March 20, 2017
Two nights at the Oberoi Grand – A personal review by Lincoln Harris
In the last week I was fortunate enough to stay two nights again at the Oberoi Grand in Kolkata. A magnificent heritage hotel and an icon of this city, I thought I would share a little of what the experience is like first hand.
Fondly known as the Grand Dame of Kolkata, the hotel dates back to the 1880s. Steeped in heritage and history, the Oberoi Grand was frequented by India’s leading figures during colonial times and still today hosts many heads of state and official functions in its grand ballroom.
So what’s it like to actually stay here? Wonderful, but you probably want to know a little more.
Staying at the Oberoi Grand is like gaining access to a sought after members club, just for a few days. The hotel has its own distinct character – it’s as if it knows its place in the history of this city and indeed the country. It’s proud, but reverential, and discreet, not ostentatious, but it has the attitude of knowing it’s the place to stay in town. The atmosphere is just uppity enough to keep you from coming to breakfast in anything less than a short-sleeved shirt, never mind a t-shirt. When I am confronted by a large group crowding the breakfast room, the staff is far to discreet to tell me where they are from or where they are going (I can tell they are Aussies). Just the type of reticence I would expect from Oberoi.
And speaking of breakfast. The breakfast each day was extensive – there’s a buffet, as well as a la cart options. I really like that when I travel. I tired the tomato and lentil upma from the menu – delicious!! The hotel boasts several restaurants where you can enjoy lunch and dinner each day. It also has an intimate bar that beckons as a place to gather for a few quiets G&Ts at the end of the day with travel companions, and compare all that you have seen and experienced on your visit to Kolkata during your tour of India. It’s the kind of place you’d end up lingering and chatting to the barman or other guests.
The service is certainly a stand out feature of The Oberoi Grand. For example, during my stay the housekeeper cleaned my room while I was working. Later she returned with a laptop cleaning pack saying ‘I noticed you were working so I thought you might be able to use this’. It’s those small things, those extra considerations and attention to detail in service that leave a lasting impression.
At the heart of the hotel, literally, is a beautiful pool that sits in a central courtyard with the hotel built all around. The pool and surrounding gardens are an oasis of cool, green and quiet – a pleasant retreat at the end of a day exploring Kolkata. A quick dip will relax you and cool you off after a hot day in this intriguing city.
The Oberoi Grand feels as much as part of Kolkata as the city itself. Staying here will help you immerse yourself in the rich history and culture of this amazing city.
A visit to Kolkata and a stay at the Oberoi Grand can be included in any of India Unbound’s custom made journeys. The property is one of those included in Heritage Golf India and Brahmaputra River Cruise, two of the small group tours offered by our group touring brand Remarkable East in 2017/18. For further details on Remarkable East visit www.remarkableeast.com.au