When I was growing up in Delhi, Shimla in Himachal Pradesh, was the summer holiday destination of choice. It continues to be a popular tourist destination, for its unbeatable colonial charm, lovely weather, wide range of accommodation options and good connectivity. Last week, I explored Solan in Himachal Pradesh (click here), and next week I will cover Shimla in depth. Today, I am reviewing ‘The Clarke’s Hotel’, where I stayed in Shimla, last month.
THE CLARKE’S HOTEL, SHIMLA:
This hotel is the first property owned and run by the famed Oberoi group of hotels, and is one of the oldest heritage properties in India. Located at the tip of the Mall Road in Shimla, it has been in business since 1898. Before India became independent, its owner Mr. Clarke sold the hotel to Mr. Mohan Singh Oberoi who worked at the hotel, at a throwaway price. After ‘The Clarke’s Hotel’, Mr. Oberoi grew by leaps and bounds in the hospitality industry. The Oberoi Group has maintained this hotel exactly as it was in the days of the British Raj.
If you would prefer to read just the review portion, you can scroll to the end of this post.
The famous Dining Hall at The Clarke’s Hotel, Shimla
BOOKINGS AND HOW TO GET THERE:
Shimla is about an 8-9 hour drive from Delhi. One can take a flight to Chandigarh and drive up, or a train to Kalka and drive up. One can also take the Toy Train from Kalka to Shimla. Though Shimla has an airport, it does not function on a daily basis due to unpredictable weather conditions.
TYPES OF ROOMS:
Superior Rooms: Comfortable twin beds and modern amenities but no view. Starting at INR 9,000 per night.
Deluxe Rooms: Comfortable twin beds, writing table, modern amenities, mini bar with partial view of Shimla valley. Starting at INR 9,500 per night.
Premier Rooms: Comfortable king-sized beds with ample room and seating space. Choice of view of mall road or partial Shimla valley. Starting at INR 10,000 per night.
Suites: King sized bedroom, adjoining room and reading lobby with views of partial Shimla valley. Starting at INR 13,000 per night.
From L-R: Club Sandwich, Fish & Chips and Nasi Goreng served at The Dining Hall
THINGS TO DO IN THE HOTEL:
The Dining Hall:
This dining space was built in the British era and boasts a unique pillar-less design. Enjoy panoramic views of the city and the mountains, while sampling their delicious multi-cuisine spread.
Breakfast is included in some packages, but not all.
The Lounge Bar:
The bar is located just off the reception area, and offers an intimate and enjoyable colonial ambiance.
The Terrace offers fantastic views of the mountains. Enjoy a cup of tea or coffee, or something stronger if you wish, throughout the day.
Shimla by night viewed from The Terrace at The Clarke’s Hotel, Shimla
Live Evening Barbeque:
When the weather permits, the hotel organizes a live barbeque on ‘The Terrace’, where one can enjoy some gorgeous views of Shimla by night. Food and drinks are served from 7:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.
MEETINGS AND CORPORATE PACKAGES:
The two large banquet halls are fully equipped and can seat up to 100 people for corporate events and meetings.
Residents of the hotel can park their cars in the hotel’s parking lot. Shimla’s mall road is entirely pedestrian and parking cars can be a huge problem.
A lovely breakfast at The Clarke’s Hotel, Shimla
REVIEW OF THE HOTEL:
The Oberoi Group has maintained this hotel like a bungalow from the British era. With just 32 rooms, one dining space and a bar, it is an intimate boutique property. This allows one to have an uber-luxurious experience in a historic setting, at a reasonable price.
The real charm is the colonial ambiance and unbeatable location. One can amble along the mall road for an evening stroll and enjoy the sights of Shimla, a mere stone’s throw from the hotel. It is located 10 minutes from the train station and 20 minutes from the Jakhu ropeway which takes you up to the iconic Jakhu Temple.
My family consisting of 4 adults, 1 child and 1 nanny, booked a suite and a Deluxe Room for one night. The Suite was very spacious and comfortable. The rooms were clean, the wifi was functional and the bathroom had a tub and a shower facility.
Our nanny was given an extra bed in the adjoining room since the hotel does not have facilities for maid/driver stay. However, she was provided staff meals at a discounted rate of INR 250 in the room.
We enjoyed all three meals we ate at the dining hall. My pick of everything would be the Fried Fish & Chips, the Club Sandwich, the Cream of Tomato Soup and the Malaysian Nasi Goreng. The staff at the dining hall is particularly attentive and courteous, going out of their way to help.
In fact, every member of staff was amiable, willing and prompt at performing their duties. When the evening barbecue was cancelled due to rain, my father expressed a wish to have an umbrella put on the terrace, to enjoy his evening drink with a view. The staff obliged without complaint. We were allowed a later-than-usual check out and the entire process was very smooth. The hotel staff courteously couriered my phone charger home because I left it behind.
I had a wonderful stay at The Clarke’s Hotel, Shimla, and I will certainly return to partake of their fabulous hospitality, steeped in unmatched charm.
Hotel rating: 5/5
If you liked reading this review, you may enjoy reading my other hotel reviews from India and abroad here.
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