We stayed here on one of our transits through Delhi for a couple of days because they advertise a heated outdoor pool. The hotel is conveniently located opposite a Metro station and the distance into the centre of Delhi is reasonable. However, on check-in we were told that the pool was "under maintenance" and that we could not use it during our stay. We should have asked for a refund (we had pre-paid) but as everything can be such a hassle in Delhi, we decided to make the best of it and stay. The hotel room was pleasant enough, in good condition and the staff were polite, particularly on the ninth floor. Buffet breakfast was satisfactory and staff were attentive. In-room dining was expensive but an easy option at the end of a busy day and the food was reasonable. They have a happy hour and luckily the lights are very dim in this section of the hotel as it is totally ragged looking and in desperate need of new furniture. We booked a driver to Agra (trains were at an inconvenient time and unreliable because of fog and we were silly enough not to remember that the AC buses are very comfortable and almost faster than a driver). The cost of being driven to Agra was over the top - way way more than we had been verbally quoted the night before. So we ended up getting stuck with it - it cost double to drive to Agra than what I had paid for a driver from Pondicherry to Ooty even though the former was an easy and much much shorter drive. When one has been in India for a while, weariness sets in and this is when you make mistakes as it all becomes too hard sometimes. The driver was very friendly and when we asked about a coffee stop, he suggested we stop half way to Agra. This seemed reasonable as we wanted to get to Agra without too much delay but this is where we lost control of our journey. He drove up a driveway which gave us no choice and we had to go into a place under construction called Shree Mangalam Resort. Our driver left us at the entrance and told us he would be back in ten minutes. We had bad vibes from the start. Outside this "hotel" there was a man with a rifle (definitely a civilian - hotel guard?) and a motley crew of people. We walked through a big souvenir shop but thankfully we weren't hassled. This led to a dark dining area with plastic table cloths and a really bizzare smell. (The whole thing reminded me of a Roald Dahl story of a woman who ran a guest houses and "waited" for her guests to whom she then gave almond smelling tea and then proceeded with taxidermy). When we were given the menu (it was about 3.30pm) we were being bullied into ordering one of their chicken dishes so we told them we were vegetarian and only wanted coffee. Actually, we really didn't want anything from this horrible place so we asked for espresso which of course they didn't have. At this point we should have politely thanked them and left but we were too embarassed with all these men hovering around us so we ordered two cans of sickly sweet mango juice from the fridge standing near us. RRP was 30 rupees but they were charging 90 rupees. A bit annoying but we had them anyway. I made a joke about them probably adding luxury tax and service tax to the bill. My husband told me to get the right money ready but the best I could do was two 100 rupee notes. Sure enough, as soon as we had our two cans, we went to the counter to pay and the man at the desk, surrounding by five or six of his men started to write an invoice - he wanted 257 rupees. My husband got angry, gave him the two hundred rupees and told him to go to hell. We walked out and walked down to the end of the driveway to wait for our driver. I was dying to go to the toilet but had to hold on as I was not going to go back into that place. Closer to the hotel we saw another tourist who must have also been in our situation waiting outside and not looking too happy. It didn't matter that this place had no guests staying there as they probably made plenty of money by having drivers drop off unsuspecting victims all the time.(And imagine the poor victims who look this place up, when construction is completed, on the internet and think they are going to stay in a five star resort near Agra - it would be a real Wake in Fright situation). After about five minutes our driver came out, got into the car and picked us up down the driveway. He asked if all was fine and we just politely thanked him. We could feel he was furious as he was very quiet and started driving much faster than he had for the first part of the trip. He had obviiously counted on some commission in this place and had missed out - not really satisfactory for the very very expensive drive. We just carried on as normally and eventually he thawed down as we got into Agra. Had we not taken the driver, the cost of the stay would still have been a bit high compared to similar hotels of the same quality but I would not have been left with such a bitter taste in my mouth. However, if you are more careful than we were, you can have a good stay here. Most of the staff is very helpful and friendly and the woes of the building do not reflect on their professionalism. If the heated pool was operational, it would actually be a very pleasant stay with helpful staff.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
17 February 2012
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