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“A Tale of Two Hotels........Know Before You Go”

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The Gateway Hotel Janardhanapuram Varkala
Ranked #3 of 52 Hotels in Varkala
Certificate of Excellence
Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
17 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
“A Tale of Two Hotels........Know Before You Go”
Reviewed 3 March 2011

Great location, the hotel is set on a raised point of land and is surrounded by vegetation and palm trees(typical Kerala). Not far from the beach, which has a large life guard patrolled area and is cleaned every day by a team of local tourist dept cleaners. The sea was wonderful. But be aware, this hotel has two very distinct halves, something which some other reviewers probably never realised. The wing with rooms beginning with a number 1, eg 102, 103 etc are all newly refurbished and are very nice with all modern decor, huge super kingsize beds, flat screen TV, great bathroom etc. The other wing with rooms beginning with a number 2 are old, shabby and have dated decor, old style dodgy TV and electrics, and tatty old bathrooms. This wing also has the huge noisy kitchen extractor, and the closer the room is to the central block , the greater the noise. Also the refurbished wing looks over trees and foliage and the other wing faces the hotel utilities site (screened by a green mesh sheet stretched in front). So like we did, unless you get a 'new room' on arrival, insist on being moved. The hotel should give a priority to getting all rooms up to standard. The manager is very pleasant and the staff are also pretty good and friendly with just the one glum face that we saw (a young lad at reception who never smiled). The pool looks out over the surrounding greenery and is fairly good but suffers from lack of sunbeds/sunshades. This is such a fundamental requirement yet we saw people arrive who couldn't get a bed as there are so few, and some beds had to go without shade as there are just a handful of shades. I felt sorry for Mathew the pool attendant who struggled to appease disgruntled guests. I told him the management should get this sorted and it wasn't his fault, he is very good and has excellent customer service skills. There is plenty of space for more beds but the management mustn't rate this as important. We went to the beach a lot so it didn't trouble us too much. On one occassion, after a complaint by a group of guests, some old fashioned metal folding beds were brought out, we joked with some other guests that these looked like old military hospital beds. The food is fine and no complaints but it's always difficult to please all of the people all of the time as it's such a personal thing, we had no complaints and were always filled but still ate out sometimes as you always get a bit tired of the hotel grub. Also it's worth noting that you can go out and get a really nice meal with drinks for the price of drinks alone in the hotel. Get a Tuk Tuk up to the cliff top restaurants for just 50 rupees, great!! (try ABBA restaurant, nice clean kitchen and you can see them cooking). Don't worry too much about paying extra for a 'sea view' room as this is misleading, the lower rooms are nice and have there own little front gardens, the most important thing is to insist on one of the 'new' rooms. We would consider staying here again...........but of course only in the nice rooms!! I suppose in a year's time it may be all up-graded. I assume the Taj Group owners are keen to keep there reputation for good hotels. They have a little work to do at the Gateway Varkala.

  • Stayed February 2011, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
10 Thank Thetruthgoblin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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English first
New York, NY
Level 5 Contributor
74 reviews
33 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 111 helpful votes
Reviewed 22 February 2011

This hotel is located on a beautiful piece of property, with lovely water views from the higher floors. It is not right along the beach, but about a 10 minute walk will get you there. Service is high quality, room service is available, and the breakfast and dinner feature authentic Indian food and passable Western food.

We arrived at this hotel late at night and were given a ground floor room. It smelled horrendously strongly of mold - like a crypt. It was so strong as to be sickening. The room was otherwise clean, and the beds were comfortable, but the smell was overpowering. The television also did not work at all.

The following day we upgraded (for Rs 2000 a day) to a suite on the first floor with a water view. This room smelled less like mold, but the odor was still distinct in the living room area. However, it was something we could live with. Again, neither of the TVs in the room worked. Not a huge issue, but in a town with no nightlife, it would have been nice to have. The hotel is also not cheap for what it is.

The property is well-maintained and there is a spacious swimming pool area. The fitness center consists mainly of a treadmill. There is also the obligatory ayurvedic spa.

We loved Varkala, and absent the mold problem, would strongly recommend this hotel. However, something like that raises serious issues about cleanliness and attention to detail by the Taj chain itself. There may well be hotels along the beachfront that are closer to the beach and offer fewer amenities, but otherwise may be better.

  • Stayed February 2011, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank jlb3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bengaluru, India
Level 3 Contributor
9 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed 25 January 2011

We stayed at Gateway Varkala for our anniversary trip. The hotel is quiet, near to the beach with great views all around. It blends the beauty, serenity and quietness of Varkala perfectly. Even if you are not in a mood to go around the place, just sit down near the pool and enjoy the spectacular views all around. Kudos to the property and the management of the property.

  • Stayed January 2011, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank RohanJalan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London
Level 5 Contributor
69 reviews
61 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 150 helpful votes
Reviewed 17 January 2011

I stayed at the Gateway Hotel for eight nights at the end of December. It should be noted that the hotel is in the middle of refurbishment, with about half the rooms currently having been updated along with the restaurant and bar. I understand that the remainder of the hotel will be refurbished, including the rest of the rooms and the pool area, starting in March 2011. The hotel is quietly located on a hill with views over the coconut palms to the sea beyond. A path leads from the pool area down to the tatty and rubbish strewn end of Varkala beach. The hotel is small and service should be a strong point as there seemed to be a high ratio of staff to guests, but service was very hit and miss, especially at breakfast where the staff couldn’t get their act together to replenish juice, offer tea and coffee etc. Staff at the hotel were friendly but pretty hopeless, never answering questions and failing to return phone calls. An indication of this sloppiness is the fact that we emailed the hotel with a simple question prior to arrival and it took them two months to respond. On a positive note Jesu, the pool attendant, took pride in his work, and was always cheerful and helpful. The beds were comfortable and the refurbished rooms are bright, modern and comfortable, the food was good but expensive. The pool area was pleasant to spend the day but it is in dire need of the refurbishment. A hotel of this size should be able to provide intimate slick service but it totally fails to deliver. When all the works are complete hopefully things will improve.

  • Stayed December 2010, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Davidob
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Köln
Level 3 Contributor
12 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed 15 January 2011

This is part of the taj group but not as luxurius as the vivanta taj series of hotels, but still worth 4 stars. The rooms in the middle are nice, to the right and left wing of the hotel they have no views at all. The service in the hotel is good, in the restaurant very bad- if you stay here dont eat here. The food on the menu, apart from the breakfast and buffets they offer, is overpriced and tasteless. the pool is very nice, but get up early to get one of the 8 sunbeds...if the hotel is full it is a bit overpopulated. It is 5 minutes walk from the beach. It is quite far though from Varkala's beach strip with restaurants etc- you will need a taxi.

  • Stayed January 2011, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank fwigger
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
East Sussex
Level 6 Contributor
156 reviews
55 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 92 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 January 2011

In all we enjoyed our stay at the Gateway and will go back but perhaps not for two weeks. It was just right for the break we wanted - a relaxed couple of weeks in a familiar area, in a small 3/4* hotel geared for couples (rather than families) which had a swimming pool, a restaurant and served alcohol.

We were concerned by some of the reviews about the Taj Gateway before we went on holiday and even checked with the agents whether we had other options in Varkala: but in the end we stuck with it. We were there at the end of November 2010 and this was our second visit – the first was 10 years ago when the hotel was a Taj Garden Retreat. Although the refurbishment talked about in other reviews was coming to an end, the restaurant was not open until our second week. There was evidence of continuing work in other places around the hotel but it generally wasn’t noisy or a problem. It has probably finished now.

We had a Garden Room which was lovely and pretty much what we expected – updated since our last visit with a great bathroom and very large and comfortable bed and kept very clean. The room had air conditioning and a fan – as well as a fridge and tea and coffee making equipment. Any small things that were not quite right were dealt with quickly and efficiently.

We were on a full-board deal. In the evenings we alternated between the new al a carte ‘modern’ menu and buffets. Breakfast was OK but was much the same every day: fruit, toast, eggs, Indian option etc. The chefs were very flexible and would serve off the menu or prepare things specially for you – they even prepared a special Bengali supper for just the two of us. Fish and seafood were extra and we didn’t try them at the hotel but the food is really good quality and less rich than in the former Taj. We even had an impromptu cookery lesson learning to make breads and the tamarind dipping sauce they serve with samosas. I also had a birthday when we were away and we found a surprise birthday cake in our room which had also been specially decorated.

The hotel isn’t big but we were very glad that it wasn’t busy while we were there. The restaurant is small and the inside area which was newly refurbished really lacked atmosphere – nicer to sit outside if you can get a table. It’s a shame they don’t make more use of the large reception/foyer which has a great view and was where we ate before the restaurant reopened. It would be a lovely place to sit and have snacks and a drink and watch the sun go down.

The swimming pool is a bit dated but the surrounding area was kept clean. There really were not enough sun-beds when we were there – as it wasn’t busy this was OK but our last few days we had to be quick after breakfast to get a bed. The pool was murky the first few days (and we swam in it anyway) but it did clear and the team who looked after the swimming pool certainly worked hard – we were told it was because there had been so much rain that it was like that. There is a good path down to the beach (much improved on 10 years ago) although the beaches in this area are not as good as in Goa. We were stunned at how developed the cliff top had become but still enjoyed a daily walk along the top and a beer at sunset.

I tried the massage at the hotel which was OK but the setting is very ‘clinical’ which I guess isn’t surprising for a Ayurvedic cente. But it’s worth also trying the Eden Garden down the path which was a great setting and is a bit cheaper.

Staff at the Taj Gateway are absolutely charming, very accommodating and helpful. We only have one grumble and that was the wi-fi which is very expensive and very slow. We ended up going to a shack on the cliff where you could get free wi-fi which was also much faster.

  • Stayed November 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank RandDtravellers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Glasgow, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
43 reviews
27 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 61 helpful votes
Reviewed 26 December 2010

Stayed at the Gateway Hotel for 10 days, after a 7-day tour of Kerala. The hotel is located on a hill with easy access to the beach through the hotel grounds (5 minutes). We found the hotel to exceed our expectations. We were full-board and found the food excellent, plenty of choice from the a la carte menu - both Indian and European. A couple of days into
the stay we had to modify our eating habits, as the portions were very large. The accommodation was excellent, clean, roomy, comfortable and very quiet. We had a garden
room rather than the sea-view (extra cost) and found this ideal as each bedroom had its own private garden. Tea & coffee-making in the room was a welcome addition, as was the .two free bottles of water each day. Also free newpaper each morning which kept up-to-date.
Very friendly staff - nothing was too much bother. Local bus into Varkala (six pence each way) good. Lovely 3-km. walk back down-hill very interesting. Local train station in Varkala - wish we had tried this - gives access to many places. Nice swimming-pool with attentive life-guard. No problems with sun-loungers and towels. Lovely walk along the cliffs above the beach. Would recommend walking past the Black Beach to the small fish-village -
where you might be lucky enough to see them landing their catch (about 12 noon).
Not really the place for people looking for night-life. Plenty of cafes and shops along the cliffs.

  • Stayed December 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
1 Thank barneyandnan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about The Gateway Hotel Janardhanapuram Varkala

Property: The Gateway Hotel Janardhanapuram Varkala
Address: Near Government Guest House | Janardhanapuram, Varkala 695141, India
Phone Number:
Region: India > Kerala > Thiruvananthapuram District > Varkala
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#1 Spa Hotel in Varkala
#2 Family Hotel in Varkala
#4 Romantic Hotel in Varkala
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:4 star — The Gateway Hotel Janardhanapuram Varkala 4*
Number of rooms: 30
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
It is set amidst tall, swaying palms and is 60 ft high on a cliff, Varkala is located 55 kms (1 hr 15 m drive) from Thiruvananthapuram International Airport. The railway station is a 5 minute drive from the hotel. The hotel offers a choice of 30 elegant rooms including 2 suites. A multi-cuisine restaurant and 2 bars, meeting room, Ayurvedic center, WiFi and indoor/outdoor sports facilities makes the hotel an ideal getaway for the discerning leisure traveler. ... more   less 
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The Gateway Hotel Janardhanapuram Varkala Kerala

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