The only Chennai hotel that is part of the ‘Leading Hotels of the World,’ this 42-year-old landmark is where Chennai glitterati come for dates, engagements and weddings. It melds Chola bronzes, Tanjore paintings, Italian marble and Bohemian chandeliers to glittering effect.
Unless you want to spend time in Eliot’s and Marina beaches—part of the Coromandel coast after which the hotel is named, the location is outstanding. Close to the sabhas or concert halls where bhatanatyam dance performances and carnatic music concerts are held almost daily, the hotel is walking distance from the boutiques and nouvelle restaurants that are making their name in this most traditional of Indian cities.
Style & character
The hotel’s décor doesn’t aim for shock and awe. Rather, it is understated, much like the city it inhabits. Dark mahogany furniture, tuberose flower arrangements, flowing water, subdued lighting, and textured wood that takes its design cues from the fishing boats that ply Chennai beaches, knit together the serene and uncluttered public spaces. Sari-clad attendants welcome guests with jasmine garlands and vermilion dots on the forehead.
Service & facilities
Whether it is offering suggestions on where to buy Kanjivaram silk saris or go to local galleries, the staff know their city and their hotel. Their enthusiasm is infectious. Waiters recommend a special tea made in a village with cardamom and other spices. Guests enjoy the tropical heat as they tan by the 25-metre pool. The Jiva Grande spa has its own building—with six treatment rooms, a steam shower, sauna, and yoga room—with teachers trained in the Bihar School of yoga, considered to be the most authentic.
The banqueting spaces can accommodate up to 1,000 guests, making it a magnet for large Chennai weddings. The Taj Khazana boutique offers a curated selection of silk stoles and antique curios so you never need to leave the hotel for souvenirs.
I grew up going to this hotel. This is a popular Chennai haunt for generations.
The ink drawings featuring heritage buildings of the state both set the tone and the setting of the hotel. The ceiling moulds and the plastered walls resemble the stepped geometry of a Hindu temple. With fragrant flowers, a firm mattress, and a divan by the window for lounging, the rooms offer cool respite from the heat outside. There is Wi-Fi and two telephone lines, but none of the newer amenities: docking stations, iPads and Nespresso machines. The nice sized bathrooms with separate rain showers, feature aloe & neem toiletries from Forest Essentials, a local luxury brand.
Food & drink
Southern Spice, a local favorite, features dishes from the four Southern states. This stunning restaurant has heavy temple columns, original murals, hand-tufted carpets designed to look like rangoli designs adorning traditional courtyards, and an outstanding menu featuring banana flowers, seer fish, kedgeree, and chicken pilaf. Try the prawn tails with coriander for INR 1,342 (£15).
Golden Dragon is where young Chennai comes to celebrate. With an extensive tea and dim sum menu, as well as the usual kung pao chicken and silken tofu, the restaurant offers specially blended Tuscan wines—a pinot grigio and a chianti— named Kalpa Vriksh or Tree of Life, created for the hotel’s 40th anniversary.
Chef Alessandro from Florence mans the kitchen at Prego, and offers robust Italian dishes as well as eggless alternatives for vegetarian local diners. Besides the well chosen wine list and spice-infused cocktails, Chipstead bar also offers a ‘flaming lamborghini,’ made with spiced rum, Baileys, and a mixture of liquers for INR 2,014 (£24).
Anise is the all-day dining restaurant with a buffet breakfast including healthy alternatives like a ‘power bowl’ (several highly nutritious foods combined in one bowl), Indian gooseberry and bittergourd juices, and homemade croissants and strong filter coffee.
Value for money
Double rooms during the low season from INR 10,220 (£120), and from INR 11,855 (£144) in high season. Wi-Fi is complimentary. Breakfast is usually included.
Access for guests with disabilities?
This is a city hotel with ramps and elevators suitable for special guests.
Baby cots and interconnecting rooms are available as are children’s extra beds for a nominal charge. Kid’s menus are available at every restaurant. The staff goes out of its way to please its younger guests with toys and books. The hotel organizes trips to local museums and forts for families. That said, this is billed as a business hotel, and does not have a kids’ club.
© Telegraph Media Group Limited 2017
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