With 150-year old raintrees, gulmohars, and banyans, this leafy 20-acre property successfully drowns out traffic noise and offers a significantly higher oxygen level, both luxuries without a price-tag. Quite simply, this is the most verdant hotel in Bangalore — beloved of locals and repeat guests.
Though not as close to Central Bangalore as its sister property, Vivanta by Taj or the Oberoi, this hotel, considered to be India’s oldest, is close to public transport, the National Gallery of Modern Art, boutiques, and the Bangalore turf club.
Founded in 1887 as the Bronsons West End, the hotel has seen wars, calamities, and the filming of ‘Passage to India,’ during which time Dame Peggy Ashcroft stayed here. Its “Prince of Wales lawns” host weddings and parties almost every day. A Shiva temple on site is worshipped by staff.
With monkey-top roofs, gothic arches, and red tiled roofs, the hotel looks like a large manor house. Turkeys wander amidst ancient cycad trees off the lobby. Flocks of geese, hens and rabbits run around the tennis court. Over 30 species of birds including barbets and Brahmini kites fly over the swimming pool. Stay in the heritage Taj club wing if you can, which has a terrace garden and lovely art work.
The Jiva spa is exceptional and situated in the oldest part of the property, which used to be the Bronsons’ home. The spa is entirely organic, and features three treatment rooms, including a couples room. Try the specialized Indian therapies: Sushupti to put you to sleep and Vishrama for aches and pains (both INR 10,080/£115). There is an adjacent fitness centre. Evenings can be spent browsing the library, the shops in-house, or taking a walk through the property with the resident horticulturalist or historian. The hotel seems to inspire passion and loyalty amongst the staff. The horticulturalist, for instance, points out trees that were planted by his father.
This hotel has one of the oldest and loveliest raintrees in the city. Sitting under it with a cup of tea is a particular pleasure.
Splurge on the Tata suite if you can. Named after the hotel group’s founder.
In the evening, a variety of birds come and sing on the premises
The 117 rooms fall into four categories. The basic rooms are well-sized and have private gardens or verandahs. The ambience is more old-world charm than edgy contemporary. While there is free Wi-Fi, minibar, and tea/coffee on offer, don’t expect docking stations or Nespresso machines. The bathrooms have couples showers, and fragrant toiletries by Forest Essentials, an Indian luxury ayurvedic firm.
Of the three restaurants, Masala Klub serves authentic Indian food with a twist. Signature dishes include lamb shanks marinated in rose petals, chicken cubes in a cheese marinade, garlic infused mahi-fish, and the vegetarian kebabs. All of these run to about INR 1,941 (£23).
Blue Ginger serves brightly flavoured Vietnamese cuisine in a water-bordered, open Chinese pavilion. Standouts include tenderloin pho-soup, silken tofu, shaken beef, and grilled prawns. Well-planned tasting menus begin at INR 2,090 (£25) for the vegetarian and run to an expensive INR 5,600 (£68) for the seafood, thanks to imported lobster.
Double rooms from INR 14,963 (£145), inclusive of breakfast.
Access for guests with disabilities?
There are ramps everywhere and golf carts for guests who need them. The hotel has fitted one room with special lights, and amenities for guests with special needs.
There are several interconnecting rooms. Baby cots are available for free and children’s beds (including breakfast) are available for INR 1,120 (£13). There are children’s menus available at all restaurants. The housekeeping staff supplies toys, colouring books and stuffed animals to their younger guests. Bicycles are available for free in the property.
25, Race Course Road, Bangalore, Karnataka 560001, India.
Shoba Narayan is an author, journalist and columnist. Besides writing, she is interested in nature, wine, gadgets and Sanskrit. Her lifelong mission is to get fit without exercising and lose weight without dieting.