When I was informed about having won the #KolkataCalling contest, organized by The Oberoi, Bengaluru, I was elated. The prize on offer was a two-night and three-day stay at the iconic, The Oberoi Grand, Kolkata and return air tickets, courtesy Jet Airways.
Calcutta- a city where I have spent almost two-thirds of my life; a city that I’ve been away from for almost a decade; but every single visit in that decade been enriching in more ways than one.
I reached Kolkata on the 1st of September, 2016 after a very comfortable two-hour Jet Airways flight from the Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru.
On the 2nd afternoon, I took one from the dying fleet of yellow and black Ambassador Cabs that navigated through the hustle and bustle of Burra Bazaar and reached The Oberoi Grand.
With its monarchical charm, The Oberoi Grand is a hotel property that is evocative of the days of yore.
Originally a private residence at No.3 Chowringee Road, it was later converted into a boarding house by one Mrs. Annie Monk, who expanded the accommodation to numbers 14, 15 and 17. Mr. Arathoon Stephen, who owned a theatre at number 16 ( which was incinerated in 1911 ) later bought out all the properties of Mrs. Monk, and, over time, redeveloped the site into what is affectionately in the Calcutta lexicon called ” Grand Hotel.”
In the 1930s, sometime after the death of Mr.Stephen, a typhoid epidemic in Calcutta resulted in the death of six people at the hotel. The drainage system at the hotel was suspected and the hotel was closed in 1937. The property was leased by Rai Bahadur Mohan Singh Oberoi, who reopened the hotel in 1939 and was able to buy the property outright in 1943.
It’s only fair to say that The Oberoi Grand, the first hotel acquired by M.S.Oberoi, laid the foundation for what is now the Oberoi Group of Hotel and Resorts.
From the imposing marble lobby, an almost century old grand piano from the house of Blüthner that is still played every evening, to the exquisite detailing in every room; the hotel is the epitome of grandeur, fine food and beverages, and the art of traditional hospitality.
A swift check-in and few formalities later, I was escorted to the premier room on the third level of the hotel’s property. As I walked through the stately corridor, I was amazed at the startling contrast between the decorous silence within the hotel and the cacophony from the surrounding market place.
My hotel room was everything I hoped it would be- spacious and elegantly appointed, an en-suite bathroom with fine toilet amenities from the house of Forest Essentials, and a balcony offering a pool-side view.
Although I could not experience much of the F&B offerings at the hotel, due to the ongoing up gradation of two of their restaurants, the breakfast setup at Baan Thai, their Thai specialty restaurant, offered a wide array of classic Indian and International dishes to choose from.
The warm hospitality and impeccable service is testament to the Oberoi Group being once again named the “World’s Best Hotel Brand.”
If you’re looking for a hotel that embodies Calcutta’s heritage and assures you of a comfortable and luxurious stay, The Oberoi Grand should be your choice. Reservations can be made on 033-22492323.
A note of thanks to Mr. Varun Chibber, the GM of the hotel; Mr. Shiraj Shikhar, Ms. Aparna Banerjee Paul and the entire team at The Oberoi Grand.