The Manimahesh Hotel is located in a quiet part of Dalhousie, near the DFO's residence and the YHAI, overlooking the forested valley and the military cantonment.
The room that we stayed in was tastefully done up with wood panelling and had excellent views of the Pir Panjal range and of the Chamba Kailash peak in the distance.
That is where the good part ends.
Service was terrible, so unlike the excellent, warm service we experienced at the many other HPTDC hotels we stayed at on this trip.
Our room at the Manimahesh was booked on the phone by the Manager at HPTDC's Iravati Hotel in Chamba. We could hear the conversation on the other end, right at that time itself, the reservations clerk at the Manimahesh had an attitude problem as though he was doing a great big favour by accepting the reservation - eventually it turned out that we were one of the only two occupants that day!
When we arrived at the hotel we were checked in with indifference by the receptionist. The porter was courteous however, and the room was more than comfortable.
The menu card had quite a decent variety of cuisines on offer and as we were quite sick of regular Indian hotel food by that time, we asked for some of the continental items. The room service person did not even understand what we were asking for. Eventually he said abruptly in Hindi - Is time mein yeh sub cheezein nahi milenge - At this time, none of these items are available! So we had no choice but to order standard Indian fare.
Worse was to come. The food was stodgy and chapathis turned out to be leather like in texture. Rotis are standard fare in North India, everyone but everyone knows how to make them well. It was inconceivable that any hotel in Himachal Pradesh could dish up such monstrosities. We returned the food half uneaten and swore never to eat there again.
When we complained, the manager lamely said that there was a staff shortage. If that was the case, why were they charging full rates? Even the tea served was luke warm.
For the rest of our stay, we ate at the dhaba at the end of the road, much tastier, fresh and piping hot food. Though we could have stayed an extra day at Dalhousie, we cut short our visit and moved out thanks to the attitude of the Manimahesh staff.
When we checked out, we pointed out an obvious mistake in the bill. The person at reception agreed there was a mistake but the room service man started to rudely argue about it. Eventually the receptionist prevailed but the atmosphere was spoilt.
On this Himachal visit, we stayed at six different HPTDC properties. At all of them except for the Manimahesh, the service was excellent.
HPTDC needs to get its act together fast at the Manimahesh if it wants to retain its overall good image.