Kluneys Mystique and My Mistake!
It is awesome to wake up to the sounds of Kalhatti Waterfalls and view it from your bedroom window. There is no better way to see the clouds within arms reach. What was perhaps once upon a time someone's home is now a hotel with 7 disgustingly maintained Vintage rooms and 4 pitch dark Heritage rooms.
I booked a Heritage through MakeMyTrip and got a good deal and I was hoping there was nothing to complaint about reading through all the reviews. The location is about 500 meters off-road exactly at the 15th hair pin bend on Gundlpet - Ooty road (one hair pin bend after Kalhatti falls junction), which none of the hotel addresses bothered to mention and is a dangerous point to get in / out of the hotel. There is no real feel of Ooty if that is what you are here for. This place is DEFINITELY NOT for those without own vehicle.
Their website mentions - "15 minutes from the Ooty main bus stand and Railway station, 10 minutes from the heart of the Town". This place is about 13 Km from Ooty main bus station and will take more than 15 Mins even for a fast and furious driver in no traffic. Mind you that there are 15 hair pins to cover in about 7 Km (the rest 6 Km from main station is not so hair-piny) to get to this place.
At the check-in, I was not asked for any ID which was weird and I wondered later if this place was used for 'other' purposes, I've heard typically that's where they don't bother asking who's who. As I checked-in, I told the manager I tried calling the land-line number specified by MMT. Com and there was no response. I was told very casually that number is not working. There were two managers at the reception (a young chap in the day time and an older one) who were quite unwelcoming to my experience. The other helping staff were way below average. Then I went into what was supposed to be the Heritage room which was next to common games area, it was dark room with space little enough to move around. Then I asked the manager if there was anything with the breathtaking views as seen on the websites. He said that was Vintage room which would cost an additional Rs. 800. I was told the Vintage only has a better view with fireplace (see pics), that's it. Having seen the Vintage room I decided to 'upgrade' and paid by cash. The room was not ready for occupancy I suppose, so I had to ask to change bedsheets (stains), spreads (not changed since last check-out), pillow covers (not changed since last check out), toilets (stained lines as though it was cleaned few years ago moreover, they use water stored in swimming pool), TV remote and everything one after the other. The water in the bathroom comes from swimming pool which is their store and also used by other customers to take a dip. You'll never brush your teeth here.
The name Vintage lived up to expectation - it seemed never cleaned since the 'Vintage'. All of the curtains were full of fungus, the chair cushion was full of fungus and not sit-worthy. It was obvious only some of it could be changed. The view from this room was really breathtaking, but you could get that from the highway nearby. Why pay so much for a room near it which is in such a disgusting state! Anyway the check-in was done and there was not going to be a refund, so it's lunch time. Since, this place is so far away from city and any possible restaurant, food order (8 phulkas and 1 egg curry) was placed for about Rs. 500 Inc all possible taxes which seems half filling. In the evening it seemed lot colder (as expected in December) and the rooms had bad ventilation (none of the windows closed properly, the bathroom window was broken and bathroom door didn't close properly) and I asked if there was a plan for camp-fire since, it seemed to have been prepared in the garden area. The manager very politely said not all rooms were full so he'll arrange for fire in the room itself. Excited enough, thinking this is probably going to make it worth the stay I waited for the room boy to do his work (with left of over pieces of silver oak tree). After he lit the fire the first thing he said was 'this is Rs. 200 and you'll have to pay now'. I had no idea left over from silver oak costs so much although I lived in Chikmagalur for 25 year! Then started arguments that this was not informed earlier, then there were lots of arguments that this was usually charged Rs. 300 but for me it was discounted (there was no reason to do that though). The manager then pro-actively said he will give me an couple more refills breaking all their policies. I waited for 45 minutes and no one showed up to refill the firewood and calling reception was useless so I went to the reception at about 10 PM. The manager was sleeping beneath a few blankets just behind the reception desk with few of other assistance staff watching TV and playing on their phones. Now I was explained that they had run out of timber and that he didn't consider telling me this before he decided to tuck himself in to the bed. So, the sincere manager offered me a room heater at Rs. 100 and an extra blanket at no cost. If everything is charged extra what did I pay for - a dirty and un-liveable room with a breathtaking view? The manager said MMT did not update the terms and conditions!
The dinner which was supposed to be delivered at room by 9: 30 PM was served earlier at around 9: 00 PM instead. This 'frozen' dinner cost me approx Rs. 800 for 4 phulkas, bhindi curry and pulav which was half filling even for a baby. For the time ever I saw Pulav served without raita, this restaurant is definitely not driven by a Tamilian.
The next morning, it was truly amazing to experience the water falls view and it was time to take a shower. I called the reception a few times after trying to get hot water. Since there was no answer I walked up to reception, someone switched on something or turned the knob. It then took about 10 minutes before I could feel Luke warm water so shower was skipped.
I should have mentioned this before, but the monkeys in the property were more accompanying than any other service staff. They were there through out on the roof and making sure they made their presence felt. Even on the breakfast table. For breakfast there was poori, aloo and pongal with disgusting coffee made of milk powder. This confirmed that the chef was an outsider and not local. The T&C list at the hotel shows Rs 150 chargeable to use fireplace once and yet I paid Rs. 200. On questioning this I was told it was old price. I kept wondering does it take nothing to get a 'Trip Service Excellence award 2015'? What service did I really get? Does Tripadvisor have a benchmark at all?
Overall, I paid Rs 3, 500 (excluding MMT discount) + Rs 1, 300 food + Mineral Water at Rs. 45 and taxes + Rs 200 for fire / covering up the ventilation issues with the Vintage rooms. All I got is a view that I could have just on the highway. Was it worth it? No, will I go there again? No, Will I RECOMMEND this place? SURE NO, this is a pathetic hotel in awesome location.
I had plan to stay 2 nights in Ooty and this hotel was booked for just 1 night due to my sceptical sense. I checked-out and went straight to another hotel which I had a peaceful shower and stay. Read my review for Sterling Elk Hill, at a price much less than this and comfort a lot more than this. I also wondered about other fellow travellers who rated this place so good although, very few of them disliked the service.