Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Gujarat tour : the hotels: Hotel Accolade, Hotel Atithi, Hotel Oasis

As mentioned in my earlier post about the sudden plans of going to Gujarat, the obvious thing to do was to first find a place to stay and my reference was the TripAdvisor. I also had a look at discounts available through Make MyTrip to check how much I could negotiate the room rates for.I shortlisted a few based on the reviews and my budget.
My selection criteria was as below:

1. Buffet Breakfast available: Would be good to set out with stomach full as you spend the day outside with no surety of when you get the next meal. Also saves time in finding one in the morning. Whether the buffet contained limited or unlimited items? Some of them had set menus of three items to be selected from their menu.
2. Has an airport pick up? Saves time in all those odd hours searching for the hotel
3. Check-in Check out timings
4. Centrally Located
5. Availability of Wi-fi
6. Opt for a no-smoking room
7. Opt for a room with no sound...the higher the floor, the better
8. And of course, the rates and the discounts

My big advantage is that by going during off-season, I not only got rooms easily but also availed flexible check in/check out timings.

Searched for hotels in mid-range and found few, of which the ones that fit my requirement were the Krios and the Accolade. During both stints of my stay in Ahmedabad, Krios promised a room but backed out in my call for confirmation saying that they have an earlier booking extended. Found that strange.


Hotel Accolade, Ahmedabad

There was an airport pick up but the service was not free. The hotel had all its basic amenities in place. It was quite clean too.There was no noise to disturb you and you get a fitful sleep.
The breakfast buffet, part of the package had a mix of North and South Indian & Continental. I remember having dosas, sandwiches, parathas, baked vegetables, all about 10 items or so. I thought that the buffet was frugal. Nonetheless, they tasted decent...till I had their Sunday buffet and then found that the breakfast was brilliant. Though the number of items hadn't increased, they had much better tasting food on the weekend. What I thought should have been included is a Gujarati item so that it provides an insight into what Gujarati food is about. On the down side, the dining area was not too great as they dumped the plates right in front of us into a waiting tub. The dirty tub, the wash area, a broken and under-repair part of the hotel didn't make a pleasant sight while eating. The waiters were attentive and helpful though.
On the minuses, the hotel's very business-like approach was a slight put-off. The courtesy was there but the smiles missing. Going out of way to accommodate your requirement was not there. For example, when I couldn't partake of my breakfast as I had to leave at 7 am, I requested them to parcel a little from the breakfast but they only replied that they do not have such system in place. Hence I was forced to delay my leaving to quickly eat what I could. And being a slow eater, that was a tough feat to pull. It was good that I ate because there were no eateries enroute that day.
If I have to come back here, I will because they deliver what they promise and for their decent food. Just wish there were less of the rigid politeness and more of genuine smiles.

The cab driver happened to point out Atithi, another hotel in the vicinity of Accolade and told me that they had a tie up with this hotel too. This was not among the top ranking hotels in TripAdvisor.Yet, curios, I got down and checked the hotel. For a similar tariff as that of Accolade, I was getting a bigger room and with a one-side free airport/railway pick-up/drop. Good enough. The hotel was newer and therefore, again as Krios had turned me down, I opted to stay in Atithi during my next stint in Ahmedabad. The good thing is the room itself, which was vast and comfortable. Bigger bathroom with a secluded bath area. What was not good was the toilet paper being placed behind the seat. To maneuver your self into the position of turning around to pull it down was tough. The seat, even for a short person like me, was too low and on the first day, I found myself plonk down unexpectedly on it.  The wash basin was jammed and I would find myself wait patiently for the water to drain down slowly.
They have excellent facilities at the door like different touch buttons for different signs. You touch one of them to highlight your status. But believe me those statuses are royally ignored. I had pressed the 'do not disturb' button on the day I wanted a break in the travel and just as I hit the bed, I get a call asking me if I wanted to get the laundry done. One, I don't think the services should make a call unless the resident actually asks for something. Second, whats the point in my displaying a do not disturb status? Twice,  I had the boys drop in with things I hadn't even ordered. I feel it is a nuisance to get up from bed to open the door to such unnecessary intrusions.
Coming to their breakfast, I felt that it is a fiasco. Being a slow eater, I take a long time eating and I found one of the guys stand at the end of my long table and not leaving till I had done with my breakfast. Uncomfortable when someone is breathing down your neck as you eat. There were very limited and unappetizing items on the table. But we could order stuff from the restaurant's south Indian menu. Going to Gujarat and ordering South Indian isn't exactly a great idea but then I had to. I don't know how this system works because the meaning of buffet itself is defeated when everyone's busy ordering from your a la carte menu.
On the upside, the wi-fi speed is excellent but then having to log in with a new password every time you log off for long periods can be a bit cumbersome.I was here in two stints having left my luggage in their care for a couple of days and then coming back. All these check-in and check outs were handed smoothly with no hidden costs.
If I come back, it will for the size of the room and its cleanliness. And just because I wasn't uncomfortable there.

Both hotels situated close to Law Garden area, I had good access to the local evening shopping and street food therein.

The hotel in Bhuj was booked just one day before arrival because the booking agent with who I had dealt with was useless and I had to make my own last minute arrangement. This hotel's standards or facilities were not on par with the hotels at Ahmedabad but the tariff was similar and even slightly higher. There was no offer of railway pick up but then I insisted as I was new to the place. Bhuj is a tiny place and they sent a cab to pick me up from the station just about 5-6 minutes away.

Hotel Oasis, Bhuj, Gujarat

The room , not too big really, had the basic amenities and I had no complaints. Except that you need to wait for hot water for a bath in the evenings as it takes time for them to get it to your room or have the geyser centrally switched on and wait for the water to heat up. The wi-fi speed was excellent with no major log in issues. The hotel is three storied and doesn't have a lift facility. Funnily, I found few rooms situated at the back of the hotel and I was allotted the last one in that row. I didn't get a good feel as though I were an outcast. But then when I asked they offered me one on the ground floor so I needn't go up the steps all the time. I turned that down as being so close to the reception and restaurant might create disturbance. One plus of being the last room was that there was no noise.
This was one hotel where I just dropped in going by its No. 1 ranking without bothering to read other hotels' reviews so I cant say if I chose the best one. But 3 star it surely wasn't, though not lacking in terms of tariff.
The room didn't have the required paraphernalia for preparing tea/coffee either.All food had to be ordered from their restaurant Sankalp, which had an exorbitantly priced menu. There was no provision for a buffet breakfast. Well, on the upside, the food was good, the tiffin items and the Gujarati stuff.
The hotel had tie ups with drivers who would drive you to your destination but then ask for drivers who know their way around. I got a good one on day 1 but the one on day 2 made me miss some localities as I found out later that he was one who just drives around Bhuj locally and not too familiar with places outside Bhuj.

Common to all hotels:

Though the room boys aren't all that well trained, there is no hollering in the corridors. The hotel rooms are quiet.
Providing flip flops for indoor use...though a bit too big for my size.
Inability to converse in good and fluent English. They were more comfortable in handling calls and conversation in Hindi. Would be a bit tough with people with no knowledge of Hindi.