- Ritz Carlton Bangalore
- Four Points by Sheraton Bengaluru, Whitefield
- Aloft Bengaluru Whitefield
- JW Marriott Bengaluru
Ajay and I were in Bangalore over the long weekend to catch up with our readers over the first Bangalore meetup. Additionally, Ajay had some work lined up after the long weekend, and hence we figured we could stay back in Bangalore and catch up with friends and family rather than commute back and forth from Mumbai again.
Additionally, Ajay is on track to get Starwood SPG Platinum, so, there was no better way to go than to try out a few new SPG hotels in town rather than go back to some of our old favourites.
The Park is a boutique hotel, as they describe themselves. The brand gets its name from the famous Park Street in Kolkata where it opened doors of its first hotel 50 years ago in 1967. The hotel is a member of Design Hotels and provides select benefits to SPG members.
We chose to stay here primarily because of 3 reasons: its central location, it’s affiliation to SPG and the fact that every stay at this hotel earned us 1000 bonus points under Starwood’s current Double your Points promotion. Not to mention very low rates on the back of a long weekend.
The hotel is tucked behind the biggies such as The Oberoi on MG Road, and the Taj Vivanta on Trinity Circle.The drive from the Bangalore airport is about 36kms and it took us an hour to arrive at the hotel around mid-day. On arrival, while the doorman took over our bags, we headed to lobby to complete check-in.
The Hotel Lobby
The first thing that I noticed in the lobby was an antique wooden pillar that stood in the middle. It looked out of place though had some beautiful carving all over.
The second thing that stood out about the lobby was the heavy drapes. Shiny green curtains covered one side of the wall as well as hung on the wall above the reception area. It was as if we were in an Indian wedding, one of those that is done by putting up a tent together with drapes. Not something I’ve seen in any hotel before.The hotel clearly was done up many moons ago, given they used faded drapes from the 80s.
There was also an unpolished silver armchair with a footstool around the corner of the lobby. The entire lobby was furnished in a confusing manner with oddly matched pieces of furniture thrown in, as if, from a garage sale.
While Ajay was at the reception, I went over to one of the newer looking chairs to grab a seat and noticed that it was all coming apart.
Another peculiar thing was that the open restaurant in the lobby played soft rock music quite loudly all day long which sort of contradicts the unintentional 70s theme the hotel is trying to portray. Meanwhile, the agent checking us in at the reception advised us that we’d been upgraded to the Terrace Suite that came with a private terrace sit out on the second floor.
The Terrace Suite
I was quite excited so without wasting much time Ajay and I headed to our room on the second floor. On the way to the room the hallway had a strange musty smell and the carpets were old and worn off.
The first thing about the rooms, they have very old locking mechanisms. No contactless key cards are fine, but their key cards are not even about dipping them in. They had some sort of a chip embedded in the card which is truly unique for the times of the day.
Our suite opened up into a small foyer with a decorative mirror placed on an aged wooden rack. Thankfully the flowers in the vase were fresh. On the left, there was stowage space to stack our bags. The stowage was covered with old and shiny curtains that draped the lobby. Those stupid curtains were all over the place!
Walking into the living room, we noticed the blue, pink and lime green colour tones. A bright pink pouffe added a beautiful touch to the living room. A closer look at the pouffe and I saw that the fabric was had patches of something spilt. I then moved on to plonk myself on the chair in the living room and when I got up I noticed that the upholstery was also coming off from multiple places.
The in-room amenities included a kettle and instant tea & coffee. There were 2 mini-bars, one in the foyer area and the second one in the bedroom. I was surprised they were selling spirit quarts which were placed prominently outside the minibar. Yes, I do fancy drinking a whole 250 ml or so vodka on a one night stay. Definitely. NOT!
The bedroom had a queen-size four-poster bed with hanging lights on the side. Ajay frequently ran into them. There was an open trunk placed in the corner of the bedroom with a bright pink cushion inside to adorn the room. And to complete the vintage look there was an empty almirah in one corner and chairs on the other.
For providing electricity next to the bedpost, they had a spike buster installed, with one plug point already being used by their cordless telephone from the Graham Bell era.
The doors from the living and the bedroom opened onto a private terrace. There was sunbed placed that was completely soaked wet, perhaps from the rains the previous night along with some dirty white towels. There was also a sit out table with chairs that were in disrepair. The terrace floor was dirty and it appeared had not been cleaned for days. I was very disappointed to see that after all the terrace that I was so excited about was in a ramshackle state and completely unusable. The view from the terrace was into a construction site, which was supposed to be the city view.
The bathroom had an obsolete marble bathtub that was turning yellow. Similar was the case with the marble washbasin and the marble work in the rooms. It was all decaying and turning yellow. There was a shower area on one side and a cheap transparent plastic shower curtain hung as a separator. The amenities were from Kama Ayurveda.
I have to admit that the upkeep of the bathroom made me feel so unhygienic that I did not even shower till I moved on to the next hotel. The whole suite needed to be razed down and constructed again. Walking barefoot was not an option, because they had wood panels for the floor, which was a nice idea back in the day. Except, they were all decaying now. I can’t imagine anyone paying INR 15,000/ USD 230 plus for shabby suite like that. The suite was really nothing about boutique luxury and had a more of a homestay feel.
We stepped out in the afternoon and while there was no turndown service, on our return in the evening we found a plate with two fruits and some sweet treats placed in the living room. I’m not too sure why they wrote the welcome back message since it was our first ever stay at this hotel. Additionally, our stay included a fruit basket, which maybe is just one apple and a banana.
The hotel has an outdoor pool with cabanas on the side. The pool side and the Aqua bar double up as a party zone in the night.
Apart from this the hotel has a bar and an Italian restaurant. I remember from my day of living in Bangalore that i-BAR and Italia have been popular hangouts among locals for over a decade now. There is an all-day dining restaurant in the lobby. While the hotel brochure mentioned a fitness center, I couldn’t spot a gym anywhere.
Nothing can beat the location of this hotel. The hotel is situated in the heart of Bangalore right on M.G. Road. Ulsoor lake is walking distance. There is a mall right opposite the hotel and in case you did not want at the in house restaurants there are a number of options to eat in and around M.G. Road.
This hotel was good from 20 years ago and I don’t agree that this should have been a Starwood property in the first place. I’ve seen no frill and full-service Starwood hotels, but never have I seen a falling apart Starwood hotel. Overall this hotel is falling apart and in dire need of renovation. Even the ceiling panels in the common spaces were missing.
The only thing that works in favor of this hotel is its central location and the service. The staff are courteous and helpful and honestly to me it appeared that the hotel owners, the Apeejay Surrendra group, are trying to do best with what they have available at hand without wanting to invest a single penny in the upkeep of the property. However, keeping up with the times and the competition around the hotel is in real need of a full refurbishment. As for me it’s been one of the most unpleasant hotel stays till date and I was happy that we had booked the hotel for just one night.
Have you stayed at The Park in Bengaluru? What has your stay experience been like?