With its signature luxury offerings combined with local touches, Hilton’s Conrad brand has put an enviable stamp in Pune with the Conrad Pune hotel
By: Suman Tarafdar
Posted on: May 29, 2019
LF Says: ★★★★.5
Friendly, relaxed, youthful, cultural – for long, these are the more usual adjectives used to describe Pune, where the pace of life is so much gentler than Mumbai. Located just a short distance across the upper extensions of the Sahyadris, it is known for its plethora of educational institutions. Of late, however, it has emerged as a tech-industrial hub, and with a new metro system, the city is in transformation mode.
A potent symbol of this transformation are shiny, sleek buildings, arguably the most impressive of which is the new Conrad, Hilton’s flagship hotel brand in India, also incidentally the first hotel for the brand in India.
The feeling of being in the lap of luxury starts right from the moment one steps into the lobby. This is a large tower hotel, yet the feeling of spaciousness is not compromised - a sense you get straightaway as you enter the hotel via a raised driveway. Forty-feet high ceilings leave you ample space to admire the cascading water features, innovative lighting and striking art. Plush velvet sofas and chairs in shades of brown and blue atop matching carpets help you relax immediately. The usually pesky reception desk is removed well to the left as you enter. Instead, just at the entrance, is a counter full of delectable cakes, cookies, croissants – which you make a mental note of indulging into at a more opportune moment. This level allows glimpses to the rather spectacular diner, Coriander Kitchen and its adjacent lawns below, adding another element to the visual splendour.
Owned by the K. Raheja Group, no expense seems to have been spared in enhancing the lavish look. “Conrad Pune is uniquely positioned to cater to the needs of the new generation of smart luxury travellers, offering access to a world of connections and inspired experiences,” asserts Shubham Chandra, General Manager.
Smart luxury seems to the underlying theme across the hotel. This is a business hotel, aimed at the corporate customer, and no effort has been spared on the luxury touches.
Food to Eat
Conrad Pune has a number of premium dining options. Coriander Kitchen offers breakfast, lunch and dinner with street-food inspired cuisine with Asian, Indian and Mediterranean influences. It offers multiple live cooking counters, market-style food displays – but in the Conrad standard, where a culinary library with tiny temperature-controlled shelves offers small eats! There’s the option of indoor and outdoor seating too, making it even more inviting. The buffet is extensive, and though the fare is a mix of Indian and international cuisines, there is a sprinkling of local fare too.
Koji, the Asian speciality restaurant, serves Japanese, Chinese and Thai cuisines in a distinctly oriental décor. Within, or adjacent to it is Masu, the bar, connected by a passageway with beautifully lit oriental pots. Indeed, the bar again exudes a feeling of luxury, with an array of gorgeous lighting lending cosiness to the space. Note the wall display showcasing rice wines from around Asia, while the bar offers signature drinks from an Asian-inspired cocktail menu.
For those yearning for Indian fare, drop in to Zeera, which among other options, offers regional thalis. Note of caution – attempting one of these could ensure enough food intake for a few days! For those who select in advance, there’s a vast wine wall from which you could select your meal accompaniment.
There is also Kabana, a pool bar, and Pune Sugar Box, a little delicatessen in the lobby. For those staying in the Executive Rooms, there’s a separate Executive Lounge on the 13th floor, offering wonderful views of the city.
Relax, Rejuvenate, Lean Back
In keeping with the demands of the modern global traveller, the hotel has a dedicated rejuvenation floor. This includes the Conrad Spa, which offers a variety of relaxation options and therapies. There is also the city’s first outdoor temperature-controlled pool, a kids’ pool, and 24-hour fitness centre.
A star for the hotel are undoubtedly its smart, plush, rooms, which amply reflect the principles of smart luxury. Lighting is through motion sensors, which automatically turn off – or on – as you move around. These ‘Intelligent Rooms’ sense the guest’s arrival and switch from energy saving mode to ‘occupied’, activating the air-conditioning system, drawing curtains and adjusting the lights to suit the time of day. The control touch panel for all gadgets is sleek, and backlit, which is especially convenient at night.
The signature Conrad amenities are all in place - plush bedding and five-fixture marble bathrooms with walk-in rain showers and soak tubs. The rooms are spacious, with the smallest size at 450 square feet. The hotel’s 310 guest rooms include 20 suites. A well-stocked mini bar, comfy sofas, a round dining table, an ample work desk, huge (almost French) windows, safes, slippers, robes – there’s a lot to make any guest feel spoilt. There are multiple televisions, including one in the bathroom’s wall-to-wall mirror. The bathroom is clad in white marble and comes stocked with a bunch of amenities in an imposing black box.
1/3/5 - How Much Time Do You Have
Of course, the famed 1/3/5 service is on offer, almost as an extension to the hotel. Conrad designs itineraries and activities that are 1, 3 and 5 hours long, depending on how much time you have to spare. Conrad Pune offers a fascinating set of these tours, and one is hard-pressed to choose. For those eager to learn about the city’s roots, tours include visits to the historic Aga Khan Palace in Kalyani Nagar (quite near the hotel) to Shaniwar Wada, a commanding 18th-century fort that served as the seat of the region’s Peshwa rulers. For the more religiously inclined, a visit to the rock-carved eighth-century Pataleshwar Cave Temple or the Osho Meditation Resort, home to the former controversial godman Rajneesh, are part of the list.
Another possible outing is to Jadhavgadh Fort, now a heritage hotel, with an audio guide tour. Photographing the historic buildings lining the Sharbatwalla Chowk neighbourhood is another option, as is visiting the old city. Expect the unexpected at Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum, another landmark for the city.
For those looking for more modern options, there’s an ambitious art project. Or try delicious Maharashtrian street food such as the iconic misal pav and vada pav. Check on the hotness factor, though, as these can cause the uninitiated considerable discomfort. Parsi Mawa Cakes and Shrewsbury biscuits from Kayani Bakery can, however, soothe the tongue somewhat. Then there’s bar hopping as Pune’s burgeoning craft-brewing scene takes off.
Conrad Pune has set a benchmark for the city, and indeed is sure to be counted amongst the best business hotels in the country. Even if you are not a business traveller, you would welcome a city break here. More than once!
LF Says: ★★★★.5
Coordinates: 7 Mangaldas Road, Pune, India