Cricket is many things to India and now it’s also the reason why the newest jewel in the ITC crown, the Royal Gardenia, opened to the public a full three months before all the facilities were ready. With the Windsor running full house, spillover officials of the Champions League—including Lalit Modi— were accommodated at the new hotel. An October soft launch was always on the cards, the public relations consultant hastens to inform me, so the bulk of the public spaces and around 200 of the 292 rooms were ready when the first guests walked in on 6 October.
Fabulously located at the junction of Residency Road and Vittal Mallya Road, overlooking Bangalore Club, the Royal Gardenia is in many ways the antithesis of the faux-colonial ITC Windsor (many residents of the city continue to think it’s actually a historical building, instead of being styled after one). The streamlined architecture tries to bring inside a bit of the outdoors, in keeping with the Garden City theme, so much so that the hotel has no front doors at all!
Green with envy: (left) The hotel’s pillared Lotus Pavilion has four drip-irrigated, 10,600m-tall vertical gardens; six rooms in one of the wings make up the Eva floor, meant for single women travellers.
The good stuff
Considering the hotel is spread over just 4 acres—originally the site of four two-storeyed residential blocks for senior ITC management—clever design makes for a very spacious feel. The high atrium lobby (that doubles up as a wind tunnel) leads straight into the central courtyard, to the pillared Lotus Pavilion, housing the beer-and-beverage bar. The roof of the pavilion is actually a flourishing lawn, making for uninterrupted green cover for anyone looking down from the 11 floors that soar up in an L-shape. The talking points, however, are the four drip-irrigated vertical gardens, 10,600m-tall steel structures, each embedded with up to 1,500 plants. In the Cubbon Pavilion coffee shop—named after the man who designed the city’s green lungs less than a couple of kilometres away—the garden climbs up to the 12th floor. Ingenious and inspiring.
The rooms and suites, divvied into Towers and ITC One, start on the 11th floor, with each floor coming with its own nature theme.
Six rooms in a dedicated wing make up the Eva floor; it caters to single women travellers and is serviced only by women. The bathrooms in ITC One are thoughtfully supplied with televisions at the foot of the bath, as well as two flat screens on either side of the dividing wall; the dressing niche is also a good idea.
When fully operational by year-end, the hotel will have four dining options: the West View grill and Edo—ITC’s first Japanese restaurant—will join the currently functional coffee shop and Kebabs & Kurries.
Surprisingly for a hotel chain that has always focused on its cuisine, our meal at Kebabs & Kurries—a mélange of dishes from Bukhara, Dum Pukht and Peshawri—was disappointing. We were lucky to have for company Grand Master chef Imtiaz Qureshi, but only the breads—the Naan-e-Bakumaach, an ajwain-flavoured flat bread apparently dating back to the days of Aurangzeb, and the Warqi Paratha—matched up to the flavour of his stories of feeding the famous. The barrah kebabs were passable, but I’ve had better at the Windsor’s Royal Afghan. The coffee shop made for a much more satisfactory experience.
I found the ITC One rooms more than a trifle cluttered: Apart from the two TVs (three, if you count the bathroom), there’s also an immense massage chair and a square worktable, besides a sofa in the living space. The Eva rooms have security video screens; perhaps they should provide a how-to manual as well.
Mobile phone coverage inside the hotel is patchy at best and non-existent deep inside the restaurants, but I guess boosters will be installed soon.
Tower rooms go for Rs12,000 a night; ITC One for Rs14,000 a night, plus taxes. A meal for two at Kebabs & Kurries will cost around Rs2,000. Special offers are available till 31 January.
ITC Royal Gardenia, 1, Residency Road, Bangalore-560025. For details, log on to www.itcwelcomgroup.in