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Monday, January 28, 2013

Review: Shahar Palace Hotel, Jaipur

While I was searching for a budget accommodation in Jaipur, I came across Shahar Palace on the internet. After comparing few other hotels, I zeroed in on Shahar Palace and called them to check if they’ ve rooms available. I got a reply in affirmative and I told I’ll arrive by late evening.
 There were couple of key reasons why I chose Shahar Palace.
·         First was the price- starting at Rs 875 per night (as per their website, but I was charged Rs 1500, more about it at the end)
·         Second, this place was very close (1.5 kms, walk-able) to Jaipur Railway Station. I had a 6 AM train (Jaipur-Delhi double decker), hence staying close to Railway station would save me the trouble of hunting for an auto at 5 AM in the morning (as well as the cost)
·         3rd reason was that this hotel is being run by a retired army personnel and his family (Colonel Virendra Singh, Retired). Felt such place will be more homely than a commercialized hotel
·         Campus photos shown on the website were good. It had a small garden around it
·         The website said “We have parking space for Caravans”.  I hoped I might be able to spot a caravan in the campus and get to take a close look (there were none though)
I arrived at Jaipur by 8 PM and reached the guest house. This post is a quick review of the Shahar Palace hotel in Jaipur, Rajastan.

Checkin: The owner greeted us upon arrival and completed check-in formalities quickly. I offered to pay an advance and asked how much they’re going to charge me. Military uncle asked me if his son has quoted any number. I said “No, we didn't take about rent, I only checked if you have rooms available. I’ve seen the rent on your website”. “Ok, I’ll check with my son” was the reply. The owner walked me to the room and explained the facilities.

About the room: I was offered a corner room, which was small in size but good enough for one person. The building is a bit old and so are the electrical. The water heater was starting to get rusted and power sockets were lose. My room didn't have any dedicated balcony, but once I step out, I could use common balcony. No heaters were available in the room to warm its occupants. No TV, No dressing mirror/table/cup board. It had only bare minimum furniture to keep my bag on or to sit. If you’re particular about these, either opt for next class or rooms or confirm in advance that you’ll get these facilities. Only one power socket was working properly. I didn't initially mind these short falls, considering I’ll be paying just around 900 Rs per day (only to be charged Rs 1500 per day in the end, details later) 
About the location and ambiance: Apart from occasional disturbance from speeding train, the location is away from city traffic and is quite silent. Shahar palace campus has a small garden, in which one case easily spot 3-5 kind of birds. The garden is good for spending a relaxed evening. A small stage is also available, useful for parties etc

Hospitality: Was good. Both colonel and his wife were very friendly, they spend good time with guests talking to them, providing information and entertainment. Doesn't usually happen in a hotel.

Security: There was no security guard at the entrance and the gate was left unlocked whole night. On my first day, at about 6.30 AM I left for a morning walk (went to central park). Not a single person was awake and gates were not locked (To be noted: the community has another gate near the main road, but was unguarded whenever I passed by). I opened the gate and went for a walk. On Day 2 I had to check out at 5 AM next day, I was told to settle the amount post dinner and leave early morning alone, as no one will be willing to compromise their sleep at that time in the day. May be it is a safe location with near zero theft risk, but I feel locking the gate and or having a chowkidar to be around (even if he spends most of the night sleeping instead of patrolling) would constitute basic security.

Checkout: As the internet published tariff was Rs 875 per night for single occupancy in the standard room, I was expecting a bill of around 2000 Rs for 2 days, rent + food included. However, I was charged Rs 1500 per night, under the pretext of Jaipur literary festival. I felt cheated. I wouldn’t have complained if the same was communicated during check-in. I would have fought back, argued or negotiated a bit, but respecting the old man for his hospitality and army background, I silently paid additional 1250 rupees (Rs 3000 for 2 nights, instead of Rs 1750 as per website). Not many good accommodation options are available for under 1500 Rs per day in Jaipur- even if I was informed of the hike during check-in, not sure if I would have opted out.
The hotel had good number of international tourists.

Food: Tea/Coffee costs Rs 50, other items priced in similar ratio. No complementary breakfast. I had a veg thali on Day 1, 2 Aloo parathas on day 2 and asked for curd rice on Day 2 dinner and bill amount was Rs 400+. Made by hired cooks, taste was fine, no complaints. No other restaurants anywhere nearby in 1.5 km radius, except road side tea shops.

Another fact I learnt later was that all big shots of Jaipur stay very close to this place-civil lines. Chief Minister's residence, Governor's residence are all just about a km or two from Shahar Palace in Civil lines.

The under construction metro also passes nearby. A fuel station, a Hanuman temple, 2 ATMs are nearby. A CCD outlet seem to be under construction.

What I liked at Shahar Palace
·         Homely feeling when owner and his wife sit with guests and having general conversation
·         Their pet dog
·         Overall ambiance of the campus
·         Closeness to Railway station

What I didn't like:
·         Instead of charging me extra during check out in the excuse of literary fest, they could have either updated their website with correct rate/note or told me about actual rent during check-in. They weren't running full anyway and I was a last minute customer and room would have been empty if I’d gone anywhere. A little more transparency would have won 100% satisfaction. Next time, I need to double confirm rent during check-in.
·         Food price could have been made a bit more affordable
·         Little more furniture/accessories in the room would have been nice
·         No security, gates unlocked all through the night. Not much help/service available early morning hours
·   No complementary breakfast

Do I recommend this place? I do, because it is cheap, decent and has good ambiance  But just take precautions to ensure what you're getting and what you'll be paying is  up to your satisfaction.

Visit their website for details: http://www.shaharpalace.com/, do double confirm the rates and don't assume anything. If you're expecting something (may be free breakfast or a TV in a room etc, get confirmation before hand)

Similar hotel reviews: Hotel Pattaya Garden, Pattaya * Peninsula Excelsior, Singapore * Le Fenix, Bangkok

5 comments:

Arnab Maity said...

Looks a real deal Srinidhi! Living in a palace and that too at that price. Lucky you, how did you find it out?

shovonc said...

You're remarkably civil for a guy who got ripped off!

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Shovonc :(

Arnab: found it on internet

Nisha said...

I agree with Shovonc here. But doesn't it happen with all of us? Probably we are too courteous to argue and they take advantage of it.

We have experienced similar situations many times. Sometimes I feel we should take them to task. "Website isn't updated" can't be an excuse.

I am glad that you wrote abt them. I will probably think twice to stay there, not because of the rates but because of the way the handled it.
Thanks.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Nisha

Thanks for dropping by and sharing your comments

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