My family and I stayed for five nights at Villa Shanti in April 2012. It was a wild card booking for us as we had long been planning to visit Pondicherry and were aiming to stay at Hotel de l'Orient or Hotel Dupleix. But then, on Trip Advisor, we saw more favourable reviews for the newly opened Villa Shanti and decided to take a gamble. From the moment I contacted Villa Shanti by email, the service was excellent. The very friendly Thamimul quickly arranged our reservation and booked a taxi to collect us from Chennai airport at the ungodly hour of 3:30 am, when our flight got in from London. The taxi was easy and took two and a half hours at a cost of 3500 rupees. We had not booked the night before and arrived at 7:15 am. The hotel staff were incredibly kind in letting us check straight into our room at no extra charge: an amazing gesture and a welcome one, since we could barely stand up by that point. The room was spotlessly clean and was kept spotlessly clean by housekeeping the whole time we were there. The hotel is petite, fresh, modern, light, relaxing and reminded us at times variously of hotels in Los Angeles/ Miami and also of riads we have stayed in when visiting Morocco (Villa Shanti's rooms all open Moroccan style onto a lavishly green courtyard where breakfast and dinner are served). Our room was simple, with gorgeous tiling and beautifully furnished. The bed was very comfortable, with immaculately clean bedding. The hotel set up what I can only describe as the most elegant and stylish child bed we had ever seen: a small wooden bed painted a gorgeous colour. The shower was excellent: powerful and refreshing. The hotel, apparently came about when two previous properties: Villa Helena and Shanti guesthouse were bought and combined and beautifully designed and converted by a pair of French architects. The conversion is stunning: every detail was thought through and the finish on the building is outstanding. The hotel staff are all very friendly and respect both your space and privacy: they achieve the amazing effect of making you feel as though Villa Shanti is temporarily your home. Along with Thamimul, two very friendly female managers were always on reception and effortlessly arranged trips to Auroville and a nearby temple dedicated to the god Hanuman. Breakfast was delicious and flexible: baskets of French baguette and pastries, served with fresh fruit and excellent coffee. The two men who served breakfast were exceptionally easy going and kind and always generous. When I mentioned that when we travel, my wife and I love to eat what locals eat, they bent over backwards to have the chef prepare a different South Indian breakfast each morning: introducing us to the delights of Poori and Pongal. We had lunch and dinner at various local heritage hotels while we were there, such as Maison Perumal (very good), Hotel Dupleix (not very good), Hotel De L' Orient (okay) and none of them serve food as delicious as the food the chef prepares at Villa Shanti. Even La Caravelle at Maison Rouge, which serves very good food, could not touch Villa Shanti. We had three dinners at Villa Shanti and they were all very, very good: freshly prepared food, good service and a lovely atmosphere. The hotel is well placed for seeing the best of Pondicherry on Rue Suffren, a few minutes walk from Maison Rouge/ La Caravelle, Hotel Dupleix and a short walk or rickshaw ride from the Manakula Temple (where Lakshmi the elephant blesses people with a trunk kiss to their heads), Aurobindo ashram (a beautiful place to visit), Immaculate Conception cathedral on Mission Street (enchanting: almost Mexican in its colours), the frenetic shopping fever of Nehru street and the seafront promenade. The hotel also has chairs and tables set up on the various floors, outside rooms and we enjoyed quite a few teas sitting up outside our room overlooking the courtyard. The bar/ cafe area has a large selection of magazines for guests to enjoy: a nice touch we've only ever experienced before while staying at Andre Balazs' Chateau Marmont hotel in Los Angeles. At the end of our five night stay, we were sad to leave: Pondicherry is an enchanting town and Villa Shanti is an enchanting base from which to explore it.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The latest Heritage hotel of Pondicherry. Located in the hearth of the old French town, near the business area, in front of State bank of India, close to the seaside and the Aurobindo Ashram, this old 19th-century house has been renovated and a new contemporary wing has been added. With its clean lined interiors, craftsmanship, woodwork, Villa Shanti brings you a new experience in town. ... more less
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