While a lot of travelers are happy to rough it out and make the most of cheap accommodations,( I do it as often as I can as well my bank balance doesn’t always allow for extravagance) I wait for the time when I get to spoil myself and check into a big fancy hotel. If I could I’d probably live in a hotel and never tire of it. I come to Pune so often for work and pleasure and despite the several hotel options, I’ve never stayed in one. This time I decided to take a walk on the wild side and when a rather surprising invitation came my way, I made the most of it and a few days later I found myself soaking up the luxury that is the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel Pune City Centre.
Not to be confused with its big brother the J W Marriott, also located in the city, Courtyard by Marriott Pune City Centre is what I like to call the younger less talked about sibling. It’s more of a business hotel than a luxury one but living up to its name, it comes with all the luxurious strappings of any 5 star hotel.
The rooms start from a basic category right up to the suite. Personally if you ask me even the base category is fully equipped to cater to your every need. Unless of course you want more space incase you’re travelling with family/ kids or you just want a bigger room I think any of the rooms work just fine. My room had everything that is of utmost importance to me. It’s fairly standard stuff in most fancy hotels but sometimes even they miss out and get it wrong.
1. A big comfortable bed I could sink into and by virtue of which I had the best sleep after a really long time.
2.A big beautiful bathroom with a bathtub!! I love tubs, I could live in a tub I could work in a tub I can eat in a tub. I actually soak in them till I prune out and have no choice but to get out. #sigh
3. Wifi in my room that actually works! I know it sounds ridiculous and when on holiday I’m suppose to disconnect and switch off from the world but really who am I kidding? The internet is my world and if you take that away from a blogger you’re pretty much cutting off our air supply. Nothing makes me angrier than hotels which claim they have wifi service but the connectivity is a joke. This was bliss.
4. An Iron! Anyone who knows me well enough, knows that the first thing I ask for is an iron. Even if I’m staying at a friend’s house nothing is more important than an iron that works. I’m sorry I’m a terrible packer! I need an iron so this time I wasn’t let down 🙂
5. Water. Sounds so silly doesn’t it but you can never have enough water. K pointed out that this is a Marriott policy worldwide and they make sure you have ample water to drink in your room. It might seem totally insignificant but I think it’s great. Especially when I drink atleast 2 liters a day.
6. Eco friendliness – My biggest gripe with hotels and fancy places is wastage. I hate that there must be so much wastage in terms or the washing and cleaning of bed linen and towels. A lot of hotels have started adopting this policy where they allow you to decide if you want your towel and sheets changed and only then do they give you new ones. I enjoy a turn down service as much as the next guy but really I don’t wash my bed sheet at home everyday so why do it at the hotel ? I wish more people who avail of this and more hotels would embrace this policy.
Pune is fast emulating Mumbai and space is slowly but surely becoming an issue. In the space that the hotel has, they’ve managed to give their guests as much as possible.
The rooftop I’m told hosts an exquisite lounge but unfortunately due to the monsoon season it was shut and I didn’t get a chance to experience that. The hotel has a 24 hour gymnasium which has a lovely view of the city and I can imagine for the enthusiastic gym junkies it would be a glorious workout while watching the sun rise or set.
On the same floor is their executive lounge which is given out for private functions in the day ( business meetings in the morning ) and then in the evening its converted into a select space where privileged guests ( ones that are currently occupying a higher category of rooms or possibly staying for a long duration) can enjoy happy hours and a food of a select menu.
The hotel has their own banquet halls which I’m told are immensely popular for wedding functions like sangeet and mehendi or even private birthday parties.
My favourite part of the hotel apart from my room of course is their pool. It’s not really a swimming pool in the traditional sense as it’s small and only about 4 feet tall making it more of a paddle pool and great to lounge and laze in. It’s actually one of the most relaxing spots in the hotel and it’s quite enjoyable to sit by the pool and having a meal or a drink or two. Maybe it’s all the wood work by the pool and patio that is starkly different from the rest of the hotel but its’ also very calming.
The restaurant has two eateries. Their main dining is called Momo Cafe and a small bakery take away of sorts called Momo2go. Like every unassuming guest that walks in for the first time I thought Momo Cafe would be some sort of haven for oriental food and was sorely disappointed to learn it has nothing to do with the plump tasty treat but in fact starts for MOdern living MOdern dining. I don’t know which senior exec at their head office thought of this but personally they should either change the name or then just bite the bullet and curate a spectacular momo and dimsum menu! Personally I hope the latter happens.
Momo2go has more snacky items and breads, donuts, croissants and basically everything sinfully good. The food is at Momo Cafe.
The menu is a mix of cuisines where I think the Indian food is stronger than their Western fair. The tikkas are lovely, specially the fish tikka which is soft and perfectly spiced. I’m really impressed with their vegetarian ones as well, though I generally never order them I have to say the aloo tikkis as well as their kaju and mutter tikkis are really good. Their paya soup is a treat for Paya addicts and K had a bowl full – literally the biggest soup bowl I’ve seen. This is a meal in its self.
However as I mentioned the Western food is com si com sa – sadly my salmon and prawn pasta in tomato sauce sounded better than it tasted.
My dinner was slightly better and the prawn cocktail salad was served with the typical cocktail sauce and orange segments. A different salad and enjoyable but nothing to really rave about. The smoked salmon was rolled up and stuffed in a cylindrical cucumber and topped with what I think was sour cream because it didn’t taste like cream cheese. I’m not a great cucumber fan so the combo doesn’t really work for me I’d have preferred it on toast with a healthy slather of good ol phily cream cheese and that delicious fish. I was also uber boring and asked for jalapeno and cheese poppers because comfort junk food is always fun.
The prawn red Thai curry was enjoyable but I’ve definitely eaten better and lighter curries. I found this a tad bit thick in consistency and was expecting an out and out prawn curry I found pieces of zucchini and broccoli in my curry. As much as I enjoy them, I feel like then there is less prawn and I would avoid them but to be honest they do add to the flavour mix.
The one thing I missed at all meals was the dessert because quite honestly the portions are great and it’s a LOT of food to digest. Though there is a standing lunch and dinner buffet which seems incredibly popular I chose to try their a la cart menu. I must say the hotel has mastered the art of refreshments with their fresh juices and smoothies – I had the best lychee drink, musk melon juice and the most decadent fresh mango smoothie, all served in enormous tumblers and serve as a meal in itself!
K couldn’t join me for dinner so he ended up ordering room service and oddly enough asked for a Marriot burger and a bowl full of daal ! It’s a weird combo, I don’t even question these things but boy does he know how to order because both were delicious. The burger patty was yum topped with bacon strips and all the trimmings. I have to say it’s nice to see a whole chunk of accompanyments with the burger specially the gherkins and the finely sliced potato wedges. The daal was polished off like soup and I think almost everyone will agree that there is nothing more comforting than a bowl of delicious hot daal.
Breakfast is the only time I opted for their buffet and wasn’t disappointed at all. I think this might have been my best meal. With a mix of Indian and International breakfast items it’s a filling buffet. The pancakes are superb. I didn’t get any chocolate chip ones but if the plain jane is tasty then I’m sure the flavours are too. Plenty of cold cuts and cheese to choose from, more Danish, donuts and warm croissants, eggs any way you like them, waffles, pancakes, pav bhaji, poha and a lot more I can’t recall now.
I think if I had to sum up the hotel there are only two things I wish were different. First I would have liked to have one more restaurant – maybe even a specific cuisine centric restaurant as I found the food to be enjoyable but average. Nothing that overly impressed me except one or two things.
Secondly I think this hotel sorely lacks a spa. I think there can be nothing more indulgent than a spa ( a good bubble bath comes a close second). While this being a business hotel I think it would add great value to have that option I know I would be the first in line to book an appointment.
Apart from what I liked and didn’t the real question is , would I go back and the answer is a big resounding yes. I think the hotel has nailed it’s room facilities and it’s service making my stay extremely relaxing and enjoyable so why wouldn’t I want to go again?