Date of Stay: 13 March - 15 March 2014
A bit about us: We are a 57 year old "Mum" and 34 year old "Daughter" who regularly travel together. This was our first visit to India - a whirlwind four week trip taking in Delhi, Rajasthan, Agra, Varanasi and Kolkata. We did a LOT of research both online and via guidebooks, arranging and booking the whole trip ourselves, from flights to trains to hotels to car hire!
Our travels would put us in Delhi both at the start and at the end of our tour through Rajasthan. We had worked out the sights we wanted to see whilst in Delhi and determined they really fit in to two distinct zones - Old Delhi, and the area south of the New Delhi station. To minimise our need for transport, and to maximise our sightseeing, we decided to split our time, starting with 2 days sightseeing in Old Delhi - we wanted a reasonably priced, clean hotel close to the “important” sights of Old Delhi.
Our Experience: We booked a Super Deluxe room online via the Agoda website, with the price inclusive of breakfast and free airport pickup (available from the International Airport only). The Agoda website indicated that the Super Deluxe room was available with 2 single beds / 1 double bed / 3 single beds / 1 king bed with the room type to be requested as part of the booking - being a Mum and Daughter travelling together, we requested 2 single beds.
We arrived at the Indira Gandhi International Airport via Indigo Airlines from Bangkok just after 3:30pm where we were met by a driver holding our names (we had quite honestly forgotten we had provided flight details and had not expected the pick-up, so had already purchased our prepaid taxi coupon - on the urging of our driver we returned to the taxi counter and were readily given a full refund with a smile - only one of us was allowed in as you’re not generally allowed back in the terminal once you’ve exited, and a passport had to be left with the guards who did allow the entrance after much pleading and explaining).
The journey to the Old Delhi started along wide, well kept roads. As we got closer to Old Delhi the quality and the width of the roads started to deteriorate, and the amount of traffic of all shapes and sizes increased! The last 3-4 kilometers of the trip took as long as the first 18km had taken. Once we had navigated the traffic, and passed by the congested markets on the streets around the hotel, we were dropped on the bustling street just near a sign proclaiming Hotel Tara Palace.
The Hotel is down a very narrow alleyway, too narrow for vehicles, which is why we were not dropped at the door - we knew this from our research so it was no surprose! Being down this alley provided excellent insulation from the noise of Old Delhi which is a busy, bustling, frenetic place. A very short walk down the clean alley, and we were greeted by a the Hotel’s security guard who held open the door - something that was done every time we approached the hotel.
The lobby area was clean, but quite small, with a couple of comfy chairs and a tv. The Hotel does not have in-room safes, however allows you to register your valuables and store them in the Hotel’s safe - the hotel was very careful to wrap and seal your monies in an envelope and copious amounts of tape, which you then had to sign all over to protect against the seal being broken (this is the same system we encountered all through our travels in Viet Nam a few years ago, and in Laos two years ago).
All of the staff we dealt with at the Hotel were friendly and helpful. Smiles were readily available, from the Manager, to the staff manning the small restaurant, to the boys who cleaned the rooms!
The hotel had a lift, something we were to discover on our travels was quite a luxury. It was a small lift, squishy with a couple of people and a couple of duffle suitcases, but certainly a great alternative to trying to lug your luggage up their very steep staircases!
Up to our room, which was a good size with a tv, a couple of chairs, a low coffee table and a little desk. Our one disappointment was the room did not have twin beds, but a large king bed. We have to say we peeked in a few rooms as we passed by, and did not see any rooms with twin beds, so suspect it may be that these are not available (we can’t confirm this, as we said we didn’t see any rooms with twin beds, however it was certainly advertised on Agoda that the hotel had twin bedded rooms). As we were only staying a couple of nights, and otherwise were very pleased with the room, we decided not to worry about asking for the room to be changed. There were two blankets on the bed, which we separated out to try to have the semblance of space - the staff took note as the next day when the room was cleaned, instead of making the bed up as one, the two blankets were folded neatly separately, one for each of us.
The bathroom was wet room style, quite large and very clean. We found the water pressure to be OK, and there was plenty of hot water. We don’t recall having to run the tap for ages to get hot water, we ran it for a bit, but that’s not an uncommon thing to have to do in even some of the more fancy hotels we’ve stayed in (staying on the 7th floor of a 4 star hotel on Batu Ferringhi in Malaysia meant no water pressure and having to run the tap for ages to get hot water).
On our first night our first stop was off to the open roof top to check out the views we had read so much about. Fabulous! We could see the Red Fort, the Digambar Jain Lal Mandir, the Gauri Shankar Temple, the Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib, and the Jama Masjid.
The hotel does have a little restaurant (the menu is vegetarian only, but plenty to choose from), a hotel room that has been converted in to a clean but bland restaurant with about 4 tables. On request the hotel will readily set up a table on the roof top and serve your meal there - we could not resist, so this is where we ate our first meal in India!
For dinner we enjoyed (prices as at March 2014):
Aloo Gobi Rp105
Vegetable Biryani Rp110
Dal Fry Rp85
Plain Parantha Rp35
Garlic Naan Rp50
We washed our meal down with a 650ml Tuborg Beer (Rp160 - A$2.90) and a Lassi (Rp55 - A$1). Beer is not listed on the menu, something we found very common throughout our time in India, and it will not be listed on your bill as “beer” either (we had various descriptions through our travels, our favourite being “big drink”). We understand this to be something to do with liquor licensing regulations. Though not on the menu you could certainly order at the hotel - if ordering through rooms service it will come to you in its own little “beer-cosy” to disguise what is being carried on the tray.
That dinner was simply the best start to our India trip - sitting on a rooftop with great food (we’ll note we did have far too much food, eyes definitely bigger than our stomachs, and we warn that the little bowls are deceptively big when it comes to serving) and great views.
Breakfast was served in the bland restaurant. There was a set menu included in your room price, plus if you wished you could also order from the a-la-carte menu. The set menu included both Indian and Western options - as we were in India, we chose Indian. Our first morning included Aloo Parantha for one, and Indian fried bread with potato curry for the other (day two we both had the bread with curry as it was yum!).
The location: The hotels address is 419 Esplanade Road, Cycle Market Opposite Red Fort, so is in the market area. The entrance to the alleyway is decorated with an amazing tangle of electrical wires and a rather faded sign for Hotel Tara Palace - yes, it looks a bit scruffy (and perhaps scary - well, to our family in Australia to whom we showed pics found online, but not to we intrepid adventurers) but it is quite okay! The sights we could see from the roof top are very close so the only transport you need is your feet! The amazing, bustling Chadni Chowk area is seconds away.
Some people may say that the area is very dirty - yes, when we arrived it certainly was, BUT, when we headed out early the next morning all the mess had been cleaned up and the day starts all afresh. The rubbish off the streets was collected and deposited in to a rubbish sorting building (a building with 3 walls and a roof not far from the hotel, inside which you’ll see piles of rubbish with people going through and sorting it - taking out recyclables etc).
Old Delhi is amazing. We had read in one of our guidebooks that the only place you should not choose to visit on your first day in India / New Delhi is Old Delhi as it is too much, too overwhelming… It is noisy, smelly (some bad and some, like at the spice market, superb), it’s dirty (sometimes!), and busy, and crazy, and we loved it and could not think of a better place in which to start our India experience!!! Hotel Tara Palace is in the perfect place to be able to step out and enjoy it all.
If we are lucky enough to visit Old Delhi again, we would not hesitate to stay at the Hotel Tara Palace.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Hotel Tara Palace is a friendly hotel which provides comfortable accommodation, free breakfast and free airport pickup. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Tara Palace New Delhi
- Tara Palace Hotel Delhi
- Tara Palace Delhi