The Gateway Hotel Pasumalai Madurai is a throw back to the days of the old British Empire with grand settings, luxury villas, attentive service and fine living.
Located on top of a steep hill what the hotel lacks in practicality for the less mobile of guests it makes up for with stunning vistas of the city of Madurai below.
Brief history of The Gateway Hotel Pasumalai Madurai
The original buildings date back to the 1890s as this used to be the residence for the Chief Executive Officers of J.B. Coats Ltd. The company is now known as Madurai Coats Ltd and is a major textile company in India.
The location has developed from the main block house atop the hill to a series of houses and blocks scattered across the hill. Many of these blocks may only hold 3 or 4 rooms in total so there is a fair element of privacy.
The entire location was acquired by the Taj Group of Hotels in 1989 and branded for a while as the Taj Garden Retreat. Whilst remaining within the same group as Taj the hotel has re-branded as just “The Gateway Hotel” and when I visited had a new manager in place for 3 months.
My previous visit to a Madurai hotel was to a more centralised location. However recent visitors to this hotel had reported issues over the food so a return to The Gateway Hotel Pasumalai Madurai seemed worthy of consideration.
Facilities at The Gateway Hotel Madurai
Whilst you are located a fair way from the city and there is little chance of me walking down the very long, windy and steep road to the bottom of the hill, there is enough comfort to keep you contented on a short stay.
The hotel provides a fitness centre, badminton and tennis courts, outdoor swimming pool, table tennis, snooker and chess.
Spoil yourself with a steam bath, massage or rejuvenation programmes. If it interest you it is also possible to arrange a palm reading.
The surroundings are full of natural beauty to compliment the view of the city below. A range of vegetation exist and a variety of trees, clearly labelled too. The Banyan tree seemed popular here and its distinct style made it easy to spot.
The Gateway Hotel even has a green butler who can guide you on “peacock gazing”, bird watching and “squirrel stroking.” Squirrels were certainly wide spread through the location as indeed are peacocks. One morning I had to wait my turn ascending some steps as a peacock was ahead of me.
Accommodation at The Gateway Hotel Pasumalai Madurai
The chalet style rooms offer bright colours merged with dark brown wood fittings.
My room consisted of two wide single beds, a work desk, lounge chair plus normal sitting chair.
As well as a two door sliding wardrobe I found a clothes storage area within the cabinet underneath the flat screen TV.
Tea/coffee making facilities were in room with a small electric kettle. A mini-bar located in the fridge with prices not too scary for a western visitor.
In room wifi was available at a cost of around £10 a day. The service seems much improved from years ago, but then again the country is making strides on structural improvements in a lot of areas.
Climate control was always going to be interesting. A wall panel control box allowed you to manage settings for the air conditioning however setting a specific temperature was challenging. I found that even with the heat control at the warmest the room was too cold for me. Hence I turned it off and found more comfort with the electric fan overhead.
The en suite bathroom was spacious and spotlessly clean. The much loved walk-in shower was present with hotel branded and therapeutically smelling toiletries. For such a plus location I did wonder if they would include the option of a bath but it was not to be.
Room cleaners made a point each day of organising my personal toiletries (razor, shaving cream, contact lens solution etc) neatly on top of a towel beside the sink.
I was unhappy at the fact that the sink was designed without a plug. Even if they supplied a plug the way the plug hole was designed there was no way you could fit it in. In the end I resorted to using an electric shaver as opposed to a wet shave each morning.
Eating and Drinking at The Gateway Hotel Madurai
The Gateway Hotel Palumalai Madurai offers Harvey’s Lounge Bar beside Reception. It looks like a relaxing place to unwind and taste a cocktail or Kingfisher beer. This is also by the snooker room if that interests you. However note that the bar does not serve food or “snacks” as I was misinformed by staff during my visit.
The restaurant offers a range of western and Indian cuisine. The hotel literature advises that the restaurant opens from 7am to 11pm but that is very misleading. A sign outside the restaurant states that it opens at 6:30am. I also went for my evening meal at 6:30 during my first night only to be told they didn’t open until 7pm.
Each evening there is an all you can eat Indian cuisine buffet for around £10 a head. There is a good variety of curries and dishes with and without meat. (Did you know that more than half the India population are vegetarian?).
Whilst I enjoy curries at home I am pretty much a wimp in my spice tolerance, a biryani is about my limit. An English biryani wouldn’t even come close to the term mild (more like bland) to an Indian. My queries as to whether the curries were mild were met with assurances from staff that they were “very mild”. However on tasting they were certainly at the top end of my spice tolerance before major discomfort.
The hotel does offer a range of western food too but maybe not always the healthiest. Selections include pizza, pasta, fish and chips plus burgers and sandwiches. I did find a fish dish and some salads too so you can mix it up each day.
There is also 24 hour room service, typically served within 20-30 minutes of ordering.
Staff and service
I found the staff to be very polite on all occasions and even to some extent overbearingly helpful. I’d be walking a short 20-30 yards from my company car to my hotel room whilst a member of staff would race down the hill towards me insisting that he carry my light bag for me. I’m not sure about you but I’m a fairly independent hotel guest and like to carry things myself unless I specifically look for help. As a result it was a little bit frustrating to repeat myself 2 or 3 times to a staff member that whilst I was grateful for the offer I could manage this myself.
Service in the restaurant was mostly highly attentive. Having said that on the first night in spite of there being more staff than diners I did have to twice request my bill over a 15 minute period.
On the positive side they remember you quickly and give you a personal greeting. They even remembered my room number after the first day and picked up on what I liked for breakfast before I even ordered.
Concluding my review of The Gateway Hotel Pasumalia Madurai
I’d certainly say The Gateway Hotel Pasumalia Madurai is a fine way to take a luxurious hotel stay in a throwback building from colonial times.
The buildings, setting and views are highly enviable and there is a clear sense of privacy once you retire to your room.
My discontent for the controls on the air conditioning plus the lack of a plug sink fade to insignificance when you look at the overall experience. This is fine hotel living with overbearingly efficient and respectful service. I may not be royalty but it feels like it at times.
You can now read some more independent reviews of The Gateway Hotel.