Leisure

Le Meridien Coimbatore review

Artwork on arrival   | Photo Credit: Company Pic

I spent the fifteen minute ride from Coimbatore airport to the new Le Méridien fidgeting in anticipation of what I would find. Having spent almost two months at their Bangalore property many years ago, I was curious to see what had changed since Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. acquired the brand in 2005. Le Méridien in Bangalore was my home for a while, but would this newcomer foster the same feeling of belonging?

As it turned out, the staff at the hotel too is preoccupied with the same thing. They greet you in a friendly way while you notice all the artwork that surrounds you and offer you one of their signature Eye-Openers, a shot glass filled with a concoction of mango juice and chilli or raspberry and pineapple juice with a hint of clove. After the instant buzz, you are given your room key, a card specially designed by the brand's art associates, which you can keep as a souvenir. With so much to absorb within the first five minutes, I was given no time to feel lost or alone.

Arty issues

Le Méridien was founded by Air France in 1972. After having changed hands a few times, it was bought up by Starwood Hotels & Resorts with the aim of reworking the brand and creating a whole new concept of hotel luxury. The Coimbatore property is the 100th Le Méridien worldwide and the first luxury hotel in the South Indian city, all set to change the city's landscape. While the outer façade of the hotel is not particularly impressive, it is an altogether different story inside. The lobby walls are decorated in bright murals depicting scenes from the Tamil Nadu countryside, as each Le Méridien tries to incorporate the local flavour in its design. The Hub, which is the interactive area in the lobby is inviting with its interesting bookcase, playful silver elephant figures, brightly coloured S-shaped couch and coffee bar. The Hub had been designed to appeal to the curious and artistic client, who makes the most of the coffeehouse style atmosphere. But the cynosure of the lobby and indeed the hotel is the beautiful chandelier that drops down from the eighth floor, made in Italy and touted to be the longest chandelier in Asia. The light sparkles and bounces off this piece of art and is itself a conversation starter. The capiz shell chandeliers, bright carpets and the Soundscape music system in the elevators appeal to all your senses. They even have a particular woody scent designed for the hotel which is sprayed in the lobby!

The focus here is on art and its influence on people. Each design element has been chosen keeping in mind the need to inspire the guest. This explains the art gallery present on the ground floor, part of Le Méridien's Unlock Art initiative.

The rooms

The hotel is situated in a largely agricultural area, so the rooms overlook cultivated land and coconut groves and in the early morning, the greenery reveals its beautiful inhabitants. Peacocks saunter out into the sunshine and ruffle their feathers, but sadly not one put on a display while I gaped from my window. I was informed by a housekeeping associate that these majestic birds are found in plenty in Coimbatore and frequent the hotel premises. Once you tear your city-bred eyes away from these creatures, you will notice the funky design of the room. Dark wood everywhere, a large white bed and a comfy leather chair and ottoman are contrasted with bright red stripes on the carpet and a pop red leather writing chair. Le Méridien offers guests a choice of 254 rooms and suites, including Royal Club Rooms, Deluxe suites and the beautifully designed Tamil Nadu Suite. Some of the rooms have quotes from the Thirukural on the walls to continue the connection with the local culture. The Tamil Nadu Suite is opulent and inspired by Chettinadu houses of old. Intricately carved wood covers the cabinets and door frames while a wooden swing with gold-tinted handles drops gently from the ceiling in the living area.

Foodie's paradise

There is food everywhere you look in this hotel. You can start with the complimentary mango chilli kalakand placed in your room (enclosed in a paper cover on which the recipe is printed) and move on to snacks and coffee at the Illy Café in the lobby. For heartier meals, try Peacock which serves authentic Indian cuisine. The restaurant is decked out in gold-hued fabrics and cutlery with a private room furnished in the colours of the peacock. The Dal Bhukara was delicious as was the Paneer Pukhtan kebab. But the dish that outshined them all was the Murgh Awadhi Biryani, which was full of flavour and delicately fragrant rice.

Drinks at the Latitude Bar are the usual, with Cosmos and Mojitos flowing freely. For Italian cuisine, guests can stroll into Favola by the poolside. Rustic décor gives the feel of an Italian home and the menu features classic Italian fare, with the now-popular wood fire oven for authentic pizzas. Ponzu, the Asian restaurant offers cuisines from Mongolia, Japan, China and many more Far Eastern countries. Try their signature sizzling Phuket baked fish or seafood Taro Pot. Asian chandeliers, German wood flooring and bamboo glasses complete the trip to the East. For a truly private experience, book the table on the connecting bridge between the two restaurants. If your stomach is still not satisfied, you can always grab a snack at Latest Recipe, the all-day dining restaurant. The live counters and resplendent gazebo with onyx pillars grab your attention as you walk in. A trip to the plush and private cigar bar will be the perfect end to your busy evening.

With so much to see, eat and experience, Le Méridien Coimbatore seems insistent on getting the guest to open up their senses. Add to it great weather and soft-spoken people and it could be a winning formula.

What: The new Le Méridien hotel

Where: Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu

How much: Rs 10,000 onwards per room per night

archana.a@thehindu.co.in

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Printable version | Oct 21, 2021 5:16:29 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/leisure/Le-Meridien-Coimbatore-review/article13426350.ece

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