Staying at the Shreemaya Hotel, Indore, India

By Andrew Alderson

Andrew Alderson settles in at the Shreemaya Hotel, in Indore, India.
Shreemaya Hotel, Indore.
Shreemaya Hotel, Indore.

Location: Indore is a village by Indian standards (population about 2.1 million). The Shreemaya is set back from a main thoroughfare and handy to most amenities. The Holkar cricket stadium was about 2km or less than a 10-minute tuk-tuk ride away.

Check-in: My Indian cricket journo mate, Vijay, said his chum, Rakesh, would sort my booking during the third India-New Zealand test in the recent series. Sure enough Rakesh, with name badge gleaming, was on reception. I passed on Vijay's regards with a wink and a nod. Rakesh grinned, presented my key and offered some complimentary masala chai and a samosa. We were off the mark.

Room: A studio on the second floor with a balcony decked in a mini rainforest.

Price: $103 a night.

What's so good about this place? Serenity. Immerse yourself in the frenzy of India but here there is an option to take a breather. The staff are imbued with a universal "helpful" gene.

And the bad? Try getting across the roundabout next door to the hotel. Go on, I dare you. One afternoon, when poor rationing had seen my two slabs of Whittaker's hokey pokey chocolate disappear within a fortnight, I thought I'd treat myself to a couple of Subway cookies as a break from 24/7 curries. Gliding with the traffic while staring into the whites of the drivers' eyes was unforgettable. However, I panicked when a bus barrelled around the corner on two wheels and scrambled back to my room a gibbering mess. Cue serenity.

What's in the neighbourhood? Cars, auto-rickshaws and buses that could have completed the stunt scenes in Speed. The Shreemaya is dry, but 300m along the road The Lemon Tree has a cracking boozer with an antique chess set and pool table.

Food and drink? The breakfast was a delight. I try to go local in India which meant stuffing myself with masala dosa, dhal, paratha and lassi. Once the staff established my routine they delivered everything to the table, including a cup of tea made to my specs.

The bed? A comfortable queen. It must've been. I conked out within seconds every night while the test was on.

Bathroom? The hot water took a while to work through the pipes ... a minor blemish. Quibbling now, but constipation's hardly rife when you tour India, so the one-ply dunny rolls cut it a bit fine on the absorption front.

Noise: A highlight with the perpetual soundtrack of parping horns. I opened the window and had instant "theatre of the mind" for my radio work. Then a local festival started and the fireworks sounded like bombs going off, adding spice to live interviews. Nothing disrupted my sleep.

Perfect as: A refuge on any trip to Indore.

Would I return? Without doubt, because of how the customer service exceeded expectations ...and to have another crack at that roundabout.

- NZ Herald

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