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City Sanctuaries

Published: 29/02/2012 - Filed under: Features » Features » Destinations » Archive » 2012 » March 2012 » Special Reports »

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Meher Mirza and Bharati Motwani offer up a compendium of affordable accommodation options in India’s major cities

Hotels in India have a reputation for being expensive. Yet there are plenty of reasonably priced options if you know where to look. The following is a list of affordable hotels in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Delhi.


Mumbai is a long, long island so prepare for a tonne of driving. Aside from a bouquet of hotels gracing the airport area in north Mumbai (the domestic and international airports are a half-hour’s drive from each other), most hotels are located beside the beach in Juhu and in upmarket South Mumbai. If you have business in Nariman Point, head southwards – this part of town is where all the tourists congregate too.


Courtyard Mumbai International Airport

Close to both domestic and international airports, Courtyard by Marriott is a rather inspiring spot to rest your head, with high-speed internet, iPod docking station, flat-screen TVs and data ports in each room. The rooms are tastefully decorated, with in-room tea and coffee facilities, and those guests staying in rooms with mini kitchens can shop for goods at the hotel’s MoMo Mart. In addition, there are five restaurants serving international and Asian fare. On the fitness side there is a health club and outdoor pool. All the hardware aside, the hotel also scores high for its cheery and competent employees.

Number of rooms: 316
rooms, 14 suites

Room rates start from: Rs 8,000 (US$162)

Best for: Those needing fast access to the airports


Best Western: The Emerald Hotel and Executive Apartments

Less than a five-minute walk from Juhu Beach lies Best Western: The Emerald. Rooms offer some quietly mismatched upholstery but feature complimentary newspapers, electronic safes, hairdryers, tea- and coffee-making facilities, and complimentary shoeshine service, although the broadband internet is not free. Our pick for the business mogul would be the deluxe room, which has 25.5 sqm of space and offers an ergonomically designed workstation. The hotel’s dining facilities are limited to two but its central location means that you don’t have to go too far to experience some of the city’s best restaurants and bars.

Number of rooms: 66

Room rates start from: Rs 8,900 (US$180) rack rate, although booking online can save you up to 40 per cent

Best for: Those needing to be centrally located

Four Points by Sheraton Navi Mumbai

Located 40 kilometres from the centre of Mumbai but a mere whiff from the bustling Vashi business district. While the rooms will not win any interior design awards the facilities are adequate and include internet access, iron and ironing boards, data ports, TV and DVD, complimentary international newspaper, hairdryer, fruit basket and coffee- and tea-making facilities. There is also a business centre, secretarial service, free wifi in public areas, spa, outdoor pool, 24-hour fitness centre and 24-hour concierge service. There are four food and beverage outlets including a 24-hour coffee shop.

Number of rooms: 150

Room rates start from: Rs 6,200 (US$126)

Best for: Those wanting to be close to the city’s business heart


Gordon House Hotel

This standalone boutique hotel in touristy Colaba (a few minutes from South Mumbai’s office district, Nariman Point) oozes charm from every pore. Its rooms perfectly blend whimsy and discreet efficiency with Scandinavian, Mediterranean and Country themes, all of which come with a rash of complimentary services – wifi, breakfast, quick check-ins with welcome drink, two bottles of mineral water, DVD rentals and ironing. There’s no fitness centre but they do have a tie-up with a nearby gymnasium. Or you could just boogie the night away at the hotel’s popular retro nightclub, Polly Esther’s. There are two restaurants.

Number of rooms: 29, including 1 suite

Room rates start from: Rs 8,500 (US$172)

Best for: Those looking for a small place with style


Ramee Guestline Hotel Juhu


Located right by Juhu Beach, Ramee Guestline describes itself as a four-star budget hotel. Room amenities include paid wifi, tea and coffee facilities, electronic safe and 24-hour room service. If you splash out on an executive or premium room, the hotel throws in airport transfers, an hour’s free internet and a complimentary cocktail coupon. There are three dining options, a spa and health club and swimming pool.

Number of rooms: 88

Room rates start from: Rs 7,500 (US$152)

Best for: Those looking for value



Located just off the bustling main street of Colaba Causeway in South Mumbai is the unpretentious Fariyas Hotel. All rooms have wifi, a minibar, fax on demand and ambient temperature control, with access to a health club, spa and rooftop swimming pool. There is also an executive club lounge, multi-cuisine restaurant and a bar. Step out right into the midst of the tourist trail to find a score of hip restaurants and bigger attractions like the Gateway of India and Taj Mahal hotel. Plus, it’s just a few minutes by taxi to the bustling Nariman Point.

Number of rooms: 87

Room rates start from: Rs 7,500 (US$152)

Best for: Those wanting to be near business and culture


The Ambassador

A stone’s throw from Churchgate Station and a ten-minute drive from Mumbai’s lively art and shopping district, Kala Ghoda, lies The Ambassador hotel. Glide past the unprepossessing exterior and you get quality at a considerably lower price than most. Each room offers bathrobes (on request), chargeable wifi in all rooms (and public areas), and a writing table. The executive rooms boast a bedside control for lighting and air-conditioning, but the Ambassador’s real claim to fame is owning Mumbai’s only rooftop revolving restaurant, with spectacular city views. Be warned though – the gym is small and ill-equipped.

Number of rooms: 112

Room rates start from:

Rs 6,750 (US$137) with discounts for advance booking

Best for: Those drawn to classic yet affordable digs



In Chennai, the past still murmurs softly under the arc lights of the future. IT companies are mushrooming like never before and bringing with them a surging wave of business travellers. Both national and international airports in the southwest of the city are located within minutes of each other and are connected to the main city by the arterial road Anna Salai. Two rivers glide through the city, the Cooum and Adyar, and it is between them that you will find Chennai’s bustling business districts. Close to the Cooum River are Egmore and Triplicane, the heart of the commercial city. 

GRT Grand

The GRT Grand is a top draw Chennai business hotel that is trying to position itself as a boutique hotel. Situated in T Nagar, the city’s commercial and shopping hub. Regular rooms here are compact (24 sqm) but business needs are efficiently met with wifi and 24-hour fax, telex and secretarial services. There is also an outdoor swimming pool, well-equipped fitness centre, beauty salon and four food and beverage choices. Ideal for the business traveller are the Grand Club rooms which come with a swathe of complimentary amenities – airport transfers, buffet breakfast at the Club Lounge, two drinks and snacks during happy hour, DVD player, limited complimentary laundry, steam, sauna, Jacuzzi, foot massage and even a special diet menu.

Number of rooms: 133

Room rates start from: Rs 7,500 (US$152)

Best for: Those needing to be close to business and transport hubs


The Residency Towers

The rooms at the Residency Towers are average sized (27 sqm) but immaculate, with customary business amenities such as wifi, an ergonomic work area, tea/coffee maker, orthopaedic mattress, 24-hour room service and electronic safe. Lady travellers get special rooms with video phones and everyone can check in and check out at any time of the day. Those keen on fitness can pump iron at the health club from 6am to 10pm or slip into solitude at the steam, sauna and Jacuzzi. If you hanker for a taste of Old Blighty in Chennai, you can hop over to Main Street, their coffee shop or take a gander at Bike & Barrel, one of the city’s most popular nightspots.

Number of rooms: 174

Room rates start from: Rs 5,400 (US$109)

Best for: Those needing to be centrally located


Fortune Select Palms

One of India’s mighty hotel chains, the Welcomgroup, offer up the swish Fortune Select Palms on the Old Mahabalipuram Road, in the heart of the technology sector. Amenities include 24-hour room service, wifi, iron and ironing board. A small fitness centre and spa will help you unwind after those pressurised business meetings. There are two restaurants, a bar and a 24-hour coffee shop.

Number of rooms: 129

Room rates start from: Rs 6,000 (US$122)

Best for: Those in IT


Lemon Tree Hotel

The Lemon Tree is a mere seven kilometres from the city’s airports. But don’t be fooled – in Chennai traffic terms that translates to about half an hour on bumpy roads. The guestrooms boast all the expected amenities, including wifi, flat-screen TVs, workstations and power outlets at desk level. To cocoon the weary traveller in his somnolence there are also blackout curtains and vacuum-sealed windows. There’s a swimming pool, a business centre and a properly stocked gymnasium. A 24-hour coffee shop and a bar complete the package.

Number of rooms: 108

Room rates start from: Rs 6,000 (US$122)

Best for: Those with a tight schedule



Kolkata is a city of contradictions. Among the squalid signs of unceasing poverty are the rising monoliths of modernity, gleaming structures of glass and steel. In the twisting warren of Esplanade lanes in central Kolkata, you often find beautiful 19th century buildings in a desperate state of decay beside the city’s thrumming commercial establishments. But the south of the city is also home to multiplexes and shopping malls, amusement parks and discos. Jostling for space amidst the urban sprawl is a clutch of hotels that offer a swathe of excellent services.


Fortune Park, Panchwati

The Fortune Park, Panchwati is situated right on the Kona Expressway, a mere whisper away from the airport. Rooms come with two hours of free internet a day, a minibar, tea and coffee facilities, iron and ironing board, plus 24-hour room service. Food and beverage options include a 24-hour coffee shop serving an international selection of food, a bar and a lounge. While there is no gym there is a large outdoor swimming pool.

Number of rooms: 65, including 12 suites

Room rates start from: Rs 4,750 (US$96)

Best for: Those on a tight schedule


Kenilworth Hotel

Located just ten minutes away from the hurly-burly of the city centre and 45 minutes from the airport, the Kenilworth’s fully equipped rooms and suites offer flat-screen TVs, broadband connection, digital safes, 24-hour room service, complimentary soft drinks and mineral water, tea and coffee. Pulse, the hotel’s health and wellness centre, offers a moderately equipped gym with plenty of cardio machines, plus steam and spa amenities. There are four F&B options, including a bakery and the only English-style pub in town.

Number of rooms: 101

Room rates start from: Rs 9,000 (US$182)

Best for: Those needing to be centrally located


Peerless Inn

In the pulsing heart of the city lies the Peerless Inn, part of the Peerless hotel chain. It’s a hop away from some of Kolkata’s biggest tourist attractions – Eden Gardens, Victoria Memorial and New Market – and a 100-metre stroll away from Esplanade Metro station. You can watch the city ebb and flow from the large windows of all the guestrooms, which offer a liberal handful of complimentary amenities – 24-hour room service, electronic safe, welcome drink and fruit, daily newspaper, five local phone calls, mineral water, and chocolates at turndown and departure times. There’s a well-equipped gym, and don’t miss the hotel’s iconic Bengali restaurant Aaheli, where you should try one of the multi-dish thalis to get a feel for the cuisine.

Number of rooms: 122

Room rates start from: Rs 5,699 (US$116)

Best for: Those wanting to combine business and sightseeing


The only floating hotel in the city – built on an old steamer moored on the Hooghly River – provides a unique stay. The Floatel offers impeccable eco-credentials and efficient service, though the relatively spartan in-room creature comforts only run to a TV, tea and coffee facilities and 24-hour room service. For relaxing there is the multi-cuisine restaurant on the top deck and the open-air bar, which also serves snacks. The hotel’s business centre is perhaps the most scenic in Kolkata, with panes of glass overlooking the soft waves of the Hooghly. There is also a massage centre and gym.

Number of rooms: 49

Room rates start from: Rs 5,000 (US$101)

Best for: Those looking for a unique stay



There was a time not so long ago when Connaught Place – with its self-important pin-code (postal code)  “New Delhi 1” – was the heart of Delhi’s business activities. Now most offices have moved elsewhere, leaving behind mainly government blocks where the slow-turning wheels of bureaucracy continue to grind. Gurgaon, 30 kilometres to the south of the city with its neon-bright skyline, is the new business and financial hub, with Greater Noida, a new township with wide expressways and green, uncluttered industrial spaces, fast catching up. There are plenty of good four-star business hotels offering five-star facilities at very competitive rates because of high room inventories and high occupancy rates.


Ibis Hotel, Gurgaon

Part of the international Accor Hospitality Group, this is the first Ibis hotel in India. In the “Economy Plus” category, it offers small, no-frills but fully equipped rooms. Situated in the Central Business District, 15 minutes from the airport and next door to an 18-hole golf course, its rooms have standard contemporary fittings that include a flat-screen TV, tea/coffee maker, minibar, hairdryer, wifi and direct telephone dialling. There is free wifi in the public areas, but you are charged for internet access in the room. There is a a 24-hour multi-cuisine restaurant and a 24-hour bar that serves hot snacks, as well as a fitness centre and two well-equipped meeting rooms. The extensive buffet breakfasts are one of the hotel’s best features, and there are shopping malls just 10 minutes down the road. The only thing missing is a swimming pool.

Number of rooms: 217

Room rates start from: Rs 5,000 (US$101)

Best for: Those looking for value


Fortune Select Excalibur

A subsidiary of the premier Indian ITC brand, the Fortune Select Excalibur offers rooms with writing desk, flat-screen TV, wooden flooring, wifi, tea/coffee maker, minibar, and electronic safe. Guests get six hours of complimentary internet, and those in suites have access to the Club Lounge which offers breakfast, all-day refreshments, evening snacks and cocktails, besides assistance with business requirements. The Lounge can also be used for impromptu meetings. There is a gym and swimming pool, and the hotel is a 30-minute drive from the airport and 20 minutes from the CBD.

Number of rooms: 135

Room rates start from: Rs 6,500 (US$132)

Best for: Those wanting to conduct in-hotel meetings


Lemon Tree Hotel, East Delhi

The Lemon Tree property in Kaushambi is situated on the top two floors of a mall, but offers all the cheerful ambience and full-service mod-cons with which this chain is associated. The signature décor of the Lemon Tree chain is bright, spirited and contemporary. The rooms come with a flat-screen TV, tea/coffee maker, minibar, an orthopaedic mattress, vacuum-sealed double-paned windows for noise reduction, blackout curtains, 30 minutes of complimentary wifi in the room (in the 24-hour Business Centre it’s free) and 24-hour room service. There are rooms with a range of special in-room amenities designed specifically for lady travellers. The fitness centre is well appointed, and there is a 24-hour coffee shop and a swimming pool. The extensive buffet breakfast is complimentary, but a potential drawback is that the hotel does not have a liquor permit.

Number of rooms: 55

Room rates start from: Rs 4,500 (US$91)

Best for: Those with business in the industrial zone of East Delhi



Lemon Tree Hotels, Gurgaon

There are three Lemon Tree hotels in Gurgaon. Two of these, the Lemon Tree, City Center and Lemon Tree, Udyog Vihar are full-service, no-nonsense business hotels with all facilities exactly as you expect them: the rooms boast a workstation, chargeable wifi access, a safe, flat-screen TV and DVD player, complimentary mineral water provided daily, telephones with international direct dialling and voice mail, power outlets at desk level, tea/coffee maker, and orthopaedic mattresses. Room rates include buffet breakfast and airport transfers.

The Lemon Tree Premier at Leisure Valley is the chain’s more upscale “plus” brand that offers larger rooms with superior in-room facilities, a pool and spa, and a bar in addition to the multi-cuisine all-day café. All three hotels have a fitness centre.

Number of rooms:
45 (Lemon Tree, City Center);
49 (Lemon Tree, Udyog Vihar); 81 (Lemon Tree Premier)

Room rates start from:
Rs 5,500/US$112 (Lemon Tree, City Center); Rs 4,500/US$91 (Lemon Tree, Udyog Vihar); Rs 6,500/US$132 (Lemon Tree Premier)

Best for: Those looking for value for money


Radisson Blu Hotel, Greater Noida

The Radisson Blu Hotel, Greater Noida offers five-star luxury at prices only marginally higher than four-star hotels. The stylishly designed, soundproofed rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows that flood the space with natural light, and wood floors, while the beds boast down comforters, premium bed linen and a selection of pillows. A 40-inch LCD TV presents satellite channels and TV internet access (for an extra charge), and there is free wifi throughout the property. The hotel has a 24-hour café that serves a huge complimentary breakfast, a poolside delicatessen and a cosy bar. A Pan Asian restaurant serves cuisines from China, Japan, Korea, Thailand and Vietnam, and there’s a golf course nearby. A premium spa with an extensive choice of treatments is set to open this month, and a rooftop grill is in the pipeline. The Radisson Blu allows easy access to offices in Noida, Greater Noida and Central Delhi, and is 45km from the international airport.

Number of rooms: 175

Room rates start from: Rs 6,399 (US$130)

Best for: Those looking for luxury


Ramada Gurgaon Central

This hotel is part of the international Wyndham Hotels chain with 7,000 properties worldwide. Brand new and centrally located, it’s close to the malls and nightclubs. The rooms are a lot more luxurious than you might expect, with stylish wooden flooring, an expansive writing desk, plush sofas, a 31-inch LCD TV, tea-coffee maker, hairdryer, minibar, wifi, daily newspaper and evening turndown service. A continental breakfast is complimentary, as are airport transfers. A 24-hour coffee shop, Oriental cuisine restaurant, a spa, fitness centre and terrace pool beside a bar complete the leisure facilities. The hotel is particularly suited for meetings and conferences; two superbly fitted boardrooms and three conference rooms are very well equipped, and can accommodate from 50 to 350 people.

Number of Rooms: 94

Room Rates start from: Rs 6,000 (US$122)

Best For: Those looking for meeting facilities plus nightlife



Travel between Asia-Pacific and Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata is available on daily flights with a large cluster of both national airlines – including Air India, Jet Airways, Indian Airlines and Kingfisher – and international airlines such as Thai Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Japan Airlines and Emirates. Local low-cost carrier IndiGo also flies daily from Mumbai to Bangkok and Singapore. Work has started on Mumbai’s second international airport with an estimated completion date of 2014.

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