Over the years, I have stayed in quite a number of government-run hotels in the mountains. Particularly those run by KMVN and GMVN. They were always great places for a college-kid given their low prices and fantastic locations. Then, a few years back, they raised their prices. I am past that college age, and I can afford a bit more than I used to. Naturally, I also expect a better experince. Sadly, for the price I paid for the Garhwal Terrace, I have returned disappointed. Horribly disappointed. To begin with, the price quoted on their website is exclusive of taxes. So you have to pay that at the counter, in cash. To be fair, they mention that when you are booking. And when I realised how much I would have to pay in all, I knew it was more than what I’d have to pay for the very popular Padmini Niwas Hotel (sadly booked to the brim). And it was almost twice what I paid 5 months ago for the Mussoorie Gateway Resort in April 2012 (but too far from the Mall Road).
It seems the prices have risen, and quality has crashed. I took the Deluxe Room that looked it had been stripped of its furnishings (and a few light fixtures; they had provided towels though, with a few holes). Not to mention that the room itself was right next to the car park - not just this room; all deluxe rooms are on the lowest floor next to the car park. It’s pretty annoying to have people peep in when you’re trying to take a nap, and they don’t reply when you wish them ‘Good Morning’. The hallway was unequally lighted, because quite a few tubelights weren’t working. It reminded me of one of those mental asylums I’ve seen in the movies - long, strangely lit, snaking, corridors with locked doors and a constant sound of water dripping somewhere inside.
Bed tea and breakfast was included in the price. Which meant there was no tea/coffee maker in the room. (I paid Rs. 1100.00 - per day - at Mussoorie Gateway Resort, and they had a tea/coffee maker in the room, which smelled strongly of burnt milk, and had to be replaced.) I ordered egg curry with rice for lunch at their rather delightful and spacious restaurant. I get double the rice at the same price in Delhi; and I don’t get plastic wrappers in the egg curry, ever. And never order the poorie-sabzi for breakfast unless you like your boiled potatoes floating in a watery gravy of red-chillies. (And a tawa roti for Rs. 10.00!)
The people at the desk however are nice. Really nice, and helpful. I have never been to a government-run hotel and come across grumpy receptionists, waiters, or attendents. And they are the sole redeeming feature of these establishments. They are locals, and know the places (and especially the distances) of interest, and can advise you properly.
Sadly though, even with such great people at the deak, and an amazing location, the Garhwal Terrace falls far short of the current standard set by private hotels at its price point. It is not cheap, not for the average middle class. And they have better options to choose from. I have always believed that hotel rooms are only places we got at night to sleep in, but it should not be one you don’t want to go back to at all.