This is my personal experience of business hotels in Chennai. I travel to India regularly over a period of 7 years or so. You know that you visit too often when colleagues start to ask you whether you have started working there. Anyway – aside from the not-so-great economy flight from KUL-CHN-KUL, and sometimes super hot weather (so make sure you pick the right month to visit!) everything else is super. The hotels are great, food is excellent, cool places to visit and if you are into saree shopping, you cannot beat the options in Chennai.
Let me start by saying – all the staff on this list of hotels are exceptional. Helpful, courteous, friendly, attentive to your needs.
ITC Grand Chola
I usually stay at ITC – so I have more to comment. Since I almost always stay here – it’s quite obvious I think it’s a great hotel.
The last executive room I stayed in looked like it has been refurbished. But in my previous visit – I got a bit of a dated room. Not sure if there was some renovation work done in between or I just got lucky.
Anyway, I can say from all of my stays – refurbished or not, the hotel beds are so comfortable you want to sink right in; housekeeping is excellent – very attentive to details (I always leave the room in a hurry and sometimes in a mess, so I know what I am talking about).
There is a tablet provided in every room that controls everything from the lighting in your room, the camera at the door, the TV of course and you can even use it to browse the room service menu and place your order. One thing that I don’t like (but it is not a big deal) is the many mirrors in the bathroom – it just reminds you that you need to lose weight!
There is also a Ladies Floor – where they offer the “Eva” Executive rooms. I’ve stayed there a couple of times. The hotel provides extra security on the floor (a lady security guard – don’t think men are allowed here).
I did get to stay at the Towers room once which had an exclusive entrance. That was a super luxurious room – bigger than some of the apartment studios I have been to.
Halal Meat! Yay – they have it here! But do check with the staff before you order to be sure that nothing has changed.
There are many options restaurant wise. Of course, you can find great Indian food here. But you have options like Japanese, Chinese, Italian etc. My favourite dish is the lamb/seafood biryani from Madras Pavilion – I can eat this like every day of the week which is why I always feel bloated when I check out from the hotel. Peshwari is also another favourite (especially when we do team get-togethers) – their grilled meats/seafood are good but a bit pricey. There is another thing that I will always remember Peshwari for – Masala Coke!. Nope – not for me ever again but if you are willing to try…..
I have to say I have tried all the restaurants at the hotel. Another memorable one other than what I have mentioned is their Italian restaurant – Ottimo Cucina Italiana.
One thing that they could improve on is breakfast buffet selection. I come here almost every year, and I have to say the spread is always the same.
Tip: I sometimes get the hotel to pack me sandwiches for lunch in the morning – Cafe Mercara Express prepares delicious sandwiches to go.
Kaya Kalp Spa– Highly recommended. Good massage – perfect after a day of hard work! Check out the spa menu from your in-room tablet. I managed to go only one time (because of my super packed schedule as always). I had the Kaya Kalp massage – and I must say the 60 mins was way too short!
ITC is near to the airport, which is great as Chennai traffic can be challenging and you also want ample time to get to the airport and pass through security. Whenever I take a midnight flight, I used to ask the hotel to extend me for a half-day stay on my last day – which allows me to go to the office and then come back for a quick shower and dinner before going to the airport. Not sure if they accommodate this kind of request still.
I usually stay at ITC, but I have stayed at a few other hotels – another favourite is Taj Coromandel. I stayed at the hotel maybe 2 or 3 times.
Rooms & Hotel Grounds
The hotel reception is nice and bright — a welcoming scene when you enter the hotel, especially if you arrive on a late evening flight. I appreciated the welcome drinks – I don’t remember getting that from the other hotels.
The standard room is quite basic but very comfortable and clean. I thought it was better than the Taj Connemara (although I believe Connemara just completed a massive renovation in 2018) – so probably that statement doesn’t hold anymore. But then again, Taj Coromandel also had some renovation work done in 2018.
The food in this hotel is excellent!
The Southern Spice restaurant serves delicious South Indian food. I had my first taste of rasam here – it’s a South Indian spicy soup with black pepper and tomato extract. They say that it is good to end your meal with rasam, as it helps soothe the stomach. Not sure whether that’s true, but it was good. You should try the Chaya tea (traditional South Indian village tea) – it’s quite similar to the “Teh Tarik” we have back home in Malaysia. Malaysians always like a good Teh Tarik with our Indian dishes! I have to mention the restaurant decor is unique and beautiful and the dining wares are gorgeous too.
I have used the hotel car to go shopping before. The price was reasonable, and the car was safe and comfortable. The driver was courteous and safe.
Taj Connemara rooms were a bit dated when I stayed there. But they had a massive renovation completed in 2018 – so won’t be posting any of the old pictures here, as it won’t be useful. I remembered that I didn’t like the pre-renovated version that much. I stayed here because of the location. I have seen recent reviews saying the hotel interiors is now top notch.
One thing that I feel is worth mentioning is that the hotel is next to Spencer Plaza, the oldest shopping mall in India. There are newer malls in Chennai of course, but if you want to buy local goods like sarees or souvenir shirts etc. and don’t want to take public transport, you can easily walk over to the mall from the hotel grounds.
<== This is one of my many, many sarees.
This hotel is not in Chennai City centre – you have to drive a fair bit out of the city. But, it is close to the Mahabalipuram monuments/temples. So if you make plans to visit the historical town, you can easily slot in a lunch or dinner outing at the Taj – which is what we did.
I never stayed here so cannot comment on the accommodation so much. But I had a chance to have dinner at the Bay View restaurant at the beach – excellent, delicious and fresh seafood!. I don’t recommend doing lunch here especially in summer around Mar-May months, as the afternoons can be a bit too hot. When I came here in Dec the last round, I thought it was still too hot. It would be great if they can put cooling fans out at the restaurant so that people can have drinks at least out at the beach and won’t be too bothered with the heat. Dinner is served under thatched-roofed gazebos – very memorable!
I had lunch at the Seagull restaurant last I went there. Again, the food was excellent, the staff was courteous, but the service was slow. So to enjoy a good lunch, make sure you are not in a rush to be somewhere else. What I can say for sure is that, the lunch was definitely one of the most delicious, I have had, when visiting Chennai.
Ok – think it’s clear – I love the food here.
Food + Unique experience - Rooftop bar
I did not stay in Hilton but have had dinner here several times. I recommend the Q Bar, located at the rooftop. Nice place to unwind (with mocktails in my case) just before nightfall with a view of the city.
For big meals, I would recommend the buffet at Vasco’s. Good selection of fusion food. There is something for everyone. From vegetarian, Indian, Italian and Japanese, and so on. I have been here twice at least. Great spread. For whatever reason, I didn’t take pictures. I think I was too busy eating. The price is quite reasonable too.
Hotel Grounds & Food
I didn’t realise how fortunate I was all these years, to get to experience so many different hotels in Chennai, until I started writing about them in my blog. I’ve been to a few others but the above are my favourite.
Anyway – to sum it up – Chennai has got a good selection of business hotels. The service is great – the staff always make you feel welcomed. And that’s true across the board. The food options at the hotels are good and safe. Hope this gives you an idea of what sort of hotels to look for if you’re heading there!