April 16-21 & May3-6, 2008: Delhi:
The Connaught Hotel (Rating: Appalling)
When we booked two extra days prior to the start of the tour, it was with the intention of getting over some jet lag after a long travel. The floors above the fourth floor were under construction which meant that from 7am to 7pm, there was constant hammering – not conducive to rest at all for 5 full days. The facility at $250 per night was incredibly overpriced – small rooms with dirty carpets and tattered furniture. Breakfast offered a very good variety of dishes to choose from. In spite of the posted sign that the staffs are not expected to solicit tips, one could hardly get a cup of coffee at breakfast without some indication that there was a tip forthcoming. The hotel should inform companies like TCI when there are issues that may interfere with the guests’ stay and that way, TCI can make alternate arrangements for accommodations. Our return stay after the tour was no better than the initial stay. We were placed in a room with incessant hammering and at that point we requested a new room. We were then given two rooms on the 7th floor which had an overpowering smell of insecticide. The manager went and sprayed some air freshener and said it was okay. At that point we took our luggage to the lobby and said that we were not going to accept inexcusable accommodations given the money we were paying. The manager informed us that TCI was the beneficiary of most of the $4,000 we paid in accommodations and had we made a booking directly with the hotel, we would have been given a better rate. He then produced a flyer with the hotel rates which were actually the same as we paid to TCI. When we said that we would inform TCI about the atrocious treatment, we were given “remodelled” rooms on the 3rd floor. I think that remodelling consisted of new drapes in very shabby rooms. When we asked for some form of compensation for our major inconvenience, we were offered one night’s dinner, a late checkout and a few candies on our last day. This hotel’s rating as a 4 star hotel is sadly out of date. I would give this a 1 star rating and that would be being generous. Given my discussion with a TCI representative about the lack of available accommodations in Delhi, I would suggest that TCI explain that to their clients that although the hotels are rated as 4 stars, some accommodations are not in fact meeting those rating standards.
The guide Alok Tiwari (Rating: Disappointing)
The guide was somewhat informative but he seemed preoccupied with his cell phone much more so than with providing some the history of Old and New Delhi. What little we got was probably less than we might read in a simple tour book of India. Driving around the Parliament building was just that – a drive. Given the rich and textured history of India and its government, I learned nothing that I did not already know, which is little. More time explaining and less time on the cell phone would have made this a more meaningful experience. .