Guest post by Elizabeth Owen
Why you’ll love the Oberoi Grand, Kolkata
Often referred to as the ‘Grande Dame of Calcutta’ (after the daughter-in-law of Col. Grand, on the site of whose mansion the hotel is built), this beautiful hotel, located in the heart Kolkata, is an oasis of calm and the perfect place to unwind after a day exploring this bustling city.
The Grand dates back to 1894 and has endured two world wars, the rise and fall of empires; famine, flood, fire and riot. During World War II, for instance, the hotel was commandeered by the British as a rest and recuperation centre. According to Bachi J Karkarin, it is estimated that at the height of the war, 4,000 soldiers were camped out in the then 500-room hotel! She went on to share that the king-size beds were swapped for cots, sheets were laid out on corridors and the smart Casanova bar, normally frequented by gentlemen in dress shirt, started to resemble a ‘cowboy-movie saloon’.
The hotel has of course moved on since then. Yet, one of its greatest selling points is that it has managed to maintain its tradition and charm. Its neoclassical façade, pillared entrance, and classic furnishings mixed with traditional Indian style echo the city’s colonial heritage.
The rooms are comfortable, adorned with silk drapes, rich mahogany furniture and decorative detail. The hotel even offers guests a choice of pillows to ensure that you have the best night’s sleep. And you really will. The breakfasts are fresh and delicious, and especially nice when taken under a shade by the outdoor pool where you can enjoy the warmth of the morning sun. Their large swimming pool is also a welcome treat to come home to after a busy and exciting day sightseeing.
Why the kids will love the Oberoi Grand, Kolkata
We travelled with little kids and they loved staying at this hotel. From the cosy beds, the fantastic swimming pool, the beautiful flower arrangements, the scrummy breakfasts and kids food, this hotel had everything you need to stay in the heart of a bustling city with little ones. The hotel staff are gracious and helpful and nothing is too much trouble.
Tours of the city and trips to some of the city’s many historical landmarks, such as the Mother Theresa house, the Victoria Memorial or the colourful flower market, can easily be arranged. Whilst the hotel had little in the way of activities for little ones, it was equipped and ready with extra beds, cots, an extensive kids menu and a babysitting service.
There are 209 rooms and suites at The Oberoi Grand, Kolkata.
The hotel features the following rooms:
- 74 Deluxe rooms
- 64 Luxury rooms,
- 29 Premier rooms
- 33 Premier balcony rooms
The rooms measure between 375-450 square feet with views of either the bustling markets below, the swimming pool or the garden. Comfortably decorated, the rooms are traditional in style, the beds are really cosy and with a pillow menu, you will no doubt all have a good night’s sleep after a long day of sightseeing.
The hotel also has 3 Classic suites, 3 Deluxe suites and 3 Luxury suites which cover 517 to 904 square feet offering views of the palm-fringed court yard and swimming pool.
All the rooms feature:
- 32-inch LCD TV
- Personal safe
- Forrest Essentials toiletries
- Bathrobes and slippers
- Pillow menu
- Turndown service
- Blackout curtains to eliminate light
Best Rooms For Families: The best rooms for families are definitely the Premier balcony rooms. The balcony is a nice addition once the kids are in bed and you fancy having a drink or dinner close by and not in the dark bedroom! When booking specify that you would like a Premier balcony room with a larger bathroom. Some of the Premier rooms have small bathrooms which are not suitable for a family. A Premier room can accommodate 2 extra beds – a cot and a single bed. Avoid the Luxury rooms which are found on the 2nd floor as this is a smoking floor.
Inter-connecting rooms are available in the Deluxe and Luxury rooms, subject to availability.
Extra Beds: In a one double occupancy room with 2 adults, the hotel provides 1 complimentary bed allowing 2 children below the age of 8. If the child is above 8years & up to 12years they provide 1 complimentary bed for a single child. The policy is same in case of suites as well. The hotel will also provide a floor cot for babies and little ones (as you require).
The hotel has a great kids menu with ample size portions (in fact our 2 little ones shared a kid’s portion). The menu includes various simple dishes and treats such as fish fingers, pizza, pasta dishes, chocolate brownies, banana splits, smoothies and milkshakes.
The breakfast buffet is extensive with plenty of choice including cereals, fruit (strawberries, kiwis, mangos etc), yogurts, eggs to the kids liking, toast, croissants and a range of Indian food. There really is something for everyone and the staff members are very helpful in accommodating any requests.
Apart from a lovely swimming pool (although there is no toddler pool) the hotel offers little in the way of activities for young children.
For bigger kids (6-14 year olds) the hotel offers bartending and Junior Masterchef classes. These need to be booked one day in advance.
Families can also enjoy traditional afternoon tea with a delicious selection of cakes.
For parents there are a few more options including a massage or facial at their spa, a cocktail in the Chowringhee Bar or an early morning yoga class.
In all honesty though, the hotel is an excellent, child friendly base from which to explore the bustling city of Kolkata.
Here are some of the places we recommend to visit in Kolkata with children:
- The colourful Malik Ghat Flower Market located next to the Howrah Bridge. Our daughter loves flowers and could have happily spent the morning selecting all the pink ones! Best to go early.
- Wander through the lanes of Kumartuli – the potter’s town of ‘Kumar’ families, makers of clay deities. Many of the statues, some ginormous in size, are thrown into the Hooghly River during Kolkata’s pujas. It is quite a process and well worth a look at their work.
- Mother Teresa’s ‘Motherhouse’ is a humbling experience to learn about this incredible woman who gave her life to the poor. We enjoyed visiting the museum and conversing with the nuns.
- South Park Street Cemetery which was constructed in the 1760s. Whilst not an obvious choice to take children, it is an oasis of calm and an interesting site for history buffs.
- Victoria Memorial and gardens is a beautiful piece of colonial architecture, built in Queen Victoria’s honour. It is a fantastic place for photographs and for the children to have a run around, or to enjoy a picnic.
Air-Conditioning, Babysitting, central heating, cots, doctors & hospitals, extra beds, inter-connecting rooms, kids’ activities, kids’ dining facilities, laundry service, pushchair friendly, shops, spa, swimming pool, travel desk.
When to go:
November to March are the most enjoyable months to visit. December or January are especially nice when the weather is perfect for sightseeing as there is little or no rain and it is sunny and warm. Avoid April to June when temperatures soar and it is incredibly hot. The monsoon starts in July. It could be quite an adventure to visit at that time but be prepared to get wet and pack your wellies!
Location & Travel:
The Oberoi Grand, is located in Chowringhee, the heart of Kolkata’s commercial district and shopping centre. During rush hour, it is a 1hr journey to Kolkata airport and at other times 45minutes. You can fly direct to Kolkata from Delhi in just over 2hrs. There is also an overnight train from Delhi to Kolkata. If you are visiting just for the weekend, flying would be your best option.
Reviewed by: Elizabeth Owen
1. When booking ask for a premier room with a balcony and a large bathroom. Remember the 2nd floor permits smoking so best to avoid.
2. Weather-wise, Kolkata is at its most enjoyable from November to March. April to June are very hot and best to avoid a visit during these months. July to late October are the monsoons. If you decide to go then be prepared to get a bit wet.
3. Perhaps one of the best kept secrets is Nizam’s, a bustling café located just behind the hotel which is said to be the inventor of the Kathi roll, a kebab wrapped in layers of paratha. It might take a day or two off your life but they are seriously good and you will inevitably want to go back for more.
Disclosure: The Oberoi Grand offered Elizabeth and her family a media rate for her stay. All opinions and views expressed in the review are entirely her own.