This so called heritage hotel has finally been stripped of any vestiges of history, charm and service.
My grandparents got engaged here in the 1940s and I last visited in 2001 when it still had a little something about it.
Now it has really lost its way.
Arrival is charmless - the once grand arrival guest were granted by beautifully dressed staff is now a pseudo military exercise.
Granted security at any large city hotel after the Mumbai attacks especially one in the Taj Group does understandably mean security but teh way the Connnemara has done it has ruined it.
The door way is really awkward and the silly security guard uniforms serve no purpose - Bring back the beautiful bearers in turbans.
Once inside, if you arrive of an evening, the glistening foyer which is beautiful will be filled with the beats from the worst of club music coming from the adjacent bar. Why ruin that foyer which is the best looking part of the hotel with tacky noise pollution.
The room we had was clean and comfy but was pokey and came with the constant hum of air conidtioners on the roof of the Verandah restaurant - all rooms anywhere near the the verandah will have this noise.
I really don't want a massive transfer sticker of a giant mosquito staring at me from the window warning me not open it. The bathrooms were clean-ish - no fault of the housekeeping staff who did a great job - just that the fittings getting a bit long in the tooth.
The once traditional barbers where many an international cricketer went for a hot towel shave has been replaced by a cheap looking hairdressing salon that wouldn't look out of place at the wrong end of a British high street - no style.
Also gone is the live Bharatanatyam dancing which made the restaurant in the garden a must.
I mystified by reports here that people consider this place 'heritage' apart form the shell which isn't much to look at most is 1990s modern.
The pool used to be beautiful but now it looks tired and the gardens not so beautifully kept.
We only ate at the Connemara for a couple of breakfasts but they have an embarrasing thing going on with the service which I try to recount here without being rude to the staff who were only trying to do there best.
Guest who are mid way through a mouthful of breakfast dont want to explain to interested staff where they have come from, where they are visiting, what they do for a living. It's fine out on the street or in cheaper digs but not when you are trying to eat and relax in a smart top end hotel.
At one breakfast our meal was interupted three times by seperate staff who wanted to chat. None of the domestic guest got the same quizzing. We spoke to a local businessman friend about this and he described it as 'over hospitalising' which is spot on. Training needed.
The real killer for the Connemara is that is you spend five minutes looking at other hotels in Chennai you will find much, much better for the same money or less.
On this latest visit we had a second booking at the Connemara on our way back via Chennai - we cancelled it in favour of staying at the Raintree on Anna Salai - price was the same, included free wifi and airport transfer and the food was a mile above the connemara offering- see seprate review for this first class hotel. Also looking good for similar money is the Hyatt - super modern but fabulous.
Meanwhile Taj group need to take a serious look at what they are doing with the historic Connemara spot. I hope they can turn it around.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Vivanta by Taj - Connemara, Chennai is the city's only heritage hotel, built in 1854 as the Imperial Hotel, renamed Albany in 1886, finally re-established as The Connemara in 1890. It was an Art Deco look that the Connemara sported when it ‘reopened’ in 1937. And the legendary architect Geoffrey Bawa added his touch to the tower block and linking pool in 1974. Today, it is infused with the spirited style of Vivanta by Taj. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Vivanta By Taj - Connemara, Chennai Hotel Chennai (Madras)
- Hotel Taj Connemara Chennai