One bright sunny Saturday, I decided to join the weekend getaway bandwagon; and showed up at Vivanta by Taj, Surajkund in an attempt to size up the property for a review while idling my way through the weekend. During my first visit for lunch a few months ago, I quite liked the hotel and ended up there once again to kill two birds with one stone.
One of the basic requirements from a “getaway” is the distance between the hotel and home. One expects a 45 minute drive to the location, considered a decent enough time for a good drive to give you the roadtrip feels; yet close enough to give you enough time to enjoy the place. In that aspect, Taj Surajkund lives up to getaway expectations, though its location comes with serious drawbacks. Not only is the area extremely unsafe, and unfit to venture outside for anything- not even chips or alcohol, it also has no fast food restaurants in close proximity. You’re stuck eating the grossly overpriced (though fairly delicious!) food at the hotel.
The lobby area is one of my favorites, with enough sunlight pouring in, to keep the good vibes coming. While it looks stunning on the outside, the design isn’t all that user friendly. You need to walk around the entire property to make it to the restaurants, need to switch lifts mid-way to reach the top floors, and walk two floors down to the changing rooms before you can hit the pool. The bar by the pool doesn’t serve liquor, nor does it serve Mocktails or iced tea. They only serve shakes! An odd concept for a luxury hotel, I should think. The rooms are dimly lit, as are several corners of the hotel. Since the property was acquired from a fairly old Claridges, the furnishings in the room and washrooms aren’t all that modern. There’s a pottery studio to keep the kids occupied, as well as pastry shop for anyone looking to get a quick bite without splurging a month’s salary at the restaurants. The pool is quite large and pool area is fairly well made. I was surprised to find that the water was quite muddy. A closer look helped me discover the leaves and feather among other dirt floating in the pool.
The rooms are comfortable and clean, though nothing extraordinary. They are basic rooms one would expect from a 5 star property; completely no-fuss and nothing worth writing home about. The room I was given had a bed that would creek anytime I would so much as turn a side, the water in the tub would take a minimum of 10 minutes to start working, followed by a loud whizzing noise that only grew louder by the minute. While I was down at the pool, someone came into my room (I didn’t leave a clean-my-room tag) and made the bed, while leaving a few towels on the floor, and not clearing the dishes either.
The food at Taj Surajkund is definitely a plus! Of all the dishes I tried over lunch and dinner, each far exceeded my expectations. While I did feel a mild stomach flu later, I reckon that was bad ordering on my part. The quality, quantity and taste of the food was absolutely perfect. Unfortunately, the prices are far too step, even by regular 5 star standards. Service at the restaurants is relatively slow as well. The buffet spread for breakfast had limited options, but the food lived up to my expectations from the day before. It’s best to opt for a weekend plan that includes all meals, since there are no fast food joints to pick up food from, nor is it safe to venture out in the surrounding area. Selectively ordering each meal or even opting for the buffet as an add-on once you arrive, could inflict damage to your monthly budget.
I didn’t actually try a massage here, since they were completely booked till the next day, long after my estimated check out time. I got a chance to glance through their couples therapy room, and it was absolutely stunning! The entrance to the spa may not be jazzy, but the route leading to the treatment rooms has been inspired by the “baoli” close by, and gorgeous enough to take my breath away! With couples treatments starting as low as 3,300 per person (60 minutes), there’s no reason to miss it! Take an appointment well before your check-in date though. This one you shouldn’t miss!
While the hotel look beautiful on the outside, your stay may not be as smooth as you would expect from a 5 star experience. You’ll end up paying a whole lot of money on food if you don’t take a meal-inclusive plan. The rooms aren’t great, and it’s a surprising average experience- not one you would expect from a Taj resort.