one on Hilton points, and two on Points & Money. The hotel might just be one of the best Category 1 hotel out there, being only 5000 Hilton HHonors points for one night, and 2000 HHonor points + $30 if you used the Points+Money rewards. I was in touch with the hotel earlier, and as a Hilton Gold, I was upgraded to the 1 Bedroom Pool view Suites (the only kinds they had), in advance of arrival. Apart from that, breakfast and internet access were made complimentary.
Lobby on Arrival
I offered my credit card for a guarantee, but I was told it was not required. For the first time in my years of travelling, a hotel did not ask for a guarantee. I was genuinely surprised. I asked about the occupancy, and I was told the hotel was going to be having a lot of occupancy due to the long weekend. The front desk personnel then walked with me to the room.
The suite was compact, as compared to some of the others I have stayed at, but it was a cosy little thing with a view of the pool as well as the lagoon outside the hotel. The living room had a large television and some couches, while the bedroom had a smaller television, and a queen size bed. There was also a welcome amenity of chocolates waiting in the room when I arrived.
The Living Room
Poolside view from the balcony
The bathroom had a rain shower installed, and like is the usual, they fit the knobs behind the shower so that you could get second degree burns while adjusting the water temperature for the shower. They were stocked with the Citron line of amenities from Crabtree & Evelyn.
Funnily, when I checked out the minibar for a drink, I only found some soft drinks inside. There was nothing more to it, and my expectations were raised when I saw tons of different kind of glasses on display in the living room (for beer, wine and spirits).
Overpromise, underdeliver minibar
Since I was tired, I went off for a quick nap, and when I woke up, I decided to head to the restaurant in the hotel itself (called Flame), for a light dinner. The kitchen had run out of steak, so I settled for a tuna melt sandwich. As the evening progressed, the crowds came in by the droves. For those interested in a large meal, there was a dinner buffet as well, apart from a-la-carte dining.
The restaurant manager was very concerned I was eating so less, and he did offer that I should at least try the soups of the day or some desserts from the buffet of the evening, an offer I had to decline because I wanted a light meal that evening.
The next morning, I found myself back in the same restaurant to get some breakfast. They had a reasonably big buffet, including cereal, fruits, cold cuts, breads, English breakfast, South Indian and North Indian breakfast, and also a eggs/pancakes and South Indian live station (which could get you Dosas)
I decided to take in a larger than usual breakfast for myself and went with some Dosas and other Indian savouries apart from some cereal for breakfast. The staff was courteous and efficient, and were on their toes during the breakfast time, which was extended by 30 minutes because all of a sudden lots of people turned up 15 minutes before the scheduled time of the closure.
Breakfast for me
One of the irksome things I noticed once I got back to the room was the painting in the living room, which wasn’t hung straight, and I just couldn’t seem to fix it!
On the last evening, when I was lazing around in the hotel rather than being out, I’d missed lunch, and hence I wanted something to eat early evening. Instead of calling for room service, I thought of checking out the little lounge-cum-coffee shop they had called Caffeine, where I could get a takeaway or a small meal. Just as I was ordering myself a portion of Mac and Cheese, I was informed by the crew that as a Hilton Gold I was able to get myself complimentary drinks and small plates between 6-8 PM. Though it was already informed to me via the letter placed in the room, I usually don’t end up at cocktail hours at hotels because I’m usually out of the hotel at that hour.
Coffee with almond biscotti
Also, being lazy that evening, I decided to eat again at the Flames restaurant, and partake in the dinner buffet of the restaurant. They had a large spread, with salads, soups, Indian curries & rice and some pan-Asian stuff such as noodles & gravies. Most of all, they had an amazing set of desserts. Though the dinner was reasonably priced, with the 17% taxes on top, it started to look a little over the top for the price.
At check out on the final afternoon, I took a car from the hotel itself for my airport transfer, as it was very reasonably priced, and I did not want to bother myself with hunting around a taxi in Goa.
Overall, a very good stay at the property, and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking for a hotel stay in North Goa. The prices were reasonable for revenue room rates as well, and the hotel seems to have a good grip on benefits to be provided to Hilton HHonors members, so I’d sure hope to come back.