Hotel choices in Lucknow have changed over the last few years. Where 3 years ago Taj was the only significant hotel in the city, a number of global hotel chains like Marriott, Radisson and Hyatt have opened and are offering stay options for all kind of traveller budgets from value to luxury. That makes the choice for a Lucknow Hotel all the more confusing.
We were originally planning to stay at the Hyatt Regency that had just opened up given they were doling out bonus points. However, with the Megabonus promotion, and Ajay’s Marriott Rewards Platinum status, thanks to matching his SPG Platinum Status we were keen to see what’s changed with the new status.
Therefore, before taking our flight out from Lucknow we booked a night at the Fairfield by Marriott. My stay at the Fairfield by Marriott in Lucknow was the first-ever Fairfield property for me, ever.
A day before our arrival we received an email from the hotel confirming our reservation and asking us if we would like to share any additional information with them. Since we were planning to start the 250 kilometres drive from Gorakhpur early next morning, to beat the city traffic, we requested for an early check-in. The drive with a leisurely breakfast stop on the way took us about 5 hours and we arrived at the hotels around 11 am in the morning.
Hotel Lobby & Check-in
The hotel is located in Gomti Nagar and is situated on the highway when entering Lucknow. The tall, white non-descript building is visible from the main road. Once our driver pulled the car into the porch, the doorman came forward to help us scan our bags.
The entrance to the hotel opens up into a spacious hall with a high ceiling. The reception was on the right and it was crowded with people. There were tonnes of people waiting. We walked up to the reception to locate the Marriott Rewards desk. However, the reception was a complete chaos.
There were two clueless staff trying to process more than twenty guests. No one cared if there was any Marriott Rewards elite member in the queue and clearly the staff behind the reception looked completely overwhelmed with the rush and seemed out of their comfort zone.
This was quite unexpected for a hotel that has been open for more than a year. There was a Marriott Rewards desk but did not seem they care if members paid them a visit.
At check-in, the staff just handed us over the room keys in a rushed manner. No one explained us the Marriott Rewards Platinum benefits we were eligible for.
Later, I checked on Marriott’s website and the Platinum arrival gift at the Fairfield brand is a choice between 200 Marriott Rewards points and an F&B amenity. We weren’t advised about either at the reception. Probably the staff are not used to receiving elites at the hotel.
Since we had a driver along, I enquired if there was a place for the driver to sleep and use washrooms on a payable basis. A gentleman behind the check-in told me that while they had no facility for drivers to sleep, there was a wash area in the basement parking that he could use.
Another hotel staff emerged from behind and negated his colleague telling me that they do not have any facilities for drivers. I found this absurd considering that lots of people drive into Lucknow for weekend stays or to catch flights from the airport. Nevertheless, I told my driver to check with the doorman outside and turns out that there was a wash facility in the basement car park.
We collected our key cards, picked up bags from under the pile of guest luggage that the bell boys had trashed them with on one corner and headed up to our room on the 10th floor.
Although my Marriott Rewards profile reflects my preference for a king bed, our room 1021 turned out to be a twin bedroom. So, we headed back to the reception to request a room change.
The staff at check-in told us that they are sold out and did not have any other room available. Despite the fact that the reservation website showed a suite available for sale. They first said this was a mistake altogether that there was a suite for sale.
When Ajay almost booked it and showed it to the hotel staff, the staff sheepishly told us that guest check-outs are still in process and he will check and come back to us. Until then we could use the same room. It was already noon by then. Tired from waking up early morning and the drive we headed back to the room to wait for a call. After consequent follow-up, we finally got a call advising that they are getting the suite ready however it would take an hour and the new room will be ready by 1 pm.
Though when I woke up around 1:30 pm there was still no update. I rang back the reception and the person on the other side of the line first did not seem to be aware of the room change, then he told me that he will check with his colleague and call me back in 5 minutes.
The 5 minutes turned into 20 minutes and I called up again to follow up. I was then advised that it would take another 15 minutes to get the suite ready. I was annoyed. Not because the suite was not ready but due to the lack of communication on the hotel’s behalf. Had they told us about the timeline earlier, we would have happily stepped out for lunch.
The walls were so thin that we could clearly hear the dialogues on the television playing in the room next to us.
We finally moved into our new room at 2 pm. The hotel has one category of suites and our 2 room suite #1002, on the 10th floor came with a living room and a bedroom. Let’s just say I wasn’t expecting much here, but they still managed to disappoint. The living room had a work desk at the entrance, a first I’ve seen and led into a sitting area with a couch and a centre table.
There was a glass cupboard behind the door. Half of the cupboard was used as a display rack with showpieces. In the other half, they housed the minibar. An odd use of a big cupboard I’d say.
The minibar had non-alcoholic beverages.
The bedroom was separated from the living room by a privacy wall. The bedroom had space just to fit in a king size bed and bedside tables.
There was a fancy JBL alarm clock placed on the table that had a built-in radio and the LED lights behind worked as a night lamp.The room television was fixed on the wall opposite to the bed. Beneath the television was a counter where the kettle and the amenities to make tea & coffee were placed there.
Our room had a city side view and in the morning we could see the administration offices right across from the road.
There was a large wardrobe in the bedroom. An iron and an ironing board and the room safe were placed inside the wardrobe.
The bathroom had marble flooring and came with a bathtub and a separate shower.
The wash basin was from the German company Villeroy & Boch. I hadn’t expected Marriott’s value hotels to be furnished with European luxury vanity units. The bath amenities were in pump dispensers and worked just fine.
The bathroom was definitely the most lavishly furnished room in the suite.The suite bedroom was well appointed though much smaller than the deluxe room we had been allocated earlier.
The hotel has an all-day dining restaurant on the lobby level called Kava.
We had evening drinks at the bar next to the restaurant. The cocktails were good though the service was shoddy. We had to constantly look out for someone to take our orders. For repeat orders, I simply walked up to the server and ordered for everyone. There was a deli in the reception lobby which offered take away options. While the hotel does not have a pool, there is a fitness centre which we did not use.
Next day at checkout while signing off the invoice we realised that as Marriott Rewards Platinum guest Ajay was eligible for other benefits which were never informed to us. As a result, the following benefits were not known to us, to be able to avail them:
- 20% discount on Food & Beverages
- 2 Pieces Laundry on Arrival
Had we not noticed this on the invoice we would have never known. When Ajay raised this, everyone behind the reception had a blank look on their faces. It appeared as though they were hosting a Marriott Platinum guest for the first time at the hotel, which is quite tough to believe for a hotel that is more than a year old. Heck, we were not even offered the amenity that is supposed to be available on check-in.
Marriott has clearly laid down guest compensation procedures when guest preferences and benefits are not catered to. Ajay reminded the staff that they had not provided us with a check-in amenity and hence we were due for a $25 payout.
Yet again, the first reaction of the staff was disbelief. They did not want to pay-out, so they kept trying to convince us that we could now have the 200 points. That was not a choice we wanted to have, so we left it at that as we had a flight to catch. On the way to the airport, we got a call from the check-in desk that they had decided to offer us the amount due to us. Ajay asked them to send it as a cheque, but the hotel offered to reverse an equivalent amount on the credit card, which was also okay.
And yet another proof that the hotel does not know how to deal with the Marriott Rewards brand standard or protocol, they totally forgot to post the points for our room for over 1.5 months. After many emails to them and the Marriott Rewards team, we could finally get points to post for one room. Another room where my parents stayed is still due for posting and we’ve been chasing the hotel for two months now.
This is a Marriott category 1 hotel where a reward night costs 7,500 points. A standard room night here is priced at INR 4000 plus GST.
Although the rooms here are comfortable, it appears that the hotel is really at sea with the concept of hospitality. They market themselves as a 4-star hotel but staff all the way up to the managers are not trained in the concept of hospitality.
This is one hotel that really needs to get its act together. We never found anyone adhere to the Marriott brand standards, more so I was surprised that everyone we spoke to right from the duty manager to the front office was clueless. When I called up in the morning to check on our eligibility for breakfast, the front desk told us it was not the case, while the invoice said we were on a continental plan, i.e., breakfast inclusive.
In one word, we’d advise you to avoid this hotel if you come in with hopes of getting anything more than a room and a bed to sleep on.
Have you stayed at the Fairfield by Marriott in Lucknow? What has been your experience with this hotel?