If you are surprised what this French brand is doing in Coimbatore, don’t be. The city is on its way to become an IT hub in South India and truly deserves five-star luxury. It’s also in close proximity to Chennai (about 8 hours), Bangalore (about 6 hours), Kodaikkanal (about 4 hours) and Ooty (about 2 hours) and with Le Meridien opening here it’ll soon become a favourite weekend destination. The hotel has hosted numerous corporate events within a year since it started operating in phases.
The hotel is around 3.5 kms away from the airport and it took us about less than 10 mins to reach there. A modest entrance decorated by a pond led us to the concierge where smiling staff welcomed us with eye-opener shots that left our insides burning – a spicy mango and peach drink.
Lobby – The hotel lobby has a grand décor and works as an interaction point for the guests. A 28 mtrs long chandelier hangs in the centre from the eighth floor. It is handmade by the University of Milan and is the biggest in Asia. If you look closely, you will see a white line going through the lobby floor. This is the latitude. Interestingly, Coimbatore is on the same latitude as Washington, the head office of the Starwood group.
Rooms – We were settled in a beautiful room which had chic and modern furniture. It was equipped with spacious wardrobes with a locker, a study table, couch, an LCD and a comfortable bed. The luxury bathroom had a bathtub, shower cubicle and was separated from the room by just a glass wall.
There are suites for families as well as single female travelers. But the highlight is the Tamil Nadu Suite. It has carvings on the door like the ones you see in South Indian temples. Interiors and furniture are done up with carved mango wood. There is a jhoola in the living area, a dining space, a small room for meetings, a royal bedroom, a walk-in closet and a spacious bathroom.
Restaurants – The hotel houses an all-day diner called ‘Latest Recipe’, a Pan-Asian restaurant called ‘Ponzu’, an Indian restaurant called ‘Peacock’, a pool-side Italian restaurant called ‘Favola’ and a cafe ‘Illy’. While Ponzu and Favola have not yet opened, the other two were up and running. ‘Latest Recipe’ had a huge breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet with live kitchen and a wider dessert counter. A cast-iron gazebo stands in the centre of the restaurant and looks beautiful when lit up. A mix of Indian, Japanese, Italian and Chinese cuisines was interesting but the food was average. Desserts were something that caught our interest.
‘Peacock’, which serves Indian food has a traditional décor with brass goblets and old-style furniture. A peacock made of marble greets you at the entrance. The restaurant has a corner dedicated for live musicians. ‘Ponzu’ was opened for the party and served some great Mongolian and Teppenyaki food.
Bar/pub – ‘Latitude 11’ is cozy bar with a lounge feel. Adjacent to it is a Cigar Lounge which stocks cigars from all over the world, especially Cuba.
The room service was good but not flawless. The call for water and iron board went unnoticed. But given the launch party stress, we believe that it was just a one-off case.
Le Meridien has also focused on art created by the artists who are part of their Unlock Art Program. Under this program Le Meridien has collaborated with artists from all over the world to create artwork for their hotels. The entrance has beautiful carvings depicting the culture of Tamil Nadu. Even the key cards are painted by these artists. The one I got had a painting by Hisham Bharoocha. In Coimbatore, Le Meridien has partnered with the Contemplate Art Gallery to create paintings and art installations in the hotel premises.