WHAT’S IT LIKE? Taj Mount Road, which opened in December last year, is one of the latest additions to the Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces portfolio of more than 60 properties in India and about 15 worldwide. It’s also the fourth Taj hotel to open in Chennai, the others being Taj Coromandel and Taj Connemara, both close by in the city centre, and Taj Fisherman’s Cove, a beachside property about an hour’s drive away. The new-build seven-floor hotel, which has a blue-glass façade that glows at night, is aimed squarely at the business market and has a fresh, modern design, contrasting with the more traditional décor in the other two city-centre properties.
As you’d expect after the terrorist attacks in Mumbai late last year, security is tight at Taj properties and all guests must go through a scanner machine and undergo a body search before entering the hotel. After this rather sombre process, you enter into a spacious lobby with a pale marble floor, honey-coloured wood panels and a huge yellow-glass chandelier. Ahead is reception, to the left is a funky-looking seating area and beyond that is a bar and restaurant. A big glass bowl filled with floating flowers sits in the centre of the lobby and striking Indian art lines the walls.
WHERE IS IT? The hotel is in a good location on Clubhouse Road, off Anna Salai (formerly Mount Road), the city’s main commercial thoroughfare and home to many of its shops and businesses. It’s 16km from Chennai airport, roughly a 45-minute drive, although it’s best to leave more time during peak hours as traffic can be heavy.
ROOM FACILITIES There are 220 rooms of varying categories, including 16 suites. I stayed in a Premium room on the fifth floor, which was spacious and decorated in neutral shades, with a pale marble floor, cream walls and light-wood furniture. It had a comfortable king-size bed with a beige leather and suede headboard, facing which was a large flatscreen TV that played a selection of Indian and international channels (I couldn’t always get a signal). An iPod jack allowed me to play my tunes through the TV, which was much appreciated, and there was a DVD player with DVDs available from reception. A glass workdesk curved out from the wall in front of the window and was teamed with a black leather executive-style chair. There were plenty of plug sockets and the view from the window was of the city below. A large wardrobe provided lots of hanging space.
The bathroom was gleaming, as you’d expect in a new hotel. It was decked out in beige and black marble and had a walk-in shower with double showerheads for extra power (lower category rooms have only one showerhead). There was a large sink but no bath. Toiletries were by Forest Essentials and there was an array of Taj-branded amenities including a comb, toothbrush and paste and a loofah. Also provided was a box containing a nail file, nail polish remover, nail clipper, talc, feminine hygiene products and safety pins. The hairdryer was the non-removable type.
Other features included tea and coffee-making facilities, free fruit and mineral water, adjustable air conditioning, a light robe, slippers, a laptop safe, free newspapers delivered daily, wireless internet access charged at Rs 662/£9 for 24 hours (the connection could be very slow at times) and a minibar containing beer, spirits, soft drinks and snacks. Premium rooms also come with access to the executive lounge on the sixth floor, where guests can grab breakfast and hot drinks, use the computer and enjoy the free cocktail hour in the evening.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS Club House is the all-day diner to the left of reception. It offers European cuisine and the buffet breakfast is served here, which includes eggs cooked to order. It’s an airy room with a relaxed atmosphere, and a huge 100-year-old raintree is visible through a skylight. Also on the ground floor is Beyond Indus, a sumptuous room dressed in reds and golds with velvet and leather sofas, where North Indian food is served. Next to this is the chic bar Blend, and just inside the entrance is the Deli, serving pastries, chocolates and sandwiches. On the rooftop, next to the pool, is Kefi, a Mediterranean restaurant open for dinner and decorated in Greek taverna style. I sat outside here one night and soaked in the sights and sounds of the city while eating a delicious range of hot and cold meze.
MEETING AND BUSINESS FACILITIES On the ground floor, past the Deli, is a banqueting hall that holds up to 400 guests. It has a pre-function area and can be partitioned into two for smaller gatherings. On the sixth floor are a boardroom for up to 12 people and two meetings rooms with a maximum capacity of 30. The hotel also has a business centre with a computer and photocopier.
LEISURE FACILITIES The rooftop pool is surrounded by sunbeds and is open from 7.30am to 9pm. Next to this, indoors, is the 24-hour gym, which boasts Life Fitness equipment and great views of the city. There are also plans to build a spa.
VERDICT A good-quality business hotel in a convenient location with excellent dining options.
HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 220 in total – 38 Superior rooms, 107 Deluxe rooms, 59 Premium rooms, nine Executive suites, six Deluxe suites and an as-yet-unfinished Presidential suite (it’s expected to open towards the end of the year).
ROOM HIGHLIGHTS The comfortable bed, the large amount of storage space and the iPod jack.
PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in April started from Rs 9,850 (£132) for a Deluxe room.
CONTACT Taj Mount Road, No 2 Clubhouse Road; tel +91 44 6631 3131; tajhotels.com