My Independence Day Weekend 2016@ Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh-The City of Nawabs
Lucknow happened to be in my bucket List for quite some tim. And so when August 15 fell on a long weekend, I took the plunge and booked myself along with my folks for the city of the Nawabs. Read on for my detailed experience.
Connectivity to Lucknow from Bengaluru is limited with only a few direct flights in the Economy category. I personally have no issues with Indigo and took their last flight out which was on time and landed at Chaudhary Charan Singh Airport at 2130 hours as scheduled.
Lucknow is yet to experience the convenience of Uber, so Ola was the only option. Given its wonderful repertoire and my personal experience, I decided to make an upfront offer to the waiting Taxi Drivers with a set fee to my abode-Lebua at Mall Avenue. They promptly agreed and I was on a cab to my destination in no time. The humidity was intensive and you require air-conditioning at all time in there.
Lebua is a boutique hotel located in one of the most serene locales the city has to offer. Tucked away in a private VIP lane, this bears the resemblance of heritage properties that Lucknow is famous for. I had booked a room in the Luxury category, a notch below the Suit where I was led to upon arrival.
The room was decent and resembled a Haveli in its true sense with decorated chandelier and ultra-dramatic beds endorsing a top-open curtain along its sides. The closet space could have been more and the bathroom was spacious enough to accommodate multiple presence inside at a time. The shower area was also well equipped with toiletries. I was satisfied for the price quoted.
We went on a city tour the following day and ended up visiting the historic Bada Imambara with the world famous labyrinth-Bhul Bhulaiya built in it. After the harrowing experience of dealing with the group-tours that the guides are so notorious for, I was exhausted but managed to click some memorable shots from the two levels of the Imambara overlooking the mosque and adjoining attractions like the Chhota Imambara.
We proceeded for lunch to the Taj, Gomatinagar located not so far away and the universal appeal of its deco art style impressed me. We receded to Lebua with the intention to head out in the evening to check the parks of Lucknow out.
Much to our dismay, it started to rain and we were stuck indoors. We decided to dine at Azrak, the Awadhi restaurant at the Lobby Level. The food was heavy, but cooked to perfection and we were happy. Guess, they have saved the best for the last for me.
Monday was Independence Day and the rain showed no signs to recede. We headed out to Clark’s Awadh Hotel located at Hajaratganj for luncheon, but had to leave as the menu was limited and the venue a bit downmarket for my palette. We went back to the Taj and contained ourselves with the Lunch Buffet and returned to the hotel as the checkout was at 1700 hours.
The biggest shock of my entire life and this trip came when the receipt for the entire stay was presented upon checkout and was simply double the quote furnished by the hotel receptionist Priya and Divyadit over phone and in every communication henceforth. I have provided them with my requirements in advance and asked them for a combined quote for both the nights inclusive. The quote they provided was actually a daily quote and “I am supposed to understand that” even without them mentioning the 2 golden words- “Per Night”. What ensued was one of the longest and the most tiresome arguments of my lifetime, where their staff including the Manager, Front Desk and Reservations got involved and tried getting nasty and low with me. Threats like “I will lock the gates and see how you leave” followed and was pretty unexpected from a venue that looked the way it did. Lebua is a good brand, but their marketing strategy atrocious and despicable. The lady who was solely responsible for this joined the argument without a single word of apology and that delayed the resolution. Good sense prevailed upon them after a good 120 minutes and I was asked to pay 12.5% more than the rate promised and settle the bill, to which I agreed. We set off for the Airport with a bitter experience overshadowing the good times we spent here. However, we stopped at an outlet of the famous Tunday Kebab and packed some dinner to compensate for the lack of time.
Next time, you are travelling to Lucknow, note the following points:
Always double-check and triple-check any rates furnished by the service providers like Hotels, Cabs, etc. before placing an order-chances are they will try and rip you off at the slightest opportunity.
Always try and get an email from the concerned authorities for documentation to avoid any inconvenience like I was faced with.
Being a luxury traveller and having stayed with the best of hospitalities till date, this was indeed an eye opener and will always be a permanent mark every time I travel to a new destination going forward. God help Lucknow and establishments like Lebua.