A guestroom at Radisson Blu Jaipur // © 2016 Radisson
Feature image (above): Blu Most properties feature a buffet offering Western and Indian choices. // © 2016 Radisson Blu
Perhaps “the Gateway to God” is a lofty thing for a Radisson Blu to call itself on a roadside billboard. While the international brand does enjoy a somewhat awesome reputation for its value, no one has ever proven that a room can provide celestial access.
But when in India, Radisson Blu properties seem to blend in no matter where in the country they’re located. I found this out while driving past signs en route to Haridwar, a holy Hindi pilgrimage site whose name roughly translates from Sanskrit to “Gateway to Lord Shiva.”
Radisson Blu Hotel Haridwar satisfies pilgrims and global travelers alike with its location about 30 minutes from the banks of the holy Ganges River. Though near Haridwar’s sacred sites, the hotel is strategically situated just outside of town, which enables it to serve meat and alcohol — otherwise prohibited in Haridwar proper.
And it’s no wonder Radisson Blu has such a clever understanding of India. Out of all of Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group’s brands, it has the most extensive and fast-growing India portfolio. In August, Radisson Blu announced its 29th India property in Karjat, and the brand expects to launch hotels in Faridabad, Coimbatore, Bengaluru and Pune before the end of the year (with seven more hotels in the pipeline). While guests can expect a little local flavor at each property, there are some brand standards that can be found countrywide — a perk for clients traveling throughout India but seeking familiarity from their accommodations.
For one, each guestroom features an efficient workspace, a comfortable bed, a flat-screen television, a glass-enclosed shower and bath and even free and surprisingly decent Wi-Fi access for multiple devices.
Properties also feature amenities for recharging, such as pools and gyms. At the 178-guestroom Radisson Blu Jaipur, a small gym squeezes in two flat-screen televisions for watching Bollywood music videos while on the treadmill, bicycle or elliptical machines. And while the Jaipur property’s rooftop pool area doesn’t scream India — there is a pop-art portrait of Britney Spears on one of the walls, for instance — it’s the best spot in the hotel for taking in the sunset with views of the city in the distance.
Restaurants are also a strong suit of the Radisson Blu brand. In Hardiwar, the executive chef sat down with me for breakfast to share his passion for food and how he adds his own creative touches to classic dishes. In Jaipur, the servers were very attentive and recognized me as well as my food preferences after one seating. One of my servers, Krishna, steered me away from the chocolate mousse in favor of kheer tag, a milky rice pudding. The next day, he suggested upgrading my order of naan bread for missi rotti, a mixed-flour flatbread full of spices such as fenugreek, coriander and cumin, which I enjoyed while listening to live local music.
With such dependable standards at prices that hover between $60 and $100 per night, Westerners seeking value, familiar comforts and smart locations will find that Radisson Blu can be something of an otherworldy retreat during a pilgrimage through India.