1 day at ITC Grand Chola

Why would somebody holiday in the same city? I mean, does that even make sense? I am not talking about holidaying about an hour's drive from the city, but about holidaying in a hotel, like 20 minutes from home! Anyway, we had to celebrate an occasion and we had decided to do something nice, but then I had to leave to MIT, Boston the very next day, so we decided to not entirely chuck our plans and holiday in the city. Essentially, a hotel stay.

If you are mad like us and decide to do something crazy like that, then options are not many. Or there are too many, depending on how you look at it. For us, there was only place to do something as crazy as that. The ITC Grand Chola. I mean, if you take one look at it, you will want to stay there. I didn't win a voucher, I didn't win a twitter contest, I didn't get invited. We just went to stay! And how often do you come across a hotel that is built to resemble a palace!?! Complete with a grand staircase!!

I walked to the check in, and immediately, we were VIPs. We were upgraded straight away. We were whisked away to an exclusive check in space for the upgraded rooms. We were given divans to wait on. And then shown our room. All of it, not by anyone, but an exclusive executive who showed us around as she took us to our room, which would be a suite in most hotels. If this wasn't a suite, wonder how the suite would have been here.

The essential part of a hotel stay is room service and that's the first thing we did when we got in. Room service. Usually we'd like to do sandwiches, but the sliders were interesting, so we ordered that. Lip smacking would be an understatement. Three superb mini burgers. A nice dip. Some potatoes. Heavenly.

Spa. Swim. Gym. Take your pick to while away time till dinner. My first choice was to hit Pan Asian, but I've been there so many times and chef Vikram wasn't there that day, so we thought of trying another place that I've been dying to try, Peshawari. But we were recommended to try out their sizzler festival at Cafe Mercara, so we took the recommendation. Only after we were seated did I realise that the menu was the same as the room service menu. So Peshawari is still on my to-do list now and I missed a great opportunity. Chef came in and explained the menu and I left it to him to choose our dinner after telling him our preferences.

We were served an excellent seared tuna, done rare with some molecular gastronomy type suff all around it. Excellent. And an outstanding French Onion Soup that was so full of flavour that we emptied it with the bread and cheese and we were almost full. The shepherd's pie wasn't outstanding and the caramel custard was nice, but we were stuffed with the salad and soup (and the sliders about 3 hours earlier) and we weren't paying attention to the average dishes.

Pampering didn't stop there. Since I had mentioned that we were celebrating a special occasion extra specially as I will be away for a month getting grilled at MIT, the special occasion got picked up and we were pampered like crazy. A fantastic box of macarons that we finished despite being full and a fantastic chocolate mousse cake that we had to doggy pack home the next day.

The only real disappointment was the breakfast. While it was not bad by any means, the standard of everything was so high that the breakfast paled in comparison. We were given a late check out and the pampering continued till we drove off.

That's why, if you're crazy enough to holiday in your Chennai hometown, there is only place for it!