Once the site of the cutting-edge Gemini studio, this 14-year old hotel takes its design cues from the movies, marrying dramatic public spaces with kitschy Bollywood bling. Avant-garde when it opened with its leather-floored bar and nightclubs, this packed hotel still has its swing.
At the corner of the arterial Gemini flyover, the hotel is minutes away from pretty much every city attraction except the beaches. The shops and galleries of Wallace Garden are five minutes by car on busy Nungambakkam High Road. The Egmore museum, with its fantastic collection of Chola bronzes, is 10 minutes away. The Madras Music Academy and other concert halls where carnatic music and bharatanatyam dance performances happen throughout the year are 10 minutes in the opposite direction.
Style & character
Founder Priya Paul’s design sensibility permeates this member of Design Hotels. The 214 rooms are decorated with Bollywood movie posters. Even the door numbers mimic the font of a filmmaking clapper-board. It has the feel of a classic boutique hotel with interesting if aging murals, sculptures, paintings, photographs, and quirky furniture at every turn. Original art by contemporary Indian artists, including Mrinalini Mukherjee and Rashid Rana, among others, adorn the public spaces.
The Leather Bar (with its leather floor) is a nod to the leather industries that once occupied this area. When it opened over a decade ago, models and stylish college students from the neighbourhood made it their own version of Studio 54. Today, the hotel shows signs of wear and tear. Many of the spaces are slowly being updated.
Service & facilities
Service is attentive and non-intrusive, a welcome change from the obsequiousness that marks some Indian hotels. When a guest admired a notebook carried by the Food & Beverage manager, he bought her the same orange notebook. When a guest wanted her blouse darned, a female staff working in the spa offered to do it. It is these touches that elevate the service at The Park. The rooftop swimming pool is lovely and has sweeping views on all sides.
Stand-alone restaurants populate the Nungambakkam neighbourhood where The Park is located.
Theatre performances occur in the nearby Max Mueller Bhavan.
The American Embassy across the street adds security to the area.
Standard rooms are spacious and decorated with character. There are movie posters, well-chosen curios such as an antique spoon stand from a Chettinad home, and curved chairs that are surprisingly comfortable and yet unusual. Kama toiletries in the bathroom are fragrant and rooted to India. Beds are comfortable and the feathery bedside lamps are reminiscent of lighting designer, Ingo Maurer. The bathrooms, while not huge, have a screened separate shower, toilet and a washbasin—no bathtub.
Food & drink
The four dining outlets are very different in spirit. 601, the all-day dining restaurant, serves a good breakfast with a coffee bar serving South Indian filter coffee. During the day, people drop in for its mutton biriyani, barbequed baby back ribs and Mylapore tiramisu—a spicier intepretation of this Italian dessert that tastes better than it sounds.
Lotus, the Thai restaurant, has original sculptural flowers at the entrance. Its whole pomfret with chili, garlic and sweet basil is popular, particularly with a side of crispy fried lotus root. A2, a sushi and tapas bar, was designed by Indian furniture designer, Gunjan Gupta. It sports a combination of industrial chic with refined food. Try the parmesan truffle fries, sushi and sashimi and end with a chocolate volcano bomb.
Aqua, by the pool, features kebabs and dals along with Indian breads for those who want to swim and regain lost calories.
Value for money
Double rooms from €76 (£65) in low season (April-September); and from €89 (£77) in high (October-March). Buffet breakfast & basic Wi-Fi (512 kbps) is included. Access to high-speed Internet is an additional €10 (£8).
Access for guests with disabilities?
There are ramps and lifts everywhere and one adapted room.
The staff is very friendly and accommadating of families, but there is no kids’ club.
© Telegraph Media Group Limited 2017
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