Lemon Tree Chandigarh- A Review By Rajiv Bajaj
I was to visit Chandigarh city for a day for official work, along with a colleague and was looking for a decent hotel to book online, when an offer by Lemon Tree Chandigarh caught my attention on one of the online booking sites. Since I wanted to check more details of the property, I visited the website of Lemon Tree and found that they had a special sign-up offer for new members.
I promptly signed up and booked the hotel for one night, with a request for arrival transfer to be arranged for me on arrival at the railway station. When we reached Chandigarh at about 1115 hrs, the driver was waiting outside with a placard, and the vehicle was a clean and comfortable Innova van. The drive to the hotel itself was a mere 10 minutes.
Firstly, I would like to touch upon the location of the hotel. The hotel is located in the Industrial Area of Chandigarh city, so I was a little apprehensive about it, since the term “industrial area” tends to conjure up images of an unclean, congested, noisy area. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the area was quite clean, and quite peaceful. Those who are looking for a downtown hotel may not find the location very convenient. However, bearing in mind the fact that Chandigarh is not a very big city, one can certainly overlook this aspect.
The exterior of the building was not very impressive, and the entrance itself was quite small, which again made me wonder if I had made the right choice. The ground level only had a small area where an x-ray security scanner is installed, next to the two elevators. After the mandatory security check, we took the elevator to the Lobby Level, which is on the first floor of the building. Any apprehensions that I may have had about the hotel were soon dispelled after we entered the lobby.
The first thing that one becomes aware of upon entering the lobby is the signature lemon aroma which is the hallmark of all Lemon Tree hotels that I have visited so far. The lobby itself is not very big, with a seating area meant for about 8 to 10 persons. But then again, the lobby is not a place where the guest has to spend too much time. We presented ourselves at the reception to be greeted very warmly by two very young, but professional front office staff. They took us through the check-in formalities within a matter of minutes.
I had seen on the website as well as on my reservation confirmation mail that the check-in time is 1400 Hrs, but due to the early arrival time of our train, we had reached the hotel at about 1150 hrs, so I wasn’t sure if we would get a room straight away or would have to wait. I had also requested for a smoking room with twin-beds. Unfortunately, this was not available immediately. The young lady at the reception offered us a smoking room with a king-sized bed in the interim, assuring us that we would be moved to a twin-bedded room as soon as it was ready. Since we were not in a hurry, we opted to wait in the lobby till the room was ready to be occupied, and made ourselves comfortable in the lobby. The young lady once again came up to us and asked us if we would like to have some tea/coffee while we waited, and upon my request, coffee was arranged and served to us in the lobby. Excellent coffee, I must say.
Shortly thereafter, we were informed that the room was ready and were handed over the key to room 405 on the 4th floor – a smoking twin-bedded room. Upon reaching the room, I had just about inserted the key into the lock when a housekeeping attendant working in the corridor came rushing to us and informed us that we were entering the wrong room, as the room made ready for us was 408, and room 405 was already occupied by another guest ! He took us further down the corridor and opened room 408 for us, and went down to fetch the right key for us. True to his word, he was back within minutes with the correct key, and we also got a call from the young lady at the reception, who was extremely apologetic about the mix-up. In fact, later in the day when we went down to drop the key at the reception while stepping out of the hotel, she once again offered her apologies.
One thing that you will definitely not fail to notice at the Lemon Tree Chandigarh is the very visible attempt to make the overall atmosphere quite visibly appealing, cheerful and light-hearted, what with the very vibrant abstract paintings that can be found all over the hotel, lining up the walls of the corridor, as well as above the beds in the room. You will also come across framed t-shirts with funny one-liners placed at strategic locations across the hotel, as also the funny one-liners on the walls of the washroom in the lobby area.
The room itself was quite nice and comfortable. Though not very big in size (200 sq.ft – base category), at no point does one feel cramped in the room. Aesthetically, the room was very appealing and tastefully done up. The beds were quite comfortable, and the sheets as well as the pillow covers were spotless. The wooden flooring too was very clean. There was a workstation at one end of the room which was again spacious enough for one person to work using a laptop. Our package included the free use of wi-fi. However, the signal was only strong intermittently. They probably need to boost that a bit because I frequently had the issue of a speed drop while using the net connection on my laptop, and had to disconnect / reconnect often in order to get a better speed.
The bathroom was not very big, but then again, not cramped either. It had a separate recessed shower cubicle. As was the case with the room, the bathroom too was spotless. The facilities inside the bathroom included a hair dryer, a separate shaving mirror, and complimentary toiletries kit comprising of toothbrushes & Toothpaste, comb, assortment of moisturizers etc. Liquid soap and shower gel dispensers were mounted on the wall near the wash basin as well as in the shower cubicle. The specially packed bathing soap was again lemon-scented.
The windows provided sufficient lighting in the room without having to switch on the lights, and later during the day, when I wanted to rest, the thick blinds very effectively blocked all external light. The other room amenities included a flat-screen TV, free tea/coffee maker, with ample sachets of coffee, sugar and tea bags provided, as well as two complimentary bottles of water. The room was also equipped with a mini-bar and a small refrigerator, an electronic safe and a decent sized wardrobe, next to which was a full-length mirror.
As part of our package, dinner and breakfast for two people was included in the tariff, and for any other Food & Beverage consumption, a discount of 10% was being offered. Later in the evening, we went down for dinner, and I had also invited a friend over to join us. The dinner was a buffet layout, and as far as the food was concerned, I will not go as far as to say that it was excellent, but yes, it was good. When we finished our dinner, I informed the restaurant staff to bill us for the third person. I also informed him that as per our package, we should be getting a discount of 10% on the food bill. However, he seemed to be unaware about this offer and called up the front desk to verify the same. What was a little surprising, however, was that even the front desk staff did not seem to be aware of this. However, to give full credit to the restaurant staff, he did not keep us waiting and simply raised the billing with the 10% discount and got it signed from us, saying that he would sort it out later with the front office.
The breakfast next morning was definitely a better affair than the dinner. The buffet spread was good, with a fair selection of cereals, fresh juice, Indian as well continental dishes, and a live egg counter.
After a good breakfast, we checked out of the hotel. The check-out again was as smooth as the check-in, and the staffs on duty at the reception were as courteous and helpful as the ones who had been manning the reception previous day when we had arrived.
My Verdict –
To sum up, here, in my view are the plus and minus points of the Lemon Tree Chandigarh – Good, peaceful location, close to the railway station. Also, the Lemon Tree Chandigarh is a five-minute walk away from one of the best malls in North India – Elante. Should one feel like having a meal outside, or do some shopping, this is the right place to visit. And definitely, service at the hotel was excellent.
On the minus side, there is not much that I can think of, except the minor mix-up concerning the wrong room key being given, and the issue of their staff being unaware of the 10% discount offer in my billing plan. In fact, the second point should be of some concern to them, as the hallmark of good service in the hospitality industry is awareness of the products and services. Things like this should automatically be updated in the guest profile, so that any point of contact knows what the guest entitlements / inclusions are, without the need for them to have it cross-checked.
Small issues like this, however, become insignificant when the service and overall atmosphere at the hotel is great and one is made to feel welcome throughout the hotel. I would definitely use the Lemon Tree Chandigarh again on my next trip.
Rajiv Bajaj asserts his right to be identified as the author of this work. Any views or opinions expressed in this review is that of the author. All copyright and pictures are the property of the author.