The Park Hyderabad – A Review By Punam Mohandas
True of many of its hotels, the Park Hyderabad too offers a somewhat funky look to its entrance, although the façade itself is unprepossessing.
As one enters the hotel through revolving doors, one is faced with the concierge desk, beyond which is some banquet space. The hotel lobby and Reception desk is on the third floor; naturally lit, it is a long, wide space with scattered seating and round rugs in fawn that overlooks both the swimming pool as well as the Hussain Sagar lake. The central lighting piece is of hanging glass bulbs in conical and cylindrical shapes. At the far end of the lobby is the Ruby lounge with its beautifully hand-painted ceiling that serves as a waiting lounge for groups that are checking in.
The Park Hyderabad has 263 keys, divided into the following categories: Residence Room (450sqft); Luxury Room (375sqft); Lake View Room (375sqft); Courtyard/Pool View (375sqft); Trillion Studio (605sqft); Panoramic Suite (700sqft); Enmeshed Suite (800sqft); La Sultana Suite (1800sqft); Osmania Suite (1250sqft) and the Presidential Suite (1755sqft.) Each floor is dedicated to a different gemstone, i.e. Ruby, Coral, Peridot, Emerald and Sapphire and hence, the room interiors are done up in shades pertinent to the gem thus represented.
The Presidential Suite has a living room done up in black and deep blue with dark grey curtains. To one side of this space is a seven seater round dining table in fiberglass. A smaller, separate room houses a work station and is surprisingly cozy, done up in black with throw cushions in deep turmeric and blue. The bedroom, in fawn and brown hues, is very spacious and also has an exercise machine. The suite also has a walk-in closet and dressing table space, while the bathroom has a bathtub, power shower area and twin washbasins. There is a separate pantry and small, guest powder room as well.
While the Residence rooms have a good view of the lake and have interiors done up in deep blue, the Lake View room, in which I stayed, has a touch of orange in the sofa upholstery as well as a large, circular disc cut into the bathroom wall. The room is quite spacious and well-lit. Simply furnished with a white stone flooring and dark striped rug under the bed, it has a long, wooden shelf serves as work desk as well as a repository for the tea/coffee makings. Although one can look down on to the rail tracks and see the passing trains below, the sound insulation is good and so there is no noise disturbance in the room; there are also double blinds for privacy. The bathroom is quite large, with a separate luggage space, shower cubicle and oval bathtub. There are thoughtfully placed amenities for lady guests such as herbal face packs and scrubs.
Room amenities include four, 500ml complimentary bottles of Aquafina water (more available on request), hot water kettle, minibar, electronic safe and large screen television. Most rooms have bathtubs.
F&B options include the 90-covers, multi cuisine, all-day dining Verandah with colourful seating, most of which overlooks the lake; there is also a 12-seater PDR available in this outlet. Good breakfast buffet, especially with regard to south Indian delicacies. The 20-covers Sicca Bar serves liquor and cigars and offers a gentlemen’s bar concept, while the 50-covers Carbon is more of a sports bar; designed like a coal pit, it offers finger food, combination meals and set menus. The Aqua Poolside Bar can accommodate 300-pax for small parties beside the pool; it has a most interesting showpiece almost six feet tall and in the shape of the Charminar structure, fashioned with 450 mini Charminars in Hyderabad’s famous black metal, stacked one atop the other. Of course, the signature restaurant is the 70-covers, Nizami dining Aish, also offering a 12-seater PDR. This outlet is done up in pale gold, with a hand-crafted wooden ceiling and a stone floor patterned with flowers – there is the most exquisite antique chair made of glass placed at the entrance, with emerald green cushions. Aish chef Mohsin is a real find and the Park should hang on to him; a Hyderabadi himself, he infuses his cooking with memories of his mother’s recipes and also the tutelage and guidance he received from Maryam apa, one of Hyderabad’s most well-known and beloved home cooking pioneers. I am fortunate to have tasted her food on several occasions when I lived in the city and indeed, found touches of it in what Mohsin served me – the patthar ka gosht was out of this world; succulent and tender, it had just the right dash of spices, while the ubiquitous haleem with sheermal did not disappoint. Mohsin’s own concoction, a shorba of peas and green chillies in coconut milk, had an extremely delicate flavour and was, in my opinion, the right start to a Hyderabadi repast. The khubani ka meetha needs some re-working, though.
Recreational facilities include a rather odd-shaped, outdoor swimming pool overlooking the Hussain Sagar lake. Moreover, there is the Aura Spa and a gym managed by the Park, while the hair salon is under external management. The gym is a small, functional space, with basic equipment and the spa has three single rooms (no shower facility in two rooms) while one single and a couple room offer shower, bathtub and steam room facilities. There is also a “sound therapy” room which is a relaxation zone of soft, piped music, where fresh fruits and green tea are served post the treatments.
At the street lobby level, there is The Box, which sells handcrafted gift items. Apart from this, there is the Kismet pub during the evenings that can accommodate from 200-300 pax and allows only couple entries, no stags. This space also has a VIP Lounge for 20-pax. Additionally, the hotel can organise day trips such as a city tour or Ramzan walk to the Old City (Charminar.)
Convention facilities include the Kismet meeting room at the street lobby level that can take upto 50pax, classroom style. A small space – Tresorie – can be used for exhibitions. The Trillion ballroom can be segmented into three halls; opened out, it can accommodate 800pax classroom style. The Living Room can take 30pax, while the Residence Lounge offers a sweeping view of the lake and can take 100pax; it also has a 12-seater boardroom. This space shares a kitchen with the Panoramic Hall that can accommodate 80pax. On the lobby level, there is an outdoor catering area across from the swimming pool that can accommodate 70pax. Furthermore, the Park offers free wifi across the hotel and also provides two computers for complimentary guest use.
This hotel opened in 2007 and there is no doubt that the Park initially put in a great deal of investment – as it does on all its properties – in ensuring it turned out a product worth reckoning with. However, years of neglect and guest misuse see this property now in urgent need of refurbishment. Relatively simple requirements should be promptly addressed, for instance, the tissue and toilet paper is rough and needs to be of better quality, while pest control needs to be taken more seriously. Installing jet sprays in the toilets would also be a good idea. The staff are ever-helpful, smiling and eager to please, but lack professional training.
It takes approximately 45-minutes to reach the hotel from the airport. The Park Hyderabad is situated on Raj Bhavan road; although the access to the hotel leaves much to be desired, location wise it is not that bad, as it is about 30minutes away from both Charminar as well as Secunderabad. It straddles the Hussain Sagar lake at the far end and so, although the large Buddha statue is not visible from the hotel, it is just about ten minutes away. Walking down from the hotel, one finds oneself in the midst of Somajiguda/Panjagutta with shops and restaurants, while Banjara Hills is about 10-15minutes drive away.
Hyderabad has possibly the most modern and state-of-the-art international airport, with most international carriers city and all national airlines, including low cost carriers, flying in to it. Airport bus tickets cost Rs 150 per head; you can also book a taxi or reserve the hotel’s limousine services.
THE PARK HYDERABAD
TEL: +91 40 2345 6789
FAX: +91 40 2333 1010
Punam Mohandas asserts her right to be identified as the author of this work. Any views or opinions expressed in this review is that of the author.