If ever there was a Guinness world record for the hotel that most frequently changes its name, then Fortune Manohar would romp home hands down - from Ramada Manohar to Tulip Manohar to Best Western Manohar to The Manohar and finally, Fortune Manohar now, it has been changing nameplates before the ink on the previous one dries.
It's rare for a typical Hyderabadi zipping across the Begumpet flyover to not notice the magnificent facade of the Manohar. For most, it's part of their monotonous, smoggy commute to work and back. The building is a Georgian styled edifice appearing to borrow inspiration from the White House, with cream hues and brown highlighting. The sprawling lobby has polished interiors and stylish seating, with the cream and mocha ensembles from outside carrying, and some slick illumination.
For as long as this was an airport hotel (there's a huge tragedy there, something to do with the airport shifting from its backyard to 40km away in 2008), it was only natural to find a full house - it remains to be seen how life goes on for Manohar after Shamshabad gets its full share of hospitality options.
Fine dining happens adjacent to the lobby, with Meringue, M-Bar, Best Of East
and Cafe Takeoff
. Meringue is a pastry bar serving delectable pastries and chocolate, while Best Of East is an oriental diner presenting cuisines from Indonesia, Malayasia, Japan, China and so on. M-bar slakes the thirst of the tired many with its exclusive cognacs, single malts and chateaux wines alongside the regular drafts, and finally there's Cafe Takeoff, the coffee shop, capturing the global dining spirit with its savory spread of cuisine from around the globe.
Manohar's various room sizes make it an option for both single travelers and families. Each room has its own distinctive decor blending subtly with space. Superior Rooms, which happen to be the most cost-effective ones, have oversized beds adorned by fluffy linen, flooring glossily done in marble, and cozy chairs and cocktail tables making in-room lounging space complete with an LCD TV and minibar. The bathrooms are roomy, slickly furnished beauties with a tub and a shower cubicle. The Club Rooms are roomier, with pretty much the same conveniences as the Superior Rooms except that the flooring is enchantingly parqueted in oak.
The suites are stylish dwelling spaces where modern, comfortable decor mixes Asian aesthetics (lovely fabrics, clean lines, beautiful presentation) with high-end ergonomics. The Hyderabadi suite is a Hyderabad-themed haven with two spacious rooms - one living room with hardwood floor, a study table, an opulently upholstered sofa, comfy chairs, and an LCD TV, and a bedroom comprising a regal bed matched by fine linen reminiscent of the Nizam, and flooring of oakwood parquetry. There's a gracefully done dining table, a cocktail table with cozy chairs, a cotton settee and a lounge chair upholstered in leather with a foot stool, and an LCD TV. The bathroom is a dreamy experience with a cotton sofa and a slick cocktail table, aside from an oversized marble bathtub and glass-walled rainfall shower cubicle.
The glass suite is flashy with a tad modern decor, and also has two rooms with pretty much the same amenities as the Hyderabad suite, except for a simpler oversized bed with the same sensuous linen. The floor is again hard oakwood, which appears to be ubiquitous these days with Indian hotels. The bathroom is aloof, spacious and easy with all the typical interiors and fittings.
The most cost-effective suite of them all and my fave, the Contemporary Suite, is a modern marvel with a freaky aisle, art-deco furniture and rich decor - well-upholstered banquettes, sexy sofas and settees, glossy and shapely tables, an oversized sleek bed with fluffy linen, an LCD TV, and part-carpeted part-parqueted flooring. While the bathroom is sinfully attractive with sleek fittings, a tub and a rain shower cubicle. And of course, the walls of the bath add to the ambience with brilliant murals.
All suites have a view of the airport. And guests in all rooms and suites are presented with complimentary bottled water everyday, and can avail themselves of the iron and iron board, as also the ensuite coffee and tea makers.
Getting back to the lobby level, there are two pools (one meant for kids) spreading out in a serene ambience. Both are naturalistic and are ringed by a glade of trees and rustic rough-hewn oak benches, creating a forest setting in a small garden, which is also home to a barbeque grill making summer all the more frolicsome.
Adjacent to the poolside is the fitness centre with a couple of treadmills, ellipticals, home gyms, bikes and, of course, the dumbbells.
Fortune Manohar has 5 meeting rooms, all with different capacities and conventional seating styles like U-Shaped, Theatre, Classroom and Casual Banquet. The Crystal Palace is the biggest, capable of housing around 1,000 people, and complete with a collapsible sound-proof partition to divide the hall into two. The others can accommodate around 20 to 60 people.
Manohar epitomizes 5-star elegance and hospitality at its hedonistic best. If there were to be a minus, it would be the so-not-cozy cotton sofas, many of them strewn here and there too inelegantly for a hotel its size and swank.
And, yes, I'm eagerly awaiting to see the next name change!