Updates from : The Hindu
A hotel inside a mall is becoming a common phenomenon all over India. Realtors have found that mixed use properties — combining office spaces, malls, entertainment zones and a hotel — work better than stand-alone entities as they cut risk and cushion the pressures of high land costs. For the guest too it spells convenience as you get options to eat out, watch a movie, shop and stay at the same venue. So whether it is the Leela Ambience at Gurgaon, the Fortune Select Metropolitan at Jaipur or the Marriott at the Lulu Mall in Kochi, it has been a growing trend to club hotels and malls.
Now The Waverly Hotel & Residences in VR Bengaluru set up by investor Siddharth Yog’s company Virtuous Retail extends that proposition in unique ways. When you think Whitefield you naturally think IT as this suburb has virtually been taken over by the tech brigade. But a stay at The Waverly will change your perception as it eschews the American Silicon Valley dream and treads the British path to build a charming connection with Whitefield’s Anglo Indian heritage.
The story goes that in 1882, the then Maharaja of Mysore, Chamaraja Wodeyar granted 3,900 acres to the Anglo Indian community. The area got its name from David White who supervised the settlement. Whitefield of those days boasted colonial style quaint bungalows, cottages and inns and taverns, including The Waverly Inn. Legend has it that Sir Winston Churchill visited The Waverly Inn often as he was courting the inn keeper’s daughter Rose Hamilton.
Whether true or not, it’s a delightful story to build a hotel’s theme on and The Waverly — named after that old inn — does full justice to it, right from the reception to the rooms to the restaurant.
If the entrance is reminiscent of a colonial verandah with cane chairs under tall ceiling fans then the lobby is a blast from the past with old telephone kiosks, shelves lined with second hand books and vintage photographs. The décor everywhere is very British though the connect with Bengaluru is consistently maintained through beautiful illustrations of the city’s favourite haunts by artist Paul Fernandes. I find myself comparing Fernandes’ loving sketches that capture the ethos of the city with Mario Miranda’s illustrations of Goa. Step outdoors and giant Channapatna dolls add a dash of local colour and artisanship to the place.
Staying at the hotel, you find yourself constantly waltzing between a charming past and a vibrant present. From The Waverly you can easily access The Hive, a massive colourful co-working space that takes up 100,000 sq ft area and is open 24/7.
General Manager Naren Niranjan reveals that the hotel gets a lot of long staying guests who use The Hive for their meetings and work. The 54-room property has suites, studio apartments, lofts and standard rooms that seamlessly connect to all the facilities at the mall, be it the shops, the food court, the fitness centre, the jogging track or swimming pool on the rooftop. The one bedroom and two bedroom suites are sold out for a year, he says.
Food too can be ordered the modern way in your room through the Food Box app that gets you a meal from the mall’s many restaurants or you can walk down memory lane to the Whitefield Arms. This is a very retro British style pub that serves Anglo Indian cuisine, with a lovely outdoor area where you can soak in Bengaluru’s brilliant weather. Chef V Bharathan describes how he visited culinary historian and Anglo Indian cookbook writer Bridget White to learn authentic recipes which he has tweaked in his own inimitable way. A creamy touch to the mulligawtany soup lifts up the Madras pepper broth and is a great start to a delectable four-course meal the chef lays out with high points being a continental take on the mirch ka pakoda and a yummy carrot cake.
There’s plenty to keep the guest occupied as VR Bengaluru constantly engages with the local community through cultural fests and musical nights. A much sought- after event is a regular movie under the stars at the Sky Deck which claims to feature the largest outdoor LED screen in India, where old classics are screened. Guests at The Waverly get a pass to these events. There’s no denying the pull of The Waverly for business travellers and shopaholics. But by weaving in history, romance and some creative storytelling, The Waverly has created an ambience that will appeal to the trivia hunter too.
(The author was at The Waverly as a guest of the property)
Chitra Narayanan is an editorial consultant with BusinessLine who writes on consumer behaviour but keeps an interested gaze at the travel and hospitality sector