This was my first time in Hyderabad and, after seeing this Taj property at a good price, I was tempted to try it. Though what was to follow wasn’t really what I had expected…
Booking Taj Deccan
I reserved a “Superior Room” with one king bed, described by hotels.com as a 30sq m2 room with city views. I paid just over INR 6,000 for a one-night stay, booked the day before my stay.
Getting to Taj Deccan
I took an Uber from the airport to Taj Deccan, as this was the most reliable option for me. There were prepaid taxis, which were quoting almost double the price plus I didn’t want to depend on a local company especially since this was my first time to the city.
There is a dedicated area for Uber and Ola (the Indian competitor of Uber), located a 2-3 mins walk from the airport terminal gate.
There is a queue in which you have to wait, and unlike normal situations where you are assigned your Uber, here I received a code from Uber which I had to give to the driver. After feeding this into his application he would get my destination information.
First of all, the car wasn’t in the best of shapes. Secondly the driver didn’t enter the code, which made me feel unsafe.
Luckily we were still on the airport road so I asked him to enter the code. Again, he didn’t do it and instead initiated a conversation about Covid-19. A couple of minutes into the conversation, he mentioned that Uber charges INR 300 as commission, and that he’d rather keep Uber out of this transaction.
This is a common practice across a lot of places in India, so don’t panic if something similar happens with you. Stay alert though, and don’t pay more than the price indicated by Uber when you booked your trip.
He asked for my destination and kindly requested me to just pay him whatever the application had stated.
It took me around 40 mins to reach the hotel.
About Taj Deccan
Primarily catering to the business market, Taj Deccan is located in the famous Banjara Hills and has restaurants and malls in close proximity.
Right across the street is Taj Krishna, which is a luxury leisure hotel.
The 30-years-old Deccan is spread over a large area and is in close proximity to a number of other five-star properties.
The hotel was in the process of renovation, including to rooms and the courtyard, during my visit.
Unfortunately, there was very little to do in the hotel as the coffee shop, swimming pool, gym and spa were all closed due to coronavirus restrictions. The hotel was having a tough time adapting to the ongoing situation.
Taj Deccan arrival, check in and lobby
Since I had an early flight to Hyderabad I had made a prior request to the hotel to allow me an early check-in, and they were happy to oblige.
I was welcomed to the hotel by a refreshing smell of jasmine and soothing music but that moment of pleasure was short-lived as it was interrupted by an unhappy customer checking out.
He was very upset about his mini bar being empty (due to state regulations surrounding covid-19) and that he was waiting for a response to something for 35 or 40 minutes, which honestly I feel is really bad for a Taj hotel.
I was seated at a nearby chair and offered water while the check in process was completed.
From the reception to the lifts, you have to pass through the courtyard where I noticed that there was construction work going on.
My room was on the second floor, and I was accompanied there by the accommodations manager, Prasad. After showing me the room, he stayed back for another 5-7 minutes telling me about the hotel.
Any other time of the day, I wouldn’t have minded that at all, but I had just taken an early morning flight and desperately needed a nap.
Taj Deccan room
I had booked an entry level room, and that’s exactly what I received, except that this was the hotel's only renovated room (out of 151 rooms).
I was assigned room no 225, located at the end of the hallway on the second floor.
The room was big enough and there was good enough furniture. It featured a king size bed, there was a mirror near the door, then there was a couch by the window as well as a desk across from the bed near the window.
There was wooden flooring in the room and it gave a premium feel.
The bed was comfortable, though I would have liked the pillows softer and larger.
Next to the main door was the bathroom, which had a toilet, and then the sink and the shower room next to one another. Outside the toilet door was the closet.
Toiletries were all from Forest Essentials.
Wifi in the room (and throughout the hotel) was free, but was very slow.
My room was overlooking the lawn, which was really good as they have a well-maintained lawn.
Taj Deccan room service
My stay at Taj Deccan was only for one night and so I wasn’t able to try their room service. Though the menu looked rather vast.
Taj Deccan restaurants and coffee shop
Taj Deccan has two restaurants and a coffee shop, which is where the breakfast buffet is usually served. Since the renovation of the ceiling was going on at the time, the breakfast had been moved to Spice Junxion - their speciality south Indian restaurant.
Spice Junxion is located on the ground floor, next to the coffee shop.
The restaurant is spacious with a private seating area as well. It has large windows overlooking the lawn and the sunlight refreshes the mood.
Here are some shots of the Spice Junxion interior:
Taj Deccan breakfast
Breakfast buffet is served from 7am to 10.30am. It extended to Atrium bar, which has one entrance through Spice Junxion and another from the lawn side.
The buffet spread had good enough variety to choose from. I ordered an Americano at my table, which was just alright.
There were no live counters but there were different types of omelettes, pancakes, waffles, dosas, peserettu, etc. served on order.
I ordered a masala dosa and a small portion of peserettu - the manager insisted I tried this as it is a speciality around that part of the country.
There is a special counter for filter coffee (also called meter coffee). Its a must-try.
Taj Deccan’s older rooms
Upon my request, I was granted access to one of their old rooms as I wanted an idea of what their pre-renovation rooms looked like.
The setting of the room was similar to mine.
The work table was bigger.
There was artwork inside the room.
The bathroom door knob was an old style.
The shower was in the tub, and I prefer the renovated bathroom.
The view from this room was blocked by tree branches and I had a tough time figuring out which side I was looking at. There was a lot of work going on right outside the door and I had to request the worker to stop drilling while I passed.
Taj Deccan’s gym, swimming pool and tennis court
Taj Deccan has a well-equipped gym, an outdoor swimming pool and the only tennis court in the locality. Unfortunately during my stay at the hotel, these facilities were shut as part of the precautionary measures taken by the state govt to avoid the spread of covid-19.
I was allowed access to look at the gym.
The dressing area has a jacuzzi, sauna, massage room and steam room inside.
The swimming pool area was off limits and the seating around the pool was also taken off.
The tennis court was clay, and it had some seating available for guests.
I would have liked to try these facilities out as they looked well maintained. The gym was well equipped and looked to have good quality equipment.
Taj Deccan’s banquets
The largest event space Taj Deccan offers is The Main Lawns, which can accommodate up to 1,500 guests.
Standing second is The Kohenur banquet - the one with no pillars. It has a maximum capacity of 500 guests. I wasn’t allowed to click pictures of this, but at least I got to take a look from inside. That wasn’t the case with other banquets, as there was work going on and some banquets have been rented out.
They have enough parking space to able to accommodate the visiting guests at the banquets.
Taj Deccan spaces for rent
Between the lobby level and the first floor, there is an E-level and Taj Deccan has rented out the entire floor to Awfis - an Indian company providing co-working spaces to startups, freelancers and enterprises.
There are British deputy commission and US trade commission offices in the hotel. One side of the second floor is off limits and heavily guarded by armed personnel.
One of the banquet facilities has been taken over by the British deputy commission which is used for conducting IELTS exams, said a staff member.
Thoughts on the locality (Banjara Hills)
This was my first time in Hyderabad, and I really only had a day to explore the locality.
Banjara Hills is an upscale dining and nightlife hub where smart bars and cafes, high-end Indian restaurants and hotels with nightclubs sit alongside popular shopping malls like City Centre and GVK One.
A 25-30mins car ride from the old city, Banjara Hills is the most prestigious part of the Hyderabad area to stay.
I couldn’t leave Hyderabad without trying the famous Hyderabadi biryani and Prasad at Taj Deccan suggested me two places serving the best biryani - Sarvi and Paradise. I chose to visit Sarvi as it is just five minutes’ tuktuk ride away from the hotel.
Another place worth mentioning is Labonel fine baking - an elegant bakery offering fancy cakes located just 300m from Taj Deccan. I'm mentioning this place mainly for their classic chocolate brownies - they are worth dying for (and I'm still drooling...).
I have mixed feelings about Taj Deccan because I was impressed by the property (you can spend an entire weekend in the hotel and you wouldn’t be bored), but for me, their staff let them down.
One instance really hit rock bottom in terms of their behaviour towards guests. I was clicking a picture in the court yard and a staff member (supposedly a manager) charged towards me while yelling at me not to take photos. He then stood right in my face and demanded that I delete that picture!
For that reason, my experience wasn’t great. The hotel staff were not willing to take an extra step in making the guests feel comfortable, and were not at all hesitant in saying a firm “No”.
Unless they have a miraculous change in their attitudes, I think there’s a long way to go before I step back into this property (owned by GVK).
If I were to return to Hyderabad I’d most likely avoid Taj Deccan. There are other hotels at a similar price range, so I would prefer to try somewhere else.
What do you make of Taj Deccan? Would you consider staying here?