No matter how often you travel, it’s always a treat to exit the departure lounge of an airport to the sight of a placard with your name on it. I was in Kolkata recently, known for its art, history, cinema, philosophical discussions and the striking contrast of social classes that inspired Dominique Lapierre’s book City of Joy.
Escorted to a waiting car, I felt at once privileged and pampered having someone push my trolley for me, but still awash with a feeling of comfort having touched down in a place that is still unfamiliar.
The first of the rains had just hit the city and we headed to my hotel – The Park Kolkata – through a mist of fine rain that washed the streets and gave the landscape an ‘India’ feel. We drove past the beautiful residential areas of Teghoria and the high-rise buildings and offices on the fringes of Salt Lake City. Soon we were at the gorgeous Maidan locality of Kolkata, boasting its stunning colonial architecture and wide open spaces including the famous Eden Gardens and Kolkata Race Course.
<span style=”font-weight:400;”>Bordering its edge was The Park Kolkata, that traced its history back to 1967 as a luxury hotel located in the city’s most posh area. Check-in was a breeze and before long I was escorted to my new digs for the weekend. The Residential Suites are The Park’s luxuriously designed accommodation that includes services that are sure to make you feel special.
This is the flagship property of The Park Hotels, and is almost an icon in its own right, having seen the comings and goings of celebrities and VIPs through the decades. Not too long ago, a series of renovations has led to a chic new look, complete with a dramatic lobby designed by the renowned Conran and Partners. Its rooms, public spaces and restaurants follow the same mould, with exquisite and thoughtful décor that brings the hotel well into the 21st century.
Within the hotel, there are 36 Deluxe and Luxury Rooms each, 60 Luxury Premium Rooms and a Presidential Suite. I was in one of the 16 Residential Suites, a sprawling 570 square foot space with an extraordinarily comfortable queen-sized bed topped with a 10-inch mattress. I could have slept all day!
The suite also included a glass-top bureau with a high-speed internet port, double-seater sofa, and a large LCD television with a wide variety of entertainment and news channels to keep you updated about the latest events, or occupied in case of a heavy downpour!
There were the usual suspects of uber luxury hotels – well-stocked mini bar, in-room safe, Wi-Fi, tea and coffee makers, magnifying shaving mirror and a bathtub with a shower. But what was ‘anything but ordinary’ – to use the hotel tagline – was the complimentary bottle of delicious wine on arrival, 24-hour butler service, access to a private lounge with complimentary breakfast, high tea and happy hours.
Through my stay, I indulged in some of the most delectable cuisine this side of India. Every dish was beautifully plated, every presentation made with a smile. It was certainly true Indian hospitality. The Park Kolkata goes traditional at Saffron but with a contemporary twist to its Indian delights. You’ll find flavours from across the country here, and it’s best followed up by a few hours of relaxation at Someplace Else, the hotel’s old school pub featuring live music and international liquor.
Tantra is where the hip crowd likes to hang out, a high energy pub and nightclub with a pulsating dance floor that draws celebrities and the city’s who’s who for its fashion shows, theme nights, mega events and international acts.
You cannot say you’ve visited Kolkata if you don’t try out the local chaat, so we headed to The Street that serves all your favourite snacks from India as well as others from around the world, along with desserts, and even wine and beer. This was definitely my kind of place.
For dinner, we enjoyed a decadent spread of tastes of the Orient at one of the best Asian restaurants in Kolkata at Zen. To wind down for the night, we headed to Roxy for some gin and tonic and swinging 60s tunes, a throwback to the Anglo-Indian influence on the city’s music scene.
But despite the wet weather, The Park Kolkata was bustling with guests. Perhaps many were present for conferences or events, for which the hotel is ideally located and offers an extensive variety of banquet or conference halls. Anywhere between 30 and 1000 guests can be accommodated at its well-laid out event spaces – Pine Hall, Rosewood Hall, Ebony Room and Banyan Room – which come equipped all the latest facilities. Following renovation, the hotel has also included the Galaxy with a capacity of about 500 guests.
Rest and relaxation is taken to another level at The Park Kolkata. It’s got the Aura Spa with seven therapy rooms offering Indian traditional and contemporary treatments as well as a salon, sauna, steam, a top-of-the-line gym and pool facilities. It’s shining star, however, is the Skydancer, a centrally air-conditioned plush two-cabin yacht that brings out the beauty of Kolkata’s waterways. It comes with its own butler, and with a pantry, is ideal for private events or unconventional corporate meets.
The Park Kolkata has always been a huge part of luxury life in Kolkata. Nationwide, The Park Hotels are increasingly becoming known for their pulsating nightlife, and The Park Kolkata sets the pace for being one of the most exciting hotspots in the city.