I spent three weeks travelling around Northern India, staying in a mixture of Taj and Oberio hotels plus 'heritage' small hotels. Of the big chain hotels, all provided immaculate service as you would expect at this level but it was impersonal. Staff had been trained to smile, to ask if there was anything you needed. However, at the Cecil the feeling was entirely different. The smiles were there but seemed genuine and warm. Nothing was too much trouble, any request was met with instant attention. For example, my husband had planned on taking the narrow gauge train down for a few stops as the scenery from the train is famous and the experience said to be .... 'ineresting'. One of the charming receptionists, Nehar had been chatting about our plans for the day and I had told her about his proposed trip just as he set off in the hotel car which takes you down to their parking garage close to the station. When he arrived at the garage the attendant handed him the phone. On learning our plans Nehar had gone to the trouble to call the station to check ticket availability, which had never occurred to us, and found that none were available so wanted to save him the walk to the station and disappointment. That is what I call going that extra mile. Also noteworthy was the food. The chef, Arun Katocha made a habit of coming out of the kitchen to chat to guests, discuss their preferences and twice created dishes purely to our tastes. They were delicious and of very high quality.
The hotels location is about half an hours walk from the traffic free Mall, and all uphill, but at least that means it's all downhill on the way back! The roads to the Mall are severely restricted to traffic. We noticed a couple of hotels actually within the Mall area, but nothing of Oberoi standard. As we had a driver we did not experience a problem as he could take us along the main road which is not restricted to traffic and drop us off at the public lift which takes you up to the Mall.
Views from the hotel are spectacular. Our room was on the front overlooking the road and carpark but even so we had a view beyond that to mountains. Rooms on the back would have unrestricted mountain vistas. Our only concern about our room which was large and comfortable was that the hairdryer wire pulled free and on investigation it had been attached to a connector with sticky tape. Not very safe wiring anywhere, particularly in a bathroom but I have to admit it seems to be standard in India. And during our stay several families with small children were also resident.The building has a central atrium the height of the building with all rooms having their doors opening off internal balconies around that, It is marble floored and a stunning feature but parents did seem prone to allowing their small children to run off their energy in the morning around the balconies which then echoed and disturbed our sleep. Perhaps we were unlucky in our fellow residents and you can hardly expect a hotel to instruct parents to discipline their children.
My only real complaint is not specific to this hotel but the overall policy of Oberoi to charge for WiFi access. It costs them nothing, but they levy a hefty fee, far from nominal which is pure profiteering and I can't understand why when service to guests in all other areas appears to take priority.
I would love to return to India, particularly Shimla and the only hotel there I would consider would be the Cecil.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The hotel is located in Shimla, the gateway to the majestic Himalayas. Downtown Hotel with Colonial styling, 1 km from Shimla Station & 22 km from Jubalhatti-Shimla Airport. The Hotel is situated at the quite end of the famous Mall and is an ideal base from which to discover the unique beauty of the spectacular Himalayan ranges, Cedar forests and ancient monasteries. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Oberoi Cecil - Shimla Hotel Shimla
- Oberoi Shimla
- Shimla Oberoi