BACKGROUND Open since October last year, the 292-room ITC Royal Gardenia is a member of Starwood’s Luxury Collection. Owner ITC Welcomgroup is the hotel division of ITC, one of India’s largest home-grown conglomerates.
It is the second Bengaluru hotel for the group, after the ITC Windsor, and there are further properties in Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Kolkata.
WHAT'S IT LIKE? The modern pale stone structure is surrounded by vegetation, and inside the gates there is an island of plants and a water feature. The high-ceilinged lobby is open at both ends, which creates a gentle wind-tunnel effect, and is furnished with dark wood furniture, delicate sculptures, and walls of foliage. The check-in desks are to the right, while at the far end is the Lotus Pavilion, a grass-topped pagoda surrounded by flowing water, which houses a bar. The restaurants are to the left.
The hotel was built from scratch on environmentally friendly principles, and is India’s first to achieve Platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) status. Copper awnings above the windows absorb heat and deflect it from the room, meaning less air conditioning is needed. The design of the lobby also means it doesn’t need artificial cooling.
WHERE IS IT? In central Bengaluru, near the mall and business centre UB City, and local landmarks such as Cubbon Park and the High Court of Karnataka.
ROOM FACILITIES Entry-level Towers rooms are 41sqm in size and have a workdesk, flat-screen TV, safe and minibar. Some have balconies, and bathrooms come with a combined bath and shower or shower only. Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel, with the cost depending on the speed of download (Rs 250/US$5 to Rs 1,400/US$30 per day).
ITC One is the executive category with rooms measuring 57sqm. I stayed in an ITC One Eva room, on an exclusive floor for female travellers. I was given extra toiletries, mostly by ITC Welcomgroup’s sister company Fiama di Wills, including nail varnish, essential oils and perfume. On a desk by the bed was a videophone to answer the door, for added security.
The room was open-plan except for a walk-in wardrobe and a granite bathroom, which had a separate bath and rainshower. There was a lounge with a sofa and massage chair (noisy but effective), and a small balcony. Dividing the lounge and sleeping area was a partition wall with huge flat-screen TVs on either side. These switched on automatically, showing adverts for ITC’s hair products whenever I entered the room, which was a surprising waste of energy given the hotel’s green philosophy.
As an ITC One guest, I was also entitled to a free buffet breakfast, cocktails from 6pm to 8pm in the Upper Crust executive lounge, free use of a boardroom for up to three hours, and butler service. (My butler, Bibiana was great – friendly and helpful but not over-attentive.)
RESTAURANTS AND BARS The all-day dining restaurant Cubbon Pavilion serves international cuisine and is where breakfast is served. As Bengaluru is in southern India, I had the option of the local favourite dosa, a sort of thin, savoury pancake with rice and lentils – the chef does a wholegrain version which is delicious. A vertical garden covers an entire wall, and there is also a juice bar.
Other restaurants include Kebabs and Kurries, which, as you might guess, serves Indian cuisine and a grill, West View. There are two bars – Highland Nectar, focused on whisky, plus my favourite, the open-air Lotus Pavilion, which serves alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, tapas and hors d’oeuvres.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES The expansive meeting space is housed in one wing of the hotel, with a dedicated entrance featuring traditional artwork. The six function rooms cover 1,800sqm – the largest is the 729sqm Mysore hall, which the hotel claims is the largest pillarless ballroom in the city. It holds 600 people theatre-style. Cassia is well set up for board meetings, with an interactive whiteboard and video-conferencing facilities. There is also an outdoor terrace. The business centre, part of Upper Crust, has three computers, a printer and a fax.
LEISURE FACILITIES There is a well-equipped gym, a spa with seven treatment rooms and an open-air pool long enough to do laps in.
VERDICT A stunning building architecturally and a real achiever environmentally, with a great central location. Friendly, attentive staff and delicious food.
HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 292 rooms, including 36 ITC One rooms (five of which are in the Eva wing) and 13 suites, plus one of the largest Presidential suites in India, at 468 sqm.
ROOM HIGHLIGHTS The massage chair, powerful shower and balcony.
PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in September started from Rs 11,970 (US$226) for a Tower room.
CONTACT 1 Residency Road, Bengaluru, tel 91 80 2211 9898; www.itcwelcomgroup.in