Hotel Review: The Promenade, Pondicherry in India
Travel writer Bindu Gopal Rao discovers that a holiday in Pondicherry is elevated several notches higher when you stay at the heritage building that now houses one of the upmarket hospitality projects here – The Promenade.
One of my most favourite cities in India is Pondicherry and a destination that I am always happy to go back to this city. One of the reasons that this is a city that remains attractive is the fact that this was India’s largest French colony until 1954. In fact French is one of the languages spoken here and there is a French connection in everything from its architecture to food and even the road signage’s.
Located in the heart of White Town overlooking the Rock Beach is a pristine white hued property that was once the premises of the All India Radio and has been diligently converted to The Promenade. With a clean minimalist design, the exterior façade is colonial French and it never really stands out from the rest of the buildings and can easily pass off as a home in the vicinity.
Designed by the renowned American architect and potter Ray Meeker, the façade of The Promenade hotel was kept in sync with the French colonial buildings that dot the entire stretch of Pondicherry’s promenade. The interiors of this modern hotel were designed by German architect, Niels Schoenfelder while Made Wijaya the Australian landscape specialist from Bali has designed the rooftop, garden and lounge pool.
As I got off my car at the entrance was a whiff of the sea as well as the sound of the crashing waves that gave me a strong sense of déjà vu. After completing the check-in formalities, I am led into my room on the second floor. Done up in hues white with pops of tan and turquoise, the room is spacious and inviting.
There were three large wooden shutters for the windows that opened to stunning views of the ocean and the promenade, and being a Sunday the entire road is closed to vehicular movement as well. The stunning view and the comfortable room made me relax and forget the fatigue of the trip immediately. The room came with an attached bathroom and was equipped with all modern amenities. A set of chocolates and some croissants were also part of the welcome amenities in the room.
Indo French Cuisine
The Promenade has three food and beverage outlets in its premises which include The Blueline, their all day diner open round the clock which is a multi-cuisine restaurant that serves a wide range of Continental, Indian and Mediterranean dishes. This is where there is a breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet.
The Sunday brunch is an extravagant affair and with an al fresco seating space overlooking the beach this makes for a great venue. The a la carte menu here has a variety of dishes but do make sure to try some of the Creole dishes here that merge the Tamil and French cuisines of the region.
For a quiet dinner head to the rooftop restaurant The Bay of Buddha that gives you a nice view of the old Lighthouse on one side and overlooks the ocean. This is where you can sample an array of Pan Asian cuisine and the open air restaurant is perfect for the evenings in Pondicherry.
Try some of the chef specials like the Thai Sweet Corn Cakes that are Kaffir lime flavoured crispy corn fritters, Coconut Prawns made with Thai coconut crumbed and crisp fried prawns with sweet chilli sauce, and Ginger Poached Chicken Breast which is a Vietnamese chicken breast with fragrant ginger and Chinese mushroom broth.
Do try the special dessert The Tamarind Tossed Apple Pavlova made with sweet and tangy meringue and tamarind flavoured apple. If you are a seafood fan try the dishes made with Red Snapper, a sweet, firm, white, textured fish that is available locally. If you are looking for a fun night out, head to ‘The Storytellers Bar’ on the basement level. This is where you can enjoy Chef special cocktails and drinks and this place is usually abuzz with events happening all the time.
If you are looking to relax, it is recommended to visit the in house Serena Spa that offers a range of treatments that is sure to rejuvenate and refresh you. If you are short on time, do try their invigorating foot massage or the relaxing back massage. These are therapies that will remove the travel stress in a jiffy. There is also a small gym on the premises here.
Since The Promenade is a Hidesign Hotel, a brand known for its top notch leather goods, you can shop at the in house store Le Pondicherry that offers a curated selection of some of the best that Pondicherry creates. From candles, vegan chocolates, studio pottery, post cards, handbags, sunglasses and accessories there is all this and more here.
According to the founder and owner Dilip Kapur, “this hotel set a trend of sorts as it was one of the first heritage building that was converted into a hotel. Today many others have followed suit. We had several problems when we started the project but over time we were able to build it exactly how we envisioned it. I was happy when we had Sarovar Hotels & Resorts come in to manage the place and it has been like that ever since.”
So make sure that you check into The Promenade for your next visit – you will come away with a bit of Pondicherry with you.
Address: 23, Goubert Ave, White Town, Puducherry, 605001, India
Phone: +91 413 222 7750
Images courtesy of The Promenade