Lake & Luxury - The Carlton, Kodaikanal
Kodai lake is unanimously considered the heart of Kodaikanal, India. Not only is it at the center of this beautiful hill station, it is the most happening place in the town. The whole hill station is built around this beautiful lake and so it is quite obvious that most hotels are built as close to the lake as possible. But if you had to choose one hotel which would provide the best views of the lake, which would it be? What if we told you that there was an option to stay right on the edge of the lake in the most luxurious way possible, would you want to know more? And what if we added that this hotel is the only 5 star hotel in Kodaikanal with its own private boating facilities in the Kodai lake? Now we have your attention! So keep reading as we review our experience of indulging into the grandeur and splendour of The Carlton, Kodaikanal.
Imagine staying in an ancient colonial era mansion right on the banks of a pristine lake! This is what we felt during our brief stay at The Carlton. It is a 110 year old property located right besides Kodai lake surrounded by virgin hills. It is biggest and the only 5-star hotel in Kodaikanal. In search of a good accomodation near the Kodai lake, we came across The Carlton as the only hotel to suit our tastes and offer an unobstructed lake view. The Kodai lake as such is encircled by a road so none of the properties touch the lake. The Carlton is located right on the edge of this road i.e. just 4-5 steps across the lake!
We drove through the scenic path besides the lake that led us to The Carlton. We parked our vehicle in the huge parking bay and were helped by the bell-man with our luggage. We were warmly welcomed at the reception. The check-in was quick and smooth. The receptionist handed us the spa service and hotel amenities brochure. We were soon escorted to our room and helped with our luggage.
On arriving at our room in Carlton, we were delighted to find it was extremely spacious having lots of natural light. The décor was modern yet had traditional touches from the area, which we really appreciated. It wasn’t cluttered and was tastefully decorated. The bed was king size with comfortable pillows and warm blankets. There is a separate seating area with the ancient furniture. Other amenities included an electronic safe, iron and iron board, room heater, tea/ coffee maker, refrigerator and bathrobes. The wardrobe offered considerable storage and there were sufficient power sockets to charge our multiple batteries. We loved the cookies, chocolates and fruit cake boxes provided complimentary in the room.
The room of Carlton opened up to a private balcony which was huge; almost the size of a small room. The balcony offered a marvelous panoramic view of the Kodai Lake. We could look out straight into the woods surrounding the lake as the brisk air brushed against our arms. The freshness coerced us to take a deep breath and just stand there. The bathroom was fairly sized with a full mirror door. It had a bath tub with attached shower area partitioned from the rest of the space by a curtain. The large bath towels were plush and soft. Along with basic toiletries, a hair dryer and a telephone in the bathroom was thoughtful.
Mr. Manu, the front office manager of Cartlon was a very kind and generous person who patiently helped us with all that we required. He even arranged for a staff person to show us around the huge property; who happily took us to each and every corner of the hotel explaining all the facilities and recreational activities that they offered. The hotel has an in-house all purpose shop, a meeting room, a business room, a 24 hour coffee shop, a multi cuisine restaurant, a bar and a terrace restaurant in its building. The club-house of Carlton was a separate building that included a spa and massage center, a beauty parlor, a state-of-art gymnasium and a health center with steam and Jacuzzi. Apart from this, the hotel staffs conduct some program in the evening to entertain the guests. This took place in the cafe area. The programme included games such as housie and a puppet show along with the bonfire in the center which provided relief from the cold climate outside. The entire design, decor and ambience spelled grand and exquisite.
We loved the fact that the 5-floor building of the Carlton was designed in such a way that each room get a flawless view of the Kodai lake. The middle level of the hotel which is where you enter has reception and restaurants also have terrace gardens overlooking the vast expanse of the Lake. The whole setting is surrounded by hills on all sides which adds to the beauty. There are a total of 91 guest rooms out of which 84 are deluxe rooms, 4 are suites and the rest 3 are cottages. The 3 cottages were little more private in a villa type setup with separate gardens. We also learnt from the general manager, Mr. Raman, that The Carlton was once a guest house for parents who visited their kids in the adjacent Kodaikanal International School. The Chairman of Raheja hospitality group, it seems, bought or rather gifted the property to his wife in 1983 and it was later converted into the hotel which started being operational in 1986. It felt good to know the history and the love behind the hotel. We can imagine Kodaikanal has the power to do that.
The club house of Cartlon comprised of an outdoor as well as indoor children play area. The indoor game room for adults included carrom, chess, ludo, snakes and ladders, pool table, foosball, table tennis, and air hockey. All the games were well spaced apart and had lots of seating area for people to just watch and relax. The first floor of the club house adorned a gigantic library with cozy sofas and lots of books and novels – again both for children and adults. Vast rangoli was prepared by the staff to celebrate Onam festival on that very day. The rangolis were made of flowers at the club-house as well as the reception of the hotel and were decorated with oil lamps on the sides. They were beautiful with varying colors.
The outdoor activities at Carlton include badminton and complimentary cycling for 1 hour – both children and adult cycles were available. The security person at the back gate helped with the cycles and gave us necessary directions. Cycling around the Kodai lake early in the morning was a great experience and gave us abundant joy. A complimentary boat ride for half an hour was included with the stay. The Carlton has a separate boat docking area and hence we did not have to wait for our chance even during the rush hours. The hotel has 10 pedal boats, 2 shikaras and a few rowing boats. We chose to experience boating in the evening in a pedal boat that offered privacy. The Carlton is visible while boating from any corner of the Lake and the balconies on each floor looked like plenty of white boxes were stacked in an ornamental manner.
The gardens in The Carlton are massive and full of greenery. Tall pine and eucalyptus trees spaced in a few corners add charm to the natural beauty. The gardens have lovely sit-outs where one can spend time viewing the activities near the lake. The deep green bougainvilleas creep along entire exterior walls at few places; it looked like the wall is just made of climbers. Table and chairs with big umbrellas were laid out in the terrace garden on the middle level which served as outdoor dining option. The view of the building from the garden was that of a picture postcard. And they have some ducks too.
The Carlton's main restaurant - Silver Oak is a classy colonial styled fine dining multi cuisine restaurant. The buffet spread is more than adequate to quench your taste buds. Since it was Onam, there were variety of authentic Kerala food items we had never heard of despite visiting Kerala many times. We enjoyed trying out all the varieties though we can hardly recall their names. The service quality is high class and we have absolutely no complaints as far as the appetite is concerned. The adjoining open terrace restaurant offers barbeque but we couldn't have a taste of it since it was raining. They have a 24 hours cafe called The Hearth and a bar called End of the road. They also offer the facility of providing customized cakes and getting it delivered at 12 in the mid night. How awesome is that!!
As the night neared, The Carlton lighted up in romantic and soothing yellow. From the common lobbies and sit out areas to corridors and our rooms, the whole building was a wonderful warm yellow. We loved this aura and had to spend some time clicking this orchestrated music to eyes.
As expected The Carlton was memorable experience and the staff ensured our every need was fulfilled. The only possible area where we felt they could work on was the WiFi experience. Since we received proper 4G signals in our mobiles, slow WiFi didn't really affect us but it can be irritating for some especially those who come here for business retreat. However, we hope if you are in Kodaikanal, you do not really care about internet and let the likes of The Carlton pamper you with all the luxuries. The Carlton is as such a place for all kinds of people with all kinds of purposes. Be it children who love to play or old aged who want calmness and serenity or corporates who want to host a business meeting with a retreat or a honeymoon couple who just wants to spend romantic time with each other. The Carlton offers something for everyone. Here is a video we found on their Facebook page which perfectly summarizes what we experienced.
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Want to book The Carlton? You can find it in any of the travel portals seen in the blog above or directly book with them on their official website here. Have you been to Kodaikanal or are planning to? Would you enjoy living in a place like The Carlton? How did you find our review? Do let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.
Note: All opinions expressed in this blog are our own and not influenced by The Carlton in any manner.