Our stay over Christmas at the Taj Bengal was equally satisfying.
We left the hotel, heading to the airport with that slight feeling of regret. Much like we were leaving our granny’s home. ‘Who’s going to shower us with this much attention again?’. Definitely not our selfish cats!
27th Dec is Perfect Hubby’s birthday. A date that’s often spent in the stupor of post Christmas binging and the thought of anything resembling yet another ‘celebration’, is frankly nauseating.
Calcutta 2013; Taj Bengal, was however different. A bouquet of red roses, 3 complimentary cakes and all manner of staff wishing hubby a happy birthday was what he woke up to.
Taj does excel at hospitality and rest assured while we can afford it the Taj will be our hotel of choice.
My issue is the location. I hate dust, traffic and anything that doesn’t have a high-end mall next door. Granted the Calcutta Zoo is right next door and it’s only a short walk to lovely wide roads and the gorgeous Victoria Memorial, but the 1 km walk there is just bloody awful.
It’s dusty, crowded and run down. I hated walking there and the only way I could enjoy Calcutta was to hire the hotel car to drive us around. My advise to visitors would be organise a hire car, or if you can afford it, the hotel car, and get driven around in air conditioned comfort avoiding beggars, dust and crowds.
The Oberoi Grand is slam bang in the centre of it all on Park Street, near New Market. Walking distance to everything. But I believe it’s dull and the service not as good as the Taj.
A word of warning though. Like me if you live in Hong Kong, having grown up in Bombay , the pace of service is slow. The people way-hay nicer, but slow. This is in no way reflection of the staff. It’s the city. The leisurely pace of a Bengali.
The staff are friendly, helpful, warm and efficient. But the pace tested my patience. Tested in a rather bemused way.
I lose my patience with the pace in San Diego and Sydney, but the Bengalis are my people so of-course there is favoritism. I am amused rather than ‘snappish’. (And Bali. I am patient there. One can not get annoyed with the Balinese as they float through life, smiling all the time)
In Hong Kong, or Bombay, we are used to sitting at a table and a waiter materializing out of thin air. In Calcutta we can sit for around 5 mins before someone attends to you. Even at the breakfast buffet it was a while before someone offered us tea or coffee. And I am not talking a choka-block full breakfast service either.
I feel terrible pointing this out as part of a Taj Bengal blog this because large parts of the world, except probably Tokyo, are exactly this slow and being Taj the fact is the staff delivered everything we needed, to perfection.
But HK does spoil you with efficiency. Unfriendly yes, but definitely efficient. ‘Dont wish me goodmorning and ask me how my day is, just serve me’.
Heck even Singapore is a bit leisurely for me!
Anyway all in all if you visit Calcutta stay at the Taj Bengal and grab a hotel car.