I was staying here as part of a tour of India with Voyages Jules Verne. First impressions of this hotel upon driving in are extremely good and you'd be forgiven for thinking you were about to stay somewhere lavishly opulent. The impressive exterior entrance portico, the gushing fountains, illuminated gardens, fleet of Rolls Royces and uniformed staff to greet you all looks great. The entrance lobby is as OTT a blingfest as you can get, with Italianate fresco-ed ceiling (actually, it's just wallpaper, you can see the join!), glittering chandeliers, marble columns and OTT wrought iron and gold-leafed banisters.
Apart from an abominably slow check-in, where everybody's passports had to be scanned and then scanned again as they hadn't been properly scanned the first time, thoughts were: Hmm, this is nice.
Unfortunately it all goes downhill pretty quickly once you get upstairs. There's something about the corridors that sort of forewarns you, but it's when you swing open the door to to your room (this was 326) and it smells strongly of damp that puts you off straight away. It seems to be a problem with rooms at the rear of the hotel. By and large, the room itself was ok (yes they are quite small, but that didn't bother me) and well equipped, but the cleaning left a lot to be desired. Dust in the corners, scuffed walls and peeling paint in the damper patches. The back of the bathroom door resembled that of a public lavatory cubicle (indeed, even in India I had been in cleaner public lavatories than this!) covered in stains and marks, including one brown stain (which I wiped off with a wet tissue) I'm quite sure was faeces. The tiles were largely chipped, a leaky showerhead/extension had obviously contributed to a brown gunge which had formed around the head of the bath, the mirror was marked and the frame was covered in stains, the chrome fittings were all smeared and marked (a little polishing with a dry cloth would have sufficed) or rusted. The light above the bath flickered and buzzed in a non-too-electrically-safe kind of way.
Toiletries and accessories were nicely displayed and other useful items such as a comb, toothpaste and toothbrush and bathrobes were provided. Nothing wrong with those.
Bedding was fine, although I was mortified to pull the bedding back on one bed and find it full of black hair. Eeek. The other bed was ok so I slept in that, although a little stained in places, however I think (or hoped) that these had at least been through the wash first!
Either the hotel does not have enough cleaners or the cleaners have slackened off somewhere.
Our excellent guide had I think pulled strings with the hotel to get us upgraded rooms when we stopped here for one further night at the end of the tour. All guests in the party were upgraded to suites this time, so in fairness to the management the hotel were obviously trying hard to make amends. The suites were a good size, but once again (the Maharini suite) smelt damp (again at the rear of the hotel) and there was clear evidence of this around the bottom of the walls, plus more dust around the edges. Marble bathroom this time, and a jacuzzi bath (but still needed more of a clean - I wouldn't have been tempted to bathe in it. Two travel companions were in an Oxford suite and their bathtub actually had big brown marks in it. Nice!). A separate lounge area in the bedroom and also a table and chairs looked nice and inviting. However a previous guest had obviously had a glass of fruit juice, as the dirty glass was still sitting there untouched on the table when I moved in.
A slightly scary feature of the Maharini suite that I should warn you about, is that on the ceiling above the double bed is an oversize painted reproduction of the Mona Lisa. It's huge, equaling the size of the bed itself, and her eyes bore down into your own as you sleep. It's good, but the head I think is a bit too big and the eyes look way too dark around the sides - Mona looks more sinister than anything else in this artwork - and interestingly she has a smoke alarm on her right breast. Waking up in the dark and seeing that above your head could scare the hell out of you.
Now I appreciate I've been scathing of the hotel, and I have to say everything else was fine (food, drink, service, facilities etc) and I have to acknowledge that this is India and those of us who can afford to stay here are the lucky ones. Much of the population live in abject poverty and squalor in poorly built housing and extremely dirty and unhygienic conditions, and yet are a happy, welcoming and smiling people. But all I can say is as a tourist, you tend to find hotel standards and peoples expectations of a hotel are pretty consistent worldwide: Some of the hotels used on our tour were quite basic, but all were scrupulously clean except this one. And given it's rating, facilities, services and that it obviously tries to appeal to Western travelers, it needs to up its standards considerably.
Ask for a room at the front of the hotel, overlooking the pool. The view from the back is a bit ugly...
See more room tips
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.