It’s rare to find a perfect getaway within Kolkata. Raajkutir Kolkata by Neotia Hosiptality in the new revamped Swabhumi could be just that for Kolkata. It is a theme based boutique hotel, taking you back in time during the Bengal renaissance. Meticulously designed with attention to details, handpicked periodic furniture and artefacts, Calcutta Nostalgia food in East India Room, Swig the Bar and immaculate service – it is a fantastic solution for a weekend.
It was sometime back that I had travelled to Narendra Bhawan Bikaner and was moved by the idea of how a heritage property within a residential area could be converted into an experiential stay with innumerable memories to carry back. Raajkutir Kolkata ticks all the boxes and some more too.
Address of Raajkutir Kolkata –
This 33 room boutique hotel is situated in erstwhile Swabhumi and the main entrance is besideUNO Chicago Bar and Grill. The official address is EM Bypass, 89 C, Moulana Abul Kalam Azad Sarani , Kolkata – 54 , Phone – 033 40844848
The History of Raajkutir Kolkata
Raja Kaliprasanna Singha had saved his zamindari in Hogladanga from British during the land reforms. A zamindar, known for his generosity, he had also distributed his wealth during the 1770 Bengal famine amongst the poors of the state. During those turbulent times, every now and then, he would offer a string resistance to British and Hogladanga remained as one of the last frontiers for them. Once he passed away, his elder son Nrisinghopratap and his daughter in law Soudamini took over the zamindari.
The place had all the signs of a prosperous zamindari until one fateful night when it all changed. One of the sons of Rajababu, masterminds a bombing which fails. The British retaliate by surrounding the place and soon bullets pierced through the walls until there was darkness and silence. The entire place was left in ruins till the current owners resurrected it back to its former glory. A while back, I was fortunate enough to hear the story from Mr. Neotia himself. The passion with which he spoke about yet another one of his masterpieces was so evident from his eyes and is quite unforgettable.
Entrance, reception and check in to Raajkutir Kolkata
A lift at the entrance Photok leads to a small bridge to enter the reception area. The storyline suggests that it was just outside the reception where the horse drawn carriages used to be parked. There is an outhouse before the reception where there is a beautiful swimming pool supported by a very delicate iron filigree structure, a gym and some more amenities coming up. The check in happens in the room itself and it’s a smooth process. We were welcomed with a traditional boron, a sweet and water and a wet towel to feel refreshed. The main arena at the entrance has a large gate with two brazen with their wings spread aganst the open sky. Further into, an ornate palanquin and two white marble lions guarding the courtyard transport you to the bygone era. The sprawling courtyard with a fountain and a tulsi tola is a reminiscent of the dalan of a rather great raajbari, around which the rooms are located.
Rooms at Raajkutir Kolkata
There are 33 rooms and 26 of them are named after the characters in the story. Brace yourself for some interesting names like gaan didimoni, mamababu, gonsa ghor and even a jhimunti room. In addition, there are rooms named after different family members of the house. Jhimunti room is the one where apparently people fall asleep. In addition, there are 7 atithi rooms or the guests room. Translated into categories, there are 4 categories like Superior room (13 nos), Deluxe rooms (12), Premium rooms (7) and one presidential suite. We stayed at the Gaan Didimoni which is one of the Premium rooms, had musical instruments hanging on the wall, a tall and large bed with four posters, bed side tables with alarm radio and other amenities. Later when I took a tour, I realised how much of a hard work it must have been to conceptualise 33 rooms differently and that’s very rarely seen elsewhere.
The architecture of Raajkutir Kolkata and the artefacts.
When we spoke with Mr. Vivek Rathode, the architect who has resurrected this place which was erstwhile a shopping arcade, he shared his idea was to celebrate Bangla. It was an effort to revive and archive Bengali legacy. There can be many ways in which Bengali legacy could have been archived and architecture is one of them. Cast iron was identified as one of the fading elements of old Bengali architecture and that has been used to modify the old place.
A lot of interesting filigree work in cast iron is all around the property, some providing support and some are just for visual treat. Filigree work adds to the feminism of the place and the influence of Portugese and Biritish in Bengal.The filigree work is seen as room separators on the courtyard as well as an extension of the mainbuilding structure frame. He believes in ‘God lies in detail and Love for Details’. It’s evident in all the artefacts that are spread across the property. I couldn’t stop but write about the artefacts in a separate post which you can check here. One of the best examples of the Filigree work can be seen in the area adjacent to swimming pool and had it not been winters, I think all of us would have taken a dip.
The mornings and evenings at Raajkutir Kolkata
How do you spend your time when you are on a staycation? I have known some, who would not even step out of their room and switch on the TV and order room service and go off to sleep. Then there are some who would enjoy all the amenities, entertainment provided within the hotel and use them to the maximum. Most of the times, the resorts which are away from the city would not offer any other alternatives and one has to enjoy the best within the property. For Raajkutir Kolkata, situated within the city, guests may want to explore the city. For others, who would just like to relax and stay back, there are a few entertainment opportunities.
The mornings begin with the sweet sound of flute floating across the courtyard and into your room. You wake up and take a stroll through the beautiful marbled courtyard, with a cup of coffee in your hand and live through the soft music of flute by Sougata Naskar (a young artiste), while the sun rays slowly kiss your skin. It is simply mesmerising. If you are a morning person, then this is the best memory you will be carrying back with you. Breakfast is The East India Room and there are outdoor and indoor seating options. Breakfast is quite lavish- almost everything that you can wish from a breakfast buffet; but it comes from the pan to plate instead of being served in a buffet. The evenings at Raajkutir is another story altogether. It begins with Sandhya aaroti at the tulosi tola and then baul sangeet by a couple of performing baul artists. The courtyard is lit up with diyas and its a beautiful ambience created. There is also a bar overlooking the courtyard, in case one would like to go for a couple of drinks.
Sougata Naskar the flute player
A sneak peak into some of the rooms of Raajkutir Kolkata
The hits and misses in Raajkutir Kolkata
Before we start this segment, there are some disclaimers that are worth mentioning. First – we were invited for a stay experience at Raajkutir Kolkata by Mr. Subrata Debnath – the Business Head, Second – Hotel and restaurant operations is not a cookie-cutter model so there can be hits and misses on any day, as it’s human dependent.
- Food, food and food. It’ s lip-smacking delicious food, happy wide spread of breakfast and can be customized too. We had our baby daughter with us. So time and again, the small requests were attended to and handled carefully.
- Most often, the calm and peace that we look for when we go for a staycation is achieved here. Even though it is within the city, once you enter Raajkutir, you quite forget where you are. Not even for a second do you feel as if you are winin Kolkata.
- The artefacts, design, cutleries, furniture; all represent opulence at best and transforms the user to a different era.
- Inside the room, the height of the bed can be a wow factor for some and yet some may find it inconvenient. The muted pastel colours, fabrics and upholstery with arm rest chairs, large mirrors in the bathroom; all speak about elegance and class.
- The food in East India Room and the breakfast hits the right check boxes and unlike some of the places, the room service provides all the items in the menu.
- In room check in, no forms to be filled up other than a signature and warm hospitality makes you feel comfortable and special too.
Since it had newly opened, it would be foolish of us or anyone to expect a seamless operation. Here are some of the minor glitches which can definitely be overcome with time. So when I list this, this is with an intention that things are improved for better soon.
- There is a mosquito problem and it’s going to be worse in summers, especially in the evenings
- Only one mosquito repellent in the room, as large sized as the one we were staying is definietly not suffiecient, neither is the number of plug points.
- For any established restaurant / hotel operations, the co ordination between the kitchen and the service is always a vulnerable area and the first buck drops there.
- This place may be not friendly for elders or physically handicapped guests as there are mulitple levels