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“Damned by faint praise”

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The Gateway Hotel Ganges Varanasi
Ranked #4 of 80 Hotels in Varanasi
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed April 10, 2012

We were guests of the Gateway while visiting Varanasi in February 2012 It is allegedly one of the best, if not the best, Varanasi has to offer, but if that is so, it is damned by faint praise.

The hotel is a member of the Taj group but is not a Taj hotel. I understand (perhaps incorrectly) that it formerly enjoyed this status but was demoted. If that is true, it was a wise decision. The hotel is very shabby in many areas and seems to be suffering from a lack of maintenance. The service that is expected with a Taj property is also lacking. It is neither a 5 nor 4 star establishment.

Security is exceptional, a fact not surprising given the problems in Mumbai. It was the only hotel in which we stayed while in India that had retractable pillars at the entrance. There were also the more typical x-ray machines and metal detectors.

We had booked and paid for in advance through our travel company SITA a non-smoking room. Nevertheless, we were initially placed in a room that reeked of smoke. We presented ourselves at the front desk and complained. We were told that the hotel was full and the smoking room could be converted into a non-smoking one without moving us. Huh? We are opposed to any measures that involve spraying chemicals to absorb or mask odours. Moreover, we would still be on a stinky, toxic smoking floor. We asked to speak to the room manager who agreed to look into the matter. We were tired and said we would wait in the bar. He escorted us there.

The bar is quite small but bright and pleasant. Service was friendly and gracious. After approximately 45 minutes the manager returned, confirmed the room did smell badly of smoke and advised he had found us a non-smoking room. Our drinks were not comped by the hotel, certainly a sign of poor service. The room was comfortable although very worn, dingy, and shabby. The carpets in the room and floor corridors are in a disgraceful state-thread bare, stained, and filthy looking.

Breakfast is good with a large variety of foods, both western and Asian. Service is friendly but harried. The hotel is extremely busy. Again the room is shabby and in poor repair. Staff has not been properly trained. We observed a waitperson setting cutlery on outdoor tables. Trays containing cutlery covered with bird droppings were placed on a ledge opposite our indoor table in our plain view. Most distasteful.

We dined in the hotel’s fine dining restaurant Varuna on two nights. We had had reservations at another place for the second night, but the food was so delicious, we cancelled and ate in the hotel again. This was the very best food we had in India. Despite the room’s more formal ambiance, guests present in assortment of clothes and one can certainly dress casually, although we did not.

Grounds are extensive and appeared to be well manicured. The property is definitely an oasis in a busy, dirty city.

The hotel is also popular with locals. On our last night, a wedding took place. Our room faced the driveway in which the procession marched so we observed the spectacle of drummers, the well dressed and costumed entourage, and the groom riding an elephant. Truly a special experience for us despite the noise.

We are ambivalent about the hotel but in the final analysis cannot recommend except for a good rate.

  • Stayed: February 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Fearful
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed April 10, 2012

Our tour operator wanted us to stay at a place on the Ghats but thank goodness we insisted on coming here! Most of the staff were fantastic and gave us a special cake and a single red rose when we told them we were having a sort of marriage blessing in India.

The Xmas Gala Dinner was included in our price but was charged again and it took our rep to sort it out. All the staff were asking us to fill in forms to grade them which got a bit excessive but it was a great experience.

  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled as a couple
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Thank DianafromShropshire
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 10, 2012

The hotel was very similar to the excellent Taj Hotel in Agra, with the same extensive menus and popular coffee shop style restaurant. We had a lovely room with Indian styling. There were huge grounds with lots of flower beds and a farm, a big swimming pool with ample seating all around. We found it to be a peaceful haven in the noise and hubbub of Varanasi.

  • Stayed: March 2012, traveled with friends
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Thank onemoreglobetrotter
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 6, 2012

They bill themselves as a 5 star---having come from the Taj in Delhi, this place is an overpriced and worn out 2 star. Yes, it may be the best hotel in Varanasi but the Taj group needs to do something about this place as it is an embarrassment to the brand. The beds are old and lumpy, the room was dingy, the restuarants ordinary and overpriced with prices comparable to North America. The place is old and dirty. Western tourists may have limited options in Varanasi but they should go prepared for what I have just described. I will add that the staff are friendly but average in service, certainly not at a 5star level

  • Stayed: April 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank randltrip
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 4, 2012

i stayed with my friends here during my last visit to Varanasi.The palace is not as grand as some other properties but still good option to stay.pool area is wonderfull.
The food is incredible and the service is great. Prices are very reasonable.

  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled on business
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2  Thank ritesh_amantra
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 30, 2012

This is a nice hotel in a rough town. We would not trade our Varanasi experience for anything and don’t expect to come back. If we did, we would likely get a little braver and find something more in touch with the experience. Make no mistake, this is a nice hotel. It is clean. It is quiet. It is well secured. But you might as well be in Pittsburg once you pass the guarded gates, because it is one world (Varanasi) outside of them, and another world (The Gateway) inside. The room was clean, well appointed and very comfortable after a day in town. The restaurant was okay but not great. Our friends ate at the outdoor buffet and reported it was vastly overpriced and not so much better than average. We found the service in all areas of the hotel to be underwhelming and on the edge of condescending. This hotel has very definite advantages. Varanasi is an intense place and the hotel gives you a break. I can’t say I didn’t appreciate it. Having said that, I also felt somewhat taken for granted and got that “boy, aren’t something special” attitude – when it really isn’t that special of a place – it’s just nice for where it is.

Room Tip: We only stayed in ours.
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  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank JAMES O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 20, 2012

After a harrowing ride from the airport we arrived at a guarded entrance to tranquility. The Gateway was clean,well appointed and provided responsive service with a smile. Comfortable beds and pillows along with a great shower. We ate dinner at the outside grill. The sauces were tasty without overpowering and you couldn't stop eating the grilled Nam bread. The next day I had a pizza in the lobby and it was very tasty. They offer a buffet but that seemed better suited to the tour groups of which there were quite a few. The massages were professional and included a steam. We were given an extra hour for check out, walked the grounds, and enjoyed the spacious lobby where you can buy wood painted bracelets for a few dollars!

Room Tip: High floor toward back of hotel...however, ask if they are having a party back there...we got the qu...
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  • Stayed: March 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank ZephyrFreeway
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Gateway Hotel Ganges Varanasi

Address: Nadesar Palace Grounds | Cantonment, Varanasi 221002, India (Formerly Taj)
Phone Number:
Location: India > Uttar Pradesh > Varanasi District > Varanasi
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 80 Hotels in Varanasi
Price Range: $106 - $336 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — The Gateway Hotel Ganges Varanasi 5*
Number of rooms: 130
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Group-oriented mid-rise hotel centrally located on Raja Bazar Road at Nadesar Palace Grounds, on the banks of the Varuna River. ... more   less 
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