It was a last minute decision to travel to Pondichery from Chennai over the weekend (it is a drive of about 120 kms- 2.5 hours) and Pondichery does tend to get a lot of people from Chennai and other towns nearby over the weekends. I wanted to stay smack in the French quarter and so I booked myself the last available room at Villa Shanti on Rue Suffren. I was, however, slightly apprehensive. Some boutique hotels in India (especially in towns with a lot of foreign tourists) often tend to treat the locals as second class citizens. So I wasn’t congratulating myself on a good choice yet.
My fears were however assuaged when the staff checking us in turned out to be extremely helpful (including in helping me park my car). The entire hotel has a very bright and fresh ambiance. The restaurant is a delightful space located in the courtyard- there are fans to help beat the heat and trust me it can get quite hot and humid. The hotel is located just 2 streets off the beach promenade which is a great space to hang out over the weekend evenings. Hundreds of people walk around in what is quite a festive atmosphere. You can also walk around the French quarter looking at the quaint old buildings.
Our room at Villa Shanti was an excellent- we had a junior suite. The room was large and quite well furnished (I hate it when under the name of heritage or boutique, hotels furnish your room sparsely). There was also a small balcony which was just fantastic. The bed was quite tall- there were little foot stools to help you climb but it may not be the best option for young children or older people.
The bathroom section was also clean and appropriate (no hot water problems thankfully- another issue that plagues boutique hotels). They had real ‘L’Occitane en Provence’ amenities which really for me sets apart a great hotel from the rest.
The staff at the restaurant were also helpful and prompt. The food was tasty- the place does however tend to fill up quite a bit over the weekends so make a reservation in advance or just walk out and you’ll find tons of other restaurants just off the street.
I definitely look forward to my next visit to Pondichery and Villa Shanti.