This was supposed to be the over-night halt between our drive from Manali to Delhi.
After having spent the last two days at "Crescent River Side Resort - Manali, (Refer to my report of the same), we were hoping to have a equally restful and pleasant stay here as our agent had booked us a "three bedded suite" at this place. Little did we know of the multiple shocks we were in for.
The hotel, if it can be called so, was located in a very shady part of the Sector 22-C, flanked by a couple of car workshops and spare parts dealers. As we reached around 7.30 pm, these shops were already closed, leaving the area / access in more or less complete darkness. A couple of drunks and loiterers pointed out to a staircase leading upwards towards the first floor of the block. There was no signage to guide us (we later found that a faded neon board was indeed perched atop the building, but only one of its dozen odd tubelights actually worked) and the atmosphere seemed so dark that I thought it better to leave my family in the safe confines of the car and check out the property on my own.
The reception desk was manned by a waiter in a stained and grubby uniform who could not manage a word of english or figure out that I had made a booking almost 45 days in advance. He turned the register around, professing his faith in the old proverb "self help is the best help", and I could see my name there, one of the only two there for the day. His hail drew another chappie (in a eqally grubby uniform) who led me up another floor to what was supposed to be my "de-luxe suite", the best in their hotel.
A dimly lit pathway and a open stainless steel washbasin across the hallway may define as "de-luxe" for some but was not really my cup of tea. The "suite" consisted of a single medium sized room : heavily brocaded curtains covering one wall (which opened onto a tiny balcony facing another of the residential flats across the street), two double beds (covered with soiled and stained bedsheets of two different shades of yellow), two side-tables (one of them topped with bare ply-board and marks of numerous plates and glasses clearly marked on it) and a sofa set which seemed new enough (with its glass topped table stained with bottle rings). The room was dark, un-ventilated, stuffy and stank of alcohol.
I double timed it back to the so-called reception area and asked for the manager. A young man in shorts and t-shirt showed up : no he did not have a better room to offer - this was his best, and what did I mean by saying that this was a room and not a suite ? He angrily banged his hotel's catalogue down in front of me. "See, there. That is a picture of the room you just saw and there it says "suite" right below it. I am not misleading you. This is what we say and this is what you get'. He was right for one thing : the picture certainly matched the room, right down to the curtains and the sofa, obviously not changed since the day the pictures were taken. The message was clear : take it or leave it.
So I left, saying goodbye to the deposit money paid, and thankful that I had saved my family from spending the night at a place which was probably accustomed to renting rooms by the hour rather than by the day.
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