A long weekend is an excuse to get out of town, and October 2-6 this year was one of those with a lot of holidays. With a lot of Bengali friends, I’ve heard great things about Kolkata during the Durga Puja season, and it was one of the things on my to do list. So, this year, it was a good time to make it happen.
When I started to look for hotels, I eventually narrowed it down to the ITC Sonar or the Hyatt Regency, which are two hotels I’ve been wanting to go to for a while. Luckily for me, I spotted a very good deal at the Hyatt Regency Kolkata during the Monsoon Flash sale they held a few weeks back. However, the hotel was also selling Club level rooms via Cleartrip for a much cheaper price than their own website, so I was able to make a best rate guarantee claim, and get myself booked into a Club Room for a rate cheaper than the Monsoon Flash Sale rate for base category rooms. As a Diamond member, I’d have anyways gotten upgraded to a Club room, but this was cheaper, so why not.
I wrote to the hotel ahead of the visit, informing them of my flight details. I also requested them for inputs on what to do for Puja season. The hotel confirmed that they would be able to send me a car for airport transfers free of cost. I arrived in Kolkata at about 10:30 AM, and the hotel crew was waiting with a sign of the hotel. He walked us to a Toyota Innova waiting for us, and we were on our way to the hotel. The hotel is situated in Salt Lake City, right next to the Salt Lake stadium.
After about 30 minutes of driving, we arrived at the hotel. The chauffeur informed the hotel about our arrival ahead, and we were met by a member of the front office at the reception. I was informed that they had organised to complete the check-in in the room itself and they led us to the room on the top floor of the hotel. Also, a member of the concierge team handed me over a big envelope with the details of some Pujas in town which we were must visit according to them, a gesture I appreciated. I was also handed out a card to select the Diamond Amenity I wanted to select, and this is one of those hotels which had a large list of items on offer as F&B amenity including wines and some nice salmon, rather than just cookies or something like that. However, two days later, at check-out, I handed them over the card and asked them to credit the 1000 Hyatt Gold Passport points to me, because I was not able to select over the two days what I wanted from the F&B amenities.
We were upgraded on this visit to the Duplex Suite of the hotel, which was a nice surprise. My fiancée and me were celebrating a small occasion, and the hotel came out tops with all the arrangements they made for us. When we arrived in the room, there was a large bunch of lily flowers, and a cake to celebrate our event, and I have to give them full marks for all their efforts.
The duplex suite, like the name signified, was on two floors. The ground floor housed a small kitchenette and a living room and a balcony, while the bedroom was upstairs, along with a slant roof with curtains that could go up, and also a lovely bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub inside.
I was floored. One of the parts of being a Hyatt Diamond member, is the soft benefits they send along. And this one is filed under they take care of me. I did not use a suite upgrade certificate given that this was a short stay, however, the hotel worked on their own initiative to make it special for us.
Here are some pictures of the room. Apart from the couches, which were very comfortable, the living room housed a TV with a swivel stand which was great to get some work done on the desk and still catch a piece of the news.
The kitchenette housed the minibar and a coffee maker apart from a hot plate. I would imagine that would come handy if you threw a party and had a lot of people in the room.
We went off to sleep since we had an early start to the day, and I was hungry when we woke up. So, I ordered some room service, and it was delivered in 20 minutes.
That evening, we headed to the lounge to sit and discuss our plan for the evening over a drink, and it was cocktail hours. However, it being October 2, this was a dry day, and no cocktails were being served. I came across Biki, the person who was managing the lounge, and he was very attentive and talked to us quite a bit. We sought his insights about places we should visit that evening, and he offered us local insights. One of the nicest guys I met at this hotel, apart from the people who would do housekeeping on our room, who were very very nice.
Coming back to the lounge, it was a very nicely done up lounge with a lot of natural light streaming in. Also, it overlooked the stadium and the hotel pool, and there was a boardroom set up right there for the use of members. And yes, they made a nice frothy cappuccino.
A nice concept I found at this lounge was the salad bowl, which you could use to toss up a salad with the ingredients of your choice. There was a selection of cheeses, a few hot appetizers such as cutlets, quiches and tarts and some cold cuts and Prosciutto along as well. Overall, if you compare it with the Mumbai Hyatt Regency, found the cocktail hours lacking in terms of food.
Later that evening, we flicked the Uber app, and got ourselves a ride which dropped us in South Kolkata for the start of our Pandal hopping that evening. During Durga Puja, a lot of pandals come up around Kolkata and the rest of India, and for the locals, they go around on foot all day or all evening to visit as many as they can. Along with this, there is a fair like setup in almost all vicinity of Puja pandals, and you can dig into street food as much as you please.
After about 5 hours of walking around and eating a whole lot of street food, we were done for the evening and got back to the hotel, where turndown service was done on the room. We crashed, and woke up a little late next morning. It was 9:40 by the time we could step down for breakfast, and the hotel informed us over phone that the breakfast would be served in the lounge as well as restaurant till 10:30. We decided to go to the lounge for our morning fix.
However, to our surprise, the person managing the lounge that morning was pretty interested in wrapping up the breakfast than helping his guests tuck in some food. Hot items were running out, and not refilled. While the limited breakfast was open to us, when we asked for any of the hot items they could do for us, such as a dosa or Eggs Benedict, we were informed that it would need to come from the kitchen of the all-day restaurant, and it would take time. So, the spread started to wrap itself up at 10:05 or so. And we ordered ourselves some eggs which the lounge kitchen could do up themselves. Colour me unimpressed after a fine start to our stay the day before.
We were away for most of the day, we were back in the hotel for a few hours in the evening. So we headed to the lounge in the evening where I could get some work done, where there was an unappetizing spread around. Another no drinks being served day, however we got a nice table by the window front where we could see the celebrations in the grounds next door. Unfortunately, the lounge manager that evening decided to conduct business with an open door to the kitchen, so from where we were seated, I could listen to her taking the case of so many of the other employees on the phone for not turning up at work.
The next morning, I was sort of done with the lounge. It was my last morning there, and I really did not want my experience to go sour with an off and on lounge experience. So, we headed to the Waterside Cafe where full breakfast is served. While the letter received at check-in stated that full breakfast would cost us INR 510 per head supplement, this amount was not charged. We got a table by the windows.
The spread was of course, much much bigger than the lounge. There was the usual Indian spread, which had south Indian food and a live station for eggs, pancakes and Indian delicacies. Apart from that, there was miso soup and other Japanese food on offer, the usual stuff such as bakery items, cold cuts and the works.
One of the interesting things we noticed was the Green Peas Kachori with Alu Sabzi, which was pretty awesome. Do try it out if you find it on the menu. And the pancakes were some of the best I’d had with a lovely fluffy consistency.
We had already informed the hotel of our departure time, and the airport was about 30 minutes away from the hotel. Hence, we got a late check out till the evening about 5 pm, which was possible because the hotel was empty due to the vacation season. In the evening, the hotel organised a car to drop us to the airport and we were on our way.
Overall, the value we got out of this stay was hard to beat, purely because of the Best Rate Guarantee kicking in. But even otherwise, I would love to come back to this hotel whenever I decide to continue my exploration of Kolkata. Only if they could make their lounge a little more awesome…ummm!