If you’ve ever been to India you’ll know how ridiculously expensive international hotels are in the big cities. A couple of years ago I had a business trip to India just after Chinese new year and went backpacking for a week before the trip. Just before starting my business trip I’d been staying at a perfectly acceptable $10 a night youth hostel in Jodhpur (a private room mind you, I wasn’t slumming it), then I took an overnight train (2nd class sleeper) to Delhi and took a tuk-tuk to the hotel my company had booked for the first part of the business trip. I’m not quite sure what the security guards thought at the $400 (at the time, it’s now just less than $300) a night Taj Palace when I turned up, unshaven, covered in grime and carrying a backpack from the trip but I certainly got a lot of odd looks (and they refused to let me in on the tuk-tuk, I had to get off outside and enter the grounds of the hotel on flip-flop).
So, what did I get for $400 a night? Well, nothing more than I’d get for around 1/3 of the price in Shanghai. I’m not sure why hotels in India are so expensive but it seems to be the case in all of the major cities there, it’s a major problem when you’re trying to cut costs and is the main reason I don’t visit India on business more often.
Anyway, I had the full range of hotels while I was India this time, here are the two extremes:
1 – Gordon House Suites Mumbai
My Indian colleague recommended booking into the Intercontinental (airport hotel) but at almost $300 a night I decided to look for somewhere cheaper. I ended up finding a place on Hotel.com and tripadvisor which was billed as a boutique hotel, had free airport transfers both ways, free breakfast, was situated right next to the Intercontinental and was less than half of the price, I thought I’d give it a go.
First impressions were good, although coming from a snow covered Shanghai I was rather looking forward to the warmth of India. I picked up my keys from reception and made my way upstairs to the 6th floor. Each floor in the hotel had a different theme, I noted a jungle floor and various other tropical offerings all sounding just the job for my chilled bones. Unfortunately my floor was dubbed ‘the glacier floor” and all the rooms were decorated as if you were staying in some kind of ice hotel, think glass floor tiles, a glass desk, pictures of snow covered mountains, acres of white paint, a faint blue night light (blue ice colour), definitely NOT what I’d been looking forward to..
Anyway, here are some pics, it was very nice actually and much better value than one of the main international hotels:
One of the first things I noticed in the room was an enormous bath, almost wide enough for two and deep as well, I could barely wait to get in after a winter of quick showers in a freezing cold bathroom in Shanghai. I dumped my bags in the lounge area and started running the water.
The second thing you notice in the room is a large leaflet about how dreadful it is to waste water. I had a quick flick through while I was waiting for the bath to fill. It was a good ploy by the hotel, within a couple minutes I was feeling so guilty about filling that huge bath just for myself that I turned the water off and bathed in a few inches of water! In retrospect maybe I should have called down to reception to see if there was anybody (female of course) who fancied sharing with me, but too late now (H, if you read this I’m only thinking of the water!!!! Honest!!!).
The hotel bordered with a really interesting looking slum area which I was warned to stay away from, I doubt I’d have had any trouble though!
2 – Ahmedabad Club Room
At the other end of the scale is the room I stayed at in Ahmedabad. I was visiting a customer I’d helped a lot in the past and he wanted to repay me by putting me up at his club. It was a very nice offer but I really didn’t want to stay there, we tried a number of excuses for stopping at a real hotel but he insisted (I don’t want to sound like a snob but when I’m on a business trip I want to be in somewhere fairly decent and comfortable with a decent internet connection where I can rest well etc).
The place had exclusive membership but was a little reminiscent of a 1960′s school gymnasium, they had a swimming pool, badminton court and gymnasium with some odd stuff like a skating rink. It was very much old school, think guys with big moustaches all calling you sir and barefooted cooleys running round with people’s luggage and food orders. They had an interesting way of making sure members pay their subscription charges though, an A4 poster on a signboard in the entrance of the hotel announed in big letters that “All staff please note that Mr xxxxx was currently suspended from the club due to a bounced cheque” a sign obviously intended for other customers, not the staff, I doubt he’ll dare show his face there again.
Anyway, onto the rooms, they were adequate and gloomy but basic and hadn’t been decorated for a long time. I was amazed to find that they had wi-fi though, it wasn’t the best connection but it was a welcome addition!
The lowest point though was that the room had no flushing toilet… Every time I went (and that was quite frequently after all that Indian food..) I had to fill up the bucket and use that to flush manually…
The best part – it was only for one night!