I was in India four times in the last year and a half. Each time I was there I would receive many emails from our readers and friends asking me to tell them my favorite places to stay. Since I'm not the best writer "from the road" and since there were too many emails to respond to individually, I decided that once I got home I would write a monthly series for the next few months on my favorite places I stayed while there.
After spending plenty of time in very simple cave/huts, homes of friends, and austere ashrams filming Saints and Guru's for my "Saints Speak Out" documentary, from time to time I would develop an almost manic need to locate a five star hotel and drench myself in the pure unadulterated luxury of fine food, Ayurvedic massages, and incredible spas!
One of my all time favorite places was the Bangalore Oberoi. This wonderfully quaint hotel never let me down. Designed to meet every need of the business traveler, the Oberoi is really for those of us who love to be pampered.
Known as the "Garden City," Bangalore is the "Silicon Valley" of India's fast-growing economy and the Oberoi is located in the heart of the city only twenty minutes from the airport. Conveniently close to some of my favorite shopping, the hotel is tucked away among massive tropical landscape. Even though you are right in the center of the city and all of the incredible shop til you drop shopping (as well as the main business centers, if you must do business), you still feel as if you're living among nature once you enter the Oberoi's grounds.
My room looked out over incredible gardens with ponds and waterfalls and wonderful little walking paths that led to one of the hotel's three incredible restaurants. When exclaiming to one of the staff that I must have gotten one of the best rooms, I was told to my amazement that all of the rooms had similar views. What I appreciated most about this home away from home, was that it only had 160 rooms, giving it that personal, homey atmosphere which is hard to find when staying in most hotels in any part of the world.
I entered my beautiful room and beelined straight for the shower. To my delight I found that my shampoo, conditioner, soap and crème were all Ayurvedic. When I got into the shower I was almost squealing in delight. My shower had its own built in steam room! Perfect for getting over any traveler's fatigue. Now this was my kind of bathroom experience!
My bed…Oh that bed. The Oberoi knew just what the traveler looked for in a bed that would allow one to fall off into a blissful sleep.
Bangalore is one of India's main business centers so if you're going to Bangalore, there's a good chance you're going on business. If that's the case, have no worries about your ability to do anything and everything you can do at the finest business hotels in North America.
Rooms come with two line phones so you never miss a call, voice mail, and in-room broadband Internet access. The business center is open 24 hours a day and provides all the services you would ever want. The Oberoi is also ideal for meetings. The Orchid seats 180 theater style, and two conference rooms are equipped with satellite teleconferencing facilities so you can conference with your team at home.
But it's the restaurants which will make your stay special. After eating mostly rice, dahl and chapattis wherever I stayed, it was a total orgasmic experience to enjoy the food at all three of the Oberoi's restaurants. The authentic Chinese Szechwan style menu (try their vegetarian curry dish!) at the elegant Szechwan Court was divine. Rim Nam, a Thai restaurant in the most beautiful garden setting was about as romantic as could be (too bad I was alone!!). Then for dessert and tea, Le Jardin had one of the best dessert tables in all of India.
For us ladies, some things are more important than others. Hair is definitely on the important list. When I went down to the hair salon I was greeted by not just one friendly person, but all five of the salon staff. They immediately made me a cup of hot chai, sat me down in the cushiest of chairs, and started performing their magic, all the while spreading their good cheer to everyone who walked in the salon.
I came in looking like I had been hiking in the mountains without food and water for weeks and left the salon feeling like the cowardly lion in the wizard of Oz after all the loving attention he received while getting his manicure, facial and massage in Emerald City before his infamous meeting with Oz. In other words, I left feeling like a queen who had been loved all over!
For me, the most important aspect of my stay in any hotel is the staff and the attitude they convey. The Oberoi won hands down for the sweetest most courteous hotel personnel I have ever encountered.
I have to personally thank Pinky Mukerjee, one of the Oberoi staff, for going out of her way more than once to make sure my experience at the Oberoi was totally sublime. To my dear readers, make sure if you plan to visit Bangalore and stay at the Oberoi to ask for Pinky and mention that Janet sent you. I promise you'll be so happy that you might even bring me a present home