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Review of Windamere Hotel

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Windamere Hotel
Ranked #10 of 100 Hotels in Darjeeling
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed February 11, 2014

Sadly this did not live up to reviews we had read or our expectations. I think it is tired and has had its day, before it can be called one of the best colonial hotels in India again it need a lot of work.. It was 2009 it was given this title.
It was cold and even heaters plugged in couldn't keep out the cold partly because the insisted on keeping communal area windows open. A fire was lit in the bedroom at night and hot water bottles put in the bed. Thank goodness for that. But by morning the room was cold again. The carpets were all looking dirty and in need of a clean.
The dining room was candlelit and food served was like a poor school dinner. It said 5 courses, but really with a soup, I'm sure made from a packet, one British main and one Indian main, both served, a dreadful pudding and a coffee, at the most this is three courses. Plus a 1930's cd played on a loop became very tiresome. In the lounge after dinner no one appeared to serve us a drink from the bar and we could not find anyone to do so.
Afternoon tea disappointed, sandwiches of an indeterminate nature wrapped in cling film as was the scones, generic jam, a victoria sponge, which actually tasted nice and some biscuits. A pretty poor offering. When I requested a coffee I was given it minus a saucer. It was difficult to get a second cup as staff were not very attentive. On asking for tea in the room, which was featured as a service, we were told we couldn't have a scone or cake as lunch was being served. Not even a biscuit was sent with it.
Breakfast fared no better. No one in the kitchen seemed to know how to cook eggs. Sunny side up came almost raw, second morning I opted for over easy, this came hard, and strangely with cold mashed potato and a sausage. Something has gone wrong in the kitchen.
It started off as mildly quaint and amusing but by the third day we were glad to be moving on.
Our hopes for this place were misplaced and unless some changes are made, in every aspect including staff training I think sadly people will stay away. The people we met while there all felt the same way as we did. We could not recommend it to anyone.
Think it has had it's day.

  • Stayed: February 2014, traveled as a couple
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9  Thank flemingmuir
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Elizabeth C, Owner at Windamere Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded February 24, 2014

This may be a rather long response, but I will try and précis my writing. This guest stayed in our main house - Ada Villa - where the tea planters used to stay for months on end, during the Raj era. Apparently, she stayed in one of our top suites, which has been frequented by the former Princess of Siam (and latterly, the Princess of Thailand). The carpets are vacuumed daily and shampooed weekly. They are of top Indian rug quality - I know them intimately, as they were bought as new during the last year. We have had aristocracy, top corporate guests and diplomats stay here - never have I seen comments such as these to date. However, I am the first the say that we welcome feedback, even if we disagree with some of it. A heritage/colonial destination is not for everyone, as by its very nature it is not "modern". No two rooms/suites are the same. Our guests stay with us in a "home". To answer this guest's complaints: there is no "communal window" and during what is one of our coldest months in the mountains, it is not left open. This beautiful suite has a coal fireplace and two electric/oil storage radiators. There is no central heating in this region, but most guests tell us that what with the fire, the heaters, the hot water bottles and also the thick quilts and blankets, they are normally as "warm as toast". To be fair, guests from very warm climates may have a slight problem in adjusting to a cooler environment for the first day or so. Although, yet again, I must comment on the fact that the guests' comments are personal and their own and we accept them, but I really do have to say that if the reader scrolls down the T.A. page, they will see many agreeable comments on our food. We never, never use packaged soup - never! Our soups are legendary and are completely home-made (from scratch), with ingredients bought daily from the local market. The puddings are also well known, along with the coffee. The comment on the 1930's CD is rather unfair, I feel. We are from that era - surely? How on earth can 5 x CDS loop around at the same time? The bar service I apologise for. This is unusual, but I apologise anyway. The Afternoon Tea is made fresh from our bakery every day. The items arrive from the latter to 'Daisy's Music Room' under cling wrap, due to hygiene rules (as they are carried on trays from the kitchen, outside on our patio and then into the Afternoon Tea area. Once the tea commences at 4 p.m., the wrap is taken off - thus keeping the freshness secure. We serve: 2 x choices of finger sandwiches; scones, with butter, jam and cream. biscuits; another pastry (or bun) and a cake. Comments are usually that there is too much to eat! We have been written up on our Afternoon Tea, but again, I accept the personal comments of this guest. Tea and a biscuit in the room is always given, so I am not at all sure what happened here. I have questioned our F&B Manager about the eggs, as well as the waiter involved . We do know how to make many varieties of eggs - however, in this case, I feel that "over easy" was not prepared correctly and I sincerely apologise for this. A picture was offered by this guest regarding the food on her plate - it should be noted that our food is served from the serving dishes on the waiter's tray, but is displayed by the guest on the actual plate (meaning, that the guest takes the food from the serving dishes and places it on to the plate). I am very sorry that this guest did not appear to like us at all and this I accept. I can assure the reader that I have gone into this complaint very thoroughly and have tried to respond likewise. Heritage is not for everyone. Windamere was completely restored a few years ago and we take its upkeep and maintenance very seriously.Thank you for letting us know. Feedback is always welcomed and taken very seriously.

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198 - 204 of 333 reviews

Reviewed January 9, 2014

My husband and I stayed at Windamere in December 2012. It was our first time in Darjeeling. As it was an impromptu trip it was only at the Guwahati Airport that my husband started exploring hotels in Darjeeling. He wanted to give me a surprise as we were to celebrate my birthday there. He homed onto a couple of options and called them to ask what special they could arrange for his wife's birthday :) Only Windamere seemed to respond positively. Moreover, considering my love for heritage properties my husband was all the more keen on Windamere. I had no clue where we were headed as we touched down at Bagdogra Airport and hailed a cab for Darj. As we entered the hotel, I was taken by the great location and the colonial aura of the place. The staff was really courteous and prompt. It didn't take us more than a few minutes to check into our room. Unlike any other hotel room, the room at Windamere felt so warm and welcoming because of the cozy setting, the floral furnishing, the fireplace, etal. The tea was an experience in itself. As we entered the tea lounge, the sumptuous spread of small bites and nibbles fit for a royal tea party welcomed us along with a smiling and impeccably turned out tea maid or ‘kanchhi’ who hailed us into the cozy tea lounge. The room filled with the beautiful natural light, warm with the fireplace and comfortable sofas was such a respite after the tiring flight and uphill drive. We filled our plates with the dainty sandwiches and scones with cream and jam and washed it all down with a cup of exquisite Darjeeling tea all the while admiring the black and white photographs displayed on the walls and the ones carefully kept in the old albums. What a start, I must say! We had a session of chit chat with fellow guests who happened to be regulars. The dinner was a splendid mix of continental and Indian dishes served by courteous bearers in a beautiful candlelit setting complete with lovely instrumental music playing in the background. I must tell you about my Birthday celebration as thats what I began the review with. As we were out the whole day, evening was the time to celebrate! After some lovely champagne at the well-stocked bar, we headed for dinner. As we were halfway through our dinner, a bearer walked to our table with a chocolate cake and as I got up to do the honours and my husband started singing the birthday song, the whole dining room full of guests joined him in full gusto. It was so heartening. I was already feeling overwhelmed when the Director of the hotel, a distinguished middle-aged lady walked to our table with a bouquet of flowers and a Buddhist ‘khata’ symbolizing respect and goodwill. It was such a thoughtful gesture from the hotel’s side. A few more little details are worth mentioning. The maid who comes to make your bed before you retire and the hot water bottles covered in the soft woolen covers placed at the foot of the bed or the ‘fire boy’ making sure your fireplace is well stocked to keep you warm throughout the night and a lot more. It’s commendable how the smallest details right from the dresses to the decor are so well coordinated and carried out effortlessly. With all this you are sure to feel like a British tea planter or an Indian prince in the days of yore looked after with quiet perfection at a stately boarding house. I must commend and congratulate the staff of the hotel for keeping and maintaining the flavor and feel of the place close to its original glory. And thank you for a memorable birthday! I would love to come back.

  • Stayed: December 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Shachi_Jayal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 30, 2013

it's a late review, I've being there on april 2011
one can feel the ambience of the colonial period, british till the end……
it's a village with different buildings and the rooms are located in those "houses" which used to be for the tea traders in the hills.
the service is very personal, get into your room at a cold evening and find the fire place on!!!!! priceless.
the restaurant is very good and at night its candle light and french service!! fancy hu!
the spa is very good, a little expensive for india standards but good.
you can go out by walking, there is a beautiful commercial area just behind the hotel and and incredible Temple after the spa area.

  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled with friends
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3  Thank MEdelstein
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 29, 2013

The hotel has an excellent position overlooking the Valleys on Observatory Hill with incredible views of the surrounding countryside. The rooms are well-appointed and comfortable with the in-room water heaters. The room was large with a shared veranda. The staff are very courteous and friendly-always smiling. The meals are excellent. Entering Windamere is like being enveloped in a great big hug. Toasty coal fires in your room, delicious food, hot water bottles, afternoon tea, many comfortable seating areas and warm hospitality. I LOVE this place.

Room Tip: Anything is good in this hotel
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  • Stayed: October 2013, traveled with family
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2  Thank rashidsk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 10, 2013

We spent a month travelling around India and staying in budget hotels but this was our treat and what a treat it was. We stayed in the colonial suite which was wonderful with a superbly comfortable bed (with hot water bottles) and beautiful open fire. The room and bathroom were perfectly clean and the furnishings were very authentic, we felt like we were in the Lake District. The food is plentiful and we spent most of the time eating! The continental options were boring but then we didn't go to India to eat pasta and we found the Indian options to be delicious, especially the fish curry. The scones at afternoon tea were a delight, especially when you return to your room to find the fire lit! I would recommend this hotel to everyone!

  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Poppy612
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 8, 2013

Recently spent 2 nights at this charming, olde worlde hotel in Darjeeling, as part of a 2 week trip around India. We turned up on spec, but we were quickly convinced that we had made the right choice. Whilst it may seem comparatively expensive for Indian accommodation, the overall experience and quality of stay justifies this in my opinion. The rooms are large and decorated with antique furniture, with a very homely feel. The shower was the best I encountered anywhere in India, the beds were luxuriously soft and comfortable, sleep quality was fabulous. Perched atop the Observatory hill it's a real haven away from the noise and bustle of Indian towns that can sometimes be a bit stressful. The food quality and service in the restaurant was exemplary, the setting superb. Afternoon tea, with a slice of cake or a scone, was another highlight, as was the open fire in the room, set by a member of staff ready for our return to the room after the evening meal. All staff were polite and attentive, at all times, and we left with some great memories of the Windamere. I think you pay as much for the experience as for the quality of food and accommodation but for me it's been totally worthwhile, I thoroughly recommend it.

  • Stayed: December 2013, traveled with friends
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1  Thank ForceTranquille
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 19, 2013

The hotel is situated on the observatory hill just off Chowrasta and above Mal. The main building surrounded by beautiful cottages. The rooms which are mostly suites has antique furniture and even the bathrooms has bathtubs from the British era. All rooms have lovely fireplace and even the sitting rooms have another one of it. They are lit up by the fireman every evening and again coal is loaded and hot water bottles placed in your beds while you are at the Dinning room.
More than the rooms we liked the common areas like lobby, tea room, bar, library and off course the lovely DHR club. They have an excellent feel of the British era clubs with historical pictures and objects all around.
Food which are served in the Dinning room are very good specially we liked the candle lit dinners every night. One such night Governor of Bengal Mr Narayanan with his family visited the hotel to ate dinner and he had it with all of guests of the hotel.
The continental menu served both in Lunch and Dinner is excellent but the Indian items were average.
Finally one thigh I must say that if someone is looking for a modern 5 star hotel with huge buffet breakfasts, central heating and latest amenities then this is not the place. This is the place if you want to stay in a Heritage property and want to feel how the elites used to stay in Darjeeling in pre independence years then this is the place you should be in.

  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled with family
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2  Thank SUBIRGHOSH
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Windamere Hotel

Address: Observatory Hill, Darjeeling 734101, India
Location: India > West Bengal > Darjeeling District > Darjeeling
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#2 Romantic Hotel in Darjeeling
#4 Luxury Hotel in Darjeeling
Price Range: $227 - $271 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Windamere Hotel 4*
Number of rooms: 40
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
We are one of the oldest (and prize winning) Colonial Hotels in India - with reviews from the Asia Pacific National Geographic Magazine and The Sunday Times of London. We offer truly authentic and original suites from the colonial tea planter days, with absolutely FULL BOARD (4 MEALS PER DAY). Our hotel is world renowned, with many famous film stars and other celebrities finding a path to our door. Truly a "destination and not just another hotel". It is like being invited as a private guest and asked to stay and relax for a few days. We are aptly described as "one of the last Colonial Homes in the World". We have both Colonial Suites & Cottages, as well as standard and superior accommodation. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Windamere Hotel Darjeeling

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