The Oberoi Grand's Weekend escapes offers luxury with a touch of class
There's an increasing section of corporate executives and professionals who find it difficult to take out time for a relaxing holiday. But if you want to experience the melding of decadent luxury with class during one of your relatively relaxed weekends and get completely rejuvenated at the very heart of the city, then The Oberoi Grand Kolkata has just the right kind staycation package for you. Commonly referred to as ‘The grand dame of Kolkata hotels’, this spot offers the best of old-world charm and ambience, with modern service. Their Weekend Escapes is just what you need to compensate for a long-overdue holiday.
Located at the city’s centre once you enter this majestic hotel, you will not be aware of the fact that it is nestled in one of the busiest parts of the town — Chowringhee. As we checked in to experience a one-night luxury stay last weekend, we were welcomed with a lemon iced tea and some freshly-baked cookies right at the reception. The few minutes that we had to wait at the understated yet elegant lobby area were enough for us to surmise that the Grand — once the city’s only five-star outlet with an erstwhile non-descript corner door that led inside — has indeed come a long way since then. Its broad and elaborate driveway, newly done-up rooms and improved ambience — offers an opulent outlook to everything that comes with the good things in life. We were ushered into our luxury suite on the second floor, opening to a grand view of the gleaming blue pool, dotted with royal palms. With four balconies, a sprawling living, dining and study area and a very comfortable bedroom — all furnished in creme and wood with a touch of the Victorian era — the suite is nothing short of Bengali Zamindari splendour at its best.
After freshening up we headed straight for lunch at the famed diner Threesixtythree°, where the executive chef Pappu Singh welcomed us with some very refreshing drinks, including the Barren island cocktail and Southern Winds as we waited for some specially curated dishes to arrive at our table. The ritzy allday diner emanating shades of white, red, beige and gold, offers a plethora of options in world cuisine including European, Asian, Indian and Japanese in its daily buffet spread, that has countless salad options, meat and fish preparations and a separate sushi/sashimi counter. We had the very popular Crackling Sushi, a vegetarian version of sushi made with tempura flakes, seaweed or nori sheets, kokuho rice, Japanese spices like togarashi and garnished with spicy mayo. It’s not a part of the buffet but you can order the same from the a la carte menu.
This was followed by an exotic beef entrée — stir-fried tenderloin and morning glory in green curry paste — alongside the diverse vegetarian and non-vegetarian salad platters comprising Burmese Tea salad, Mango Quinoa Salad, Chicken Waldorf Salad and Bacon with poached egg and Asparagus Tenderloin. We had them with some fresh cheese varieties including the salty Bandel cheese. By the time we finished all of this, we were already bursting at the seams and sampled small scoops of Chicken Cacciatore, the evergreen Kosha Mangsho and four-grain risotto from the main course, finishing off the meal with in-house milk Sandesh offerings. The takeaway from the lunch, apart from its balanced taste, was the undivided attention that each staff member extended to us.
It was late afternoon already and after some lazy moments by the pool, we headed for a very relaxing spa session that guests can opt for if they want. If you ask us, it was one of the best parts of our short stay. The royal spa and gym section just like the pool is exclusive to hotel guests and the spa room will transport you to the bygone colonial era with the interplay of gold chandeliers and framed mirrors. We opted for the two-hour body spa with Ayurvedic oils, and we slipped off into sweet slumber, losing track of time. The session ended with a very refreshing cup of organic green tea and the rest of the evening was spent listening to many an anecdote shared by the hotel’s concierge, Amitava Sarkar, as he took us around the old spots inside the Parador.
We ended the day with a wholesome dinner at Baan Thai, which is one of the city’s best spots to have a taste of authentic Thai cuisine. We settled for some Prawn Satay and Pla Neung Manao, a subtle dish of steamed baby bekti in a thin gravy of chilli, garlic, lemon and coriander and were bowled over by the perfect notes of spices used. It went delectably well with Jasmine rice and we savoured every bit of its soft texture well-soaked in the whole-spice marinade. We abstained from the desserts, but those of you with a sweet tooth must try the flavoursome options, especially the Tab Tim Samsee, an authentic version of the jellied water chestnut in chilled sweet coconut milk.
The next day began with a heritage walk of the city. You will be surprised to rediscover so many hidden gems (read St John’s Church, Job Charnock’s tomb and Dead Letter House) that remain in a neglected and forlorn state. The hour-long trek was followed by a swim and an invigorating foot spa and soon it was time for brunch before our checkout with some lip-smacking Manipuri Pork paired with steamed Jasmine rice at Threesixtythree°. We had this spicy dish with tall glasses of fresh watermelon juice.
What impressed us the most was the fact that the housekeeping staff was extremely meticulous with their job. We found a lady in uniform intensely checking for any speck of dust on objects of art strewn across the lobby and corridors. If you ask us, we would give a thumbs-up to the good food, great service and awesome rooms on offer for staycations. The rest is for you to come and experience.
Accommodation in a deluxe room starts at Rs 16,000 plus taxes per night.
The author was at The Oberoi Grand Kolkata on an invitation from The Oberoi group.