Every time I head over to Asia, especially India or Southeast Asia, I am always pleasantly surprised by the awesomeness of the hotels there. And of their relatively low prices for the product they provided. After spending most of my traveling nights in hotels in North America and Europe, it is pleasant to see a hotel that is beautiful, not exorbitant, has excellent service, great food and really understands ‘hospitality’. The everyday Marriotts, Starwoods and Hiltons in the West rarely provide any of these.
A hotel I stayed in recently was the ITC Gardenia in Bangalore. It is pretty much in the heart of the city, right by some great restaurants and not far from most IT workplaces. I knew I was in for a treat when I read the reviews and learnt that the IPL Cricket teams stay there. These teams have more money than most Major League sports team in the US and can stay where they want. I was not disappointed.
Like most hotels in Bangalore, this is not a massive hotel and is a patch of zen in a bustling, congested, noisy city. The first thing that hits you about the hotel is its open lobby – no walls – open air. Only other place I have seen this is in Hawaii. The name Gardenia comes thru with the greenery and gardens you see all around the lobby. There is even an open air restaurant right in the middle of one of the gardens. It has grass growing even on its roof! And yes, it has live music during Happy Hour in the evening. There are Indian Style massive swings which a whole family can sit on in the lobby too. No need to sit on a lumpy sofa while waiting.
I did not get a chance to get to it, but as you can see from the pictures, the hotel has a beautiful pool on the roof of one of its towers.
The hospitality was exceptional – you get greeted by the staff as soon as you enter and receive a traditional Kannada welcome with scarves put around your neck. Like most Asian hotels, the desk staff person who checks you in also escorts you to your room and explains to you the hotels features. The service was truly unbelievable. If you ever wandered thru the lobby looking like you were unsure of anything, you had multiple people step up and offer to help. There is a transportation desk in the lobby – you can use the hotels cars or have them get you a regular taxi. If you are not a Bangalore native, I would suggest getting their car to and fro the airport for sure.
The food – breakfast is a feast, with western and Indian selections that would take a week to sample! Made to order omelettes, dosas and parathas. Lunch was off the books for me every day. In a hurry, no sweat, just let them know ahead of time and they will pack you a box full of enough food to last till dinner. My hotel rate included the breakfast for free! YMMV.
And yes talking of food, right across the street (which you need to be EXTREMELY cautious trying to cross) is an authentic gem of Bangalore – the xxxxx. It has some of the most authentic and classic South Indian food on the planet. The decor, furniture (and even some of the staff) appears to have not changed since the British era it seems, but neither has the taste of the food.
For my fellow Hotel Points junkies, ITC has a partnership with Starwood. So, your Starwood SPG points are good here – for earning and redeeming. You can in fact book this right of the SPG website. If you book elsewhere, be sure you switch from the default ITC loyalty program to SPG to get your points.
I know where I will be staying next time I am in Bangalore.