The year 2016 has been synonymous with travel for me. I have done 26 trips in all out of which 25 sponsored because of my blog. And the year is not over yet! My first personal trip came in December to Jaipur with my parents-in-law, we stayed at Holiday Inn Jaipur. My blogging trips kept me busy throughout the year, I had hardly any time to plan a personal trip. The trip to Jaipur was a long pending one, we first planned it in 2014 but on the same dates I got an opportunity to travel to Finland with Nokia. Jaipur had to wait till 2016.
I made sure we were going to Jaipur this time. While searching for hotels, I was looking for a comfortable one because even though I can rough out but I do not expect my parents in law or any elderly person in my family to do the same. I saw great rates for Holiday Inn Jaipur City Center and I booked 2 rooms with them.
The book experience was smooth, I booked through the IHG Club App. They put my card on hold, they did not charge anything upfront. Cancellation policies were also generous, I was travelling on 5th and up to 4th morning, if I’m not mistaken, I was allowed to cancel without incurring any charges. If you are an IHG Club member, the Internet automatically becomes free for you for the duration of your stay.
On 5th December we started our journey to Jaipur by Shatabdi Express. Thankfully for Rajasthan bound trains we can board from Gurgaon Railway Station itself. The trouble with Shatabdi is that it arrives too early at 10.40 am. Most of the hotels have check-in starting at 2.00 pm. The train was late by more than an hour. By the time we reach the hotel, it was past 12 noon. My parents in law sat in the comfortable lobby while I went to inquire at the reception about check-in.
The staff was courteous, they could find my reservation easily. Best of all and they were able to give me two rooms immediately, may God bless them because we were tired. We immediately proceeded to the rooms on the first floor. The lobby of the Holiday Inn is impressive, it has a high ceiling, comfortable seating and it looks inviting once you enter.
I was happy with my room too. I had a twin bed but then I was alone in my room ,I am OK with any kind of beds. My parents-in-law had the king size bed that we wanted. The room was large, it was well lit it and well maintained. I thoroughly enjoyed my room throughout my stay. The bathroom was clean, it had good amenities, everything that I needed . The room had notes asking us to co-operate in the ways which would put less pressure on the environment. I enjoy such places more than the normal ones.
On the first day we ordered room service for lunch, we were just too tired to go out. Food is of course slightly more expensive than the restaurants around but that is understood. I ordered dal bati churma, my parents-in-law ordered Khichdi and Biryani.
The food came fast and that is what you need when you are tired and hungry. My food was good but my parents-in-law found the curd sour. They are South Indians, you cannot give them sour curd and expect them to praise the food. I don’t think we had any complaints with the food other than that.
I booked the room with breakfast for it is not complimentary with the room. The room rate with breakfast was still quite reasonable. We enjoyed our breakfast on all days. They have a wide range that covers Continental, North Indian and South Indian dishes. They have masala chai as well.
The hotel is right next to two malls, yet the malls did not have many eating options. We settled for Copper Khurchan in the Mahima Mall. We had most of our meals there. It was easy to get an Uber from the hotel to the city. Other than Amber Fort which is far away from everything, nothing is too far away from Holiday Inn Jaipur.
Even though I did not swim due to the cold weather, I went to check the rooftop swimming pool. It’s quite attractive, the next time if I am going in warmer weather, I’ll definitely going for a swim.
Way too soon my holiday was over and it was time to check out. My train was in the evening, once again I was offered an extra hour for check-out. At 1.00 pm I got out to pay the bill. We left our luggage with them and went out to enjoy our last few hours in Jaipur.
At the station I realized that I had left my Kindle behind. I usually do not leave even a charger by mistake. But this time I left my Kindle in the room! I called the hotel and requested them to check my room to see if they could find it. They promised to check and call me back.
The kept the promise and called me back with the good news that they found my Kindle. I told them to keep it, I would pick it up the next time I was in Jaipur. They said they would courier it to me.
True to their words, they sent it to me. They wrapped it with a lot of care so that it didn’t break in the transit. I have to say a big thank you to Holiday Inn Jaipur for finding my Kindle and sending it back to me with great care. Overall, I had a wonderful trip and stay with them. But finding my Kindle again was the icing on the cake.
I will recommend Holiday Inn Jaipur highly if you are looking for a nice hotel in the city. This was my one personal trip of this year and I am glad it ended on a happy note! I will surely stay back with them if I get a good rate again.
I recently stayed for one night at the Palladium Hotel, Mumbai (Now St. Regis) I was attending 2015 Discover Thainess an event which was held at the hotel itself. The rooms were booked for us by the Tourism Authority of Thailand. We were greeted by the staff at the ground floor. As most of us had very little luggage we decided to carry it on our own. The main lobby of the hotel is at the 9th floor. It is quite a thing of beauty. Without any further delays, here is my Palladium Hotel Mumbai review.
The Check In
As we arrived an hour before the 2.00 pm check-in time we experienced a slight delay. The person at my counter was courteous and tried his best to give us a room as quickly he could. They never even raised the issue of our early arrival. When I got my key it was for 28th floor. The view from my room made up for any minor delay that happened at the check-in.
I was favorably impressed by the staff of the hotel. They were courteous at all times. If they would meet me in the corridors they would always greet me cheerfully. There was an issue with my key card, it would not work in the middle lift. When that happened first I was a bit confused. When I presented my problem to the front desk staff they requested if I could use the other lifts and I was fine with it.
The hotel looks quite posh and upmarket at the first glance and I sustained the same impression throughout my stay.
I had a gorgeous room with single beds. It was a large and well appointed room. There was a big flat screen TV with many channels. There was a mini bar in the room but a rule I stay away from minibars as they are so deadly expensive. The bed was comfortable, the pillows soft. They gave 4 half liter water bottles with compliments which was a good thing. There was a lot of tea (Twinings) in the room which has always been the best feature of any hotel in my dictionary. There was a fruit tray in the room which had apples. The work table was huge. There was a comfortable chair in the room as well to laze around.
And then this was the view from my room. I could happily sit on the large window sill and watch the world go by from my room.
The bathroom was huge. It could be used as an open bathroom but there was a partition which could be drawn as well. The bath tub was comfortable. The amenities in the bathroom were nice and what you would expect in a five star property. The only omission I saw was a weighing machine in the bathroom. There was ample hot water and the water pressure was good.
The only meal that I had at the hotel was the complimentary breakfast, They had a huge breakfast spread. I went in for South Indian fare and it was quite good. If you ordered something from the egg or dosa counter, you could tell your tabel number and it would be served to you. At the breakfast table I asked for Masala Chai and soon people sitting near me also started demanding the same. I can drink tea in various forms, including black, but if I had a choice I would take Masala Chai every time. I also ate namkeen vermicelli and it was done quite well. Overall, they have a good breakfast spread.
The Swimming Pool
I used the hotel swimming pool in the morning. At about 7.30 am I had the whole pool to myself. Attached to the changing room are jacuzzi, sauna and steam. The lady attendant who was present was very polite. The water felt a little cold in the morning but after a while I got used to it. It was fun to swim a few laps the first thing in the day.
The hotel has an upmarket feel to it but no snootiness when it comes to service. The lobby is grand and there was live music at night. The lifts are fast and the floor access is through the room key. The convention rooms are at the 8th floor. The lobby floral arrangements and the curios are quite pleasing to the eye.
This and That
The Palladium Hotel Mumbai has a rooftop bar Asilo. Hotel guests can go there without reservation but otherwise they expect a reservation. I went there to click a few pictures. I told the staff that I simply wanted to click a few pictures and they were cool with it. There are glass panels all around but still the view is quite amazing. When I was checking out I requested an hour’s extension which they happily granted us. It is small things like these that matter a lot to me.
My stay at Palladium Hotel Mumbai was booked by Tourism Authority of Thailand.
Both Chhavi and I were quite tired by the time we reached The Apple Blossom Fagu which is a HPTDC hotel. She perked up seeing snow on the side. I was happy that she found something to look forward to in spite of being tired. We spent three nights there and The Apple Blossom Fagu review is based on our personal experience when it had low occupancy in February 2015.
The Check In: We had a smooth check-in as there was no one else arriving that late in the evening. The staff took my luggage to the room. Rakesh the kind person that he was, he quickly switched on the heater correctly guessing that we were cold.
First Impressions: The room was big and spacious. However, it had a carpet as well. Now as a rule I do not like carpets because many hotels do not keep it clean and the room stinks. At the Apple Blossom the carpet was certainly old but they managed to keep it clean, so the room had no funny smell. After that I started breathing a little easy. As the weather was cold they had provided a thick quilt.
The Room: The room had a comfortable double bed with clean linen. It had a mirror and a dressing table, table and chairs for food and a work table. There were side tables by the bed as well which is very handy to dump things like mobile phone, books earrings etc just before going to sleep. However what stumped me was the lack of plug points for charging. In the room the TV socket was the only option for charging gadgets. There was a functional plug point in the bathroom too.
I took the lowest category room and it was a big, clean and functional room. I have no major complaints.
The Bathroom: The bathroom was once again absolutely clean. The amenities were sparse, it had two clean towels, two sachets of shampoo, two small soap bars and bucket and mugs. There was a shower too which we didn’t try. There was plenty of hot water so we were good for our entire stay.
The Food: The hotel has an in-house restaurant and we had all our meals there. They made excellent soup, parathas, paneer, french fries and noodles. They make Maggie too! However the cheese omelet was just about OK. The food was always fresh and as good as homemade food. They were happy to serve the food in the room at night as it would get quite cold out there. They make good tea.
The Ambience: The hotel has a huge courtyard at the back which is an excellent place to sit on a sunny day and do nothing. In a shady area there was a reasonable deposit of snow which was the favorite place for kids to muck about! From this courtyard you can take an exit and start exploring the nearby hillocks.
This and That: I guess on two nights Chhavi and I were the only guests at the hotel. The staff was so well behaved that at no point I ever felt unsafe. I ordered room service for all three dinners and I could confidently do so.
The hotel would get quite busy at lunch time as cabs stop with their guests who were exploring places around Shimla.
Their location is excellent but then government hotels usually have the advantage of the location. There are many birds around the hotel. The bird in the picture is a rock bunting.
The Verdict: If you are looking for a clean and no frills hotel, you would enjoy your stay at The Apple Blossom Fagu. I will happily stay there again. The only thing I want is more plug points in the room, preferably next to the side tables by the bed. If that is not possible then near the work table so that people can charge their various gadgets easily.