WHAT'S IT LIKE? Known as "the grande dame of Kolkata", the Oberoi has been around for more than a century and is an institution in the city. The huge white neo-classical building is an oasis of calm amid the hustle and hassle of the streets. The hotel has a central garden, with an outdoor swimming pool surrounded by palm trees and a grass area for dining. The restaurants also fringe the garden and rooms either look outwards over the city or inwards over the pool. Apart from the usual business facilities, the hotel also has a beauty salon, Banyan Tree spa, a doctor on call and a car rental service.
WHERE IS IT? Centrally located in the main business and shopping district of Kolkata (Park Street and Chowringhee). It is also a short taxi ride to all the major convention centres, as well as the consular district and the Chambers of Commerce. Kolkata Airport is 22 kilometres away, a drive which takes around 45 minutes depending on traffic.
HOW MANY ROOMS? 213, including 43 classic and 88 deluxe with city views, 73 premier with swimming pool views, three junior suites (51 sqm), three executive suites (71 sqm) and three deluxe suites (84 sqm).
ROOM FACILITIES All rooms have broadband internet access, dual telephone lines with dataport, a minibar, tea and coffee-making facilities, air-conditioning, a safe (which was too small for my Mac laptop) and a hairdryer. There was also a TV and DVD player, 24-hour room service and an express laundry facility, which I used every night as my baggage was delayed. The service was fantastic and my clothes were returned within four hours each time. I had a premier room with a balcony overlooking the palm trees and swimming pool in the courtyard. The room was classically furnished with dark wood and pale carpets, and there was a large work table by the window. The bathroom had a shower in the bath and toiletries. Junior suites have king-size beds and a dining table while executive suites have king-size four-poster beds, a separate living room, walk-in closet and two balconies. Deluxe suites also have three balconies. Breakfast and return airport transfers are included in the price of premier room categories and above.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS Breakfast is served in La Terrasse, a French-style brasserie which offers a range of international options for lunch and dinner. It is a bright and airy room with windows onto the corridor around the swimming pool. The dining alternative is Baan Thai, which serves superb authentic Thai fare and is very popular with locals. The Chowringhee Bar and Tea Lounge is open until midnight and has a pool table and televisions showing Sky Sports.
Leisure and fitness The hotel has a Banyan Tree spa, which offers aromatherapy, Ayurvedic treatments, and both eastern and western massage techniques. The gym is next to the spa and has a sauna and steam room. There is also the swimming pool in the middle of the complex surrounded by palm trees, with bar service for snacks and drinks.
MEETING AND BUSINESS FACILITIES There is a 24-hour business centre with a meeting room, secretarial and courier services, photocopier, fax, internet, and document binding. For meetings there are two rooms, which can hold 75 theatre-style and a boardroom which seats ten. There is also a telephone-conferencing facility. For large events there is the Ballroom, which can hold up to 800.
VERDICT A stunning hotel, which is a welcome retreat from the chaotic and heated streets of central Kolkata. Everything you need for both business and leisure is provided and the staff are helpful and efficient. The excellent Thai restaurant was a surprising and delicious discovery.
Prices Flexible rates for a midweek stay in mid April start from £86, room only.
CONTACT Oberoi Grand, 15 Jawaharlal Nehru Road, Kolkata 700 013, tel +91 33 2249 2323, oberoihotels.com.