The Gateway Hotel Ganges

, Varanasi, India
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The Gateway Hotel Ganges

, Varanasi
5 star

Rooms: 130

Nadesar Palace Grounds, Nadesar - Varanasi - 221 002 - India | (91-542) 2503001
306 Traveller

Reviews - The Gateway Hotel Ganges

Historical Traveller Reviews of The Gateway Hotel Ganges

t saying much...

from satkin02
At first blush, this Taj Hotel was quite disappointing...the lobby is a bit dated and dingy (poor lighting) and there was a musty smell. However, we booked a suite and these rooms were well renovated, spacious, clean, attractive and up-to-date (e.g. 2 flat panel TVs). The grounds on the other hand were a little rough and could use the attention of a professional groundskeeper...but they certainly were adequate and you'd have to be a pretty big snob to complain about the pool...it really was pretty comfortable.

There are two restaurants...one continental and one Indian. The continental one was terrible...dirty and the food ranged between inedible (chocolate brownie) and mediocre (pizza). The Indian restaurant was much better although I'd recommend ordering a la carte instead of the buffet...it was much better. We found the wait staff to be quite pleasant and eager to please...although I wish Taj would pay them more or buy some of them new white dress shirts...some of them were stained (e.g. painted their house while wearing it?) and looked out-of-place with bow ties. Made you think 'how clean is the kitchen?'.

The hotel does have a well-stocked boutique...but be prepared to be stalked as you shop...it wasn't as bad as some of the shops near major tourist attractions but it was still a pain and somewhat surprising to experience in a hotel store.

Overall, Taj is the best bet in Varanasi...which explains why Taj hasn't invested too much upgrading the property...why bother when you don't have many other options?

Never again.

from emaij
It was tough to get a reservation because it is high season. We ended up paying a lot for a really mediocre property. How Taj allows this property to remain "Taj" is beyond me.

The building itself is alright. It has been partially renovated but walls are old and stained, the halls are stale and unimpressive, and most of the design is dated and badly in need of renewal. I found the front desk staff to be very average to poor - though all the other staff at the hotel seemed very nice.

We ate in the two restaurants at the hotel. Both were absolutely disgusting. Even the Indian food was terrible (we love Indian food). The staff is very nice but avoid these restaurants if at all possible.

The other problem I had was with their wifi connection. I have been using my wifi laptop at hotels all over India. Never had a problem. Taj could not get it to work. The fist day they worked on it for almost 3 hours. On day 2 they told me to just use their computers. Again, the staff was very nice but they never got the job done.

Overall I thought the place was a dump. I should mention that I did not make it to the pool or onto the grounds so there may be some really wonderful things out there. But the basics - food and accommodations - are severely lacking.

Go to Varanasi

from am470
Taj Varanasi-Holy! This was by far our favorite city. I was so reluctant to visit because I heard that the accomodations are the least luxurious in Varanasi. Boy, am I glad we went. The ganges river was so cool, the ceremonies amazing, the shopping spectacular, and the people awe-inspiring. The Taj Hotel was above average, but definitely not in the same class as the other hotels. However, it is the best in Varanasi. We had a suite and it was nice (clean, large, etc.), but don't expect too much if you are a discriminating traveler. DO NOT VISIT INDIA WITHOUT GOING TO VARANASI. We only spent one night in Varanasi and we still felt like we saw everything we needed to see.

An Oasis

from Sevdoc
Disagree totally with the previous review !
The staff could not have been more friendly and helpful especially the Reception and the Concierge.
We had a great driver, Aftab, who really looked after us when driving through the chaotic scenes of Varanasi.
The room service even cleaned my shoes twice during one day after I had trod in some holy cow dung !!
The horse drawn carriage ride through the grounds was really interesting and we were treated to a viewing of the old Maharajah's residence that has not been occupied for 27 years by the charming guide.
Would also recommend the food (restaurant and outside BarBQ) Although it is not a deluxe property the staff made up for this and was certainly as good as it gets for Varanasi !

Disappointing for a Taj Hotel

from vanholt
This was one of the less pleasant hotels we stayed at in India. It is certainly not consistent with the generally high quality Taj chain of hotels. Varanasi is a big tourist trap and the hotel exists in the context of this environment. Instead of providing the traveler with a haven, its staff is unfriendly and unresponsive, appears to wish guests didn't exist, intrudes on privacy to exact purchase information that will allow them to get commissions from merchants, lobbies for guests to use their services when the prices are too high, and the restaurant food is very mediocre. We could not wait to escape.

Wedding on the Ganges

from Cancan
This is unarguably the best hotel in town, a sanctuary from the madness of the Varanasi streets. After sightseeing all day thru the chaotic traffic of the city, the moment your car/taxi enter the compound of the hotel I promise you will immediately understand the meaning of haven.
An old palace catered to foreign royalties and dignitaries during colonial days, the structure shows its age however it is well maintained. Hotel grounds is huge and the horse carriage ride is hightly recommended. We toured the actual palace, now abandoned, full of old photographs of famous guests and British Raj theme paintings. We also saw indigenous wildlife such as the peacock and elephant. The snake charmer was a little weak but nevertheless he was charming a live cobra!!
Hotel restaurants offer choices from fine dinning to buffet; both deliciously presented. You can even smoke some hookah at the bar.
The hotel offers private drivers for hire. Dress in white uniform they can also be your tour guide. At a very affordable cost you will be glad that you are with someone who knows the streets that are crowded amongst cows, goats, monkeys, dogs, bicycles, mopeds, cars, bus and trucks. This is a exciting and beautiful place.

Run down

from mlk1
Very run down rooms for a Taj hotel. The resturants are o.k. but nothing special.
Seems most suited to tour groups.
But then Varanasi is one of the greatest sights in the world so who cares about a hotel?

Competent but not great

from mhc754
We stayed here for 2 nights in January, 2006. The hotel was undergoing renovation. I believe we had a renovated room on a high floor with a pool view. It was modern with plasma TV and a marble (granite?) bath. We were very pleasantly surprised as we'd read some not so nice reviews and seen some older photos. Because the hotel was under-going construction, the pool was closed however we were still able to get some sun, just couldn't go into the pool.

Varanasi is a tough city. The infrastructure is probably the poorest of all the cities we visited. The power was intermittent and we felt fortunate to be staying at the TAj with its own backup generator. During one free afternoon, we noted that the power were down (and the backup generator kicked in) at least once every 45 minutes.

The food at the Taj was OK. Nothing to rave about. As a parting gift, the hotel gave us a tiny pot (sealed) of water from the river Ganges which we thought was a nice touch (and no problem getting through US custom).

The service was professional but not very helpful. The travel desk was quite useless. We requested the hotel to confirm our hotel reservation in Delhi, and the man said that he couldn't because it was a long distance call. Then they hired an incompetent private guide for us. We were told the best time to see the river Ganges was in the wee hour of the morning. We dragged ourselves out of bed only to find our guide half-asleep. He was bored (not just boring) and was practically asleep on our boat trip down the river. There wasn't much narration or explanation of the ghats. We were envious of other boats around us with lively guides.

Lastly at check out, we noticed 2 erroneous restaurant charges. The hotel manager made us wait while they dug up the bills. It was a good thing we weren't in a rush to get to the airport. After 30 minutes of digging around, they finally confirmed that the charges were billed incorrectly, and we were free to go. In sum, we didn't love Taj Ganges; however, there aren't many options in Varanasi.

not bad

from sfmwt
We stayed two nights in late June at the Taj Ganges. We went through an assortment of rooms, as we were given a complementary upgrade to a suite. The suite was very large, alhough somewhat garish. The property was having some summer construction work, and we were moved to a renovated regular room that was much, much nicer than the suite.

The meals were nothing to get excited about. The staff was pretty inefficient at the Chowk restaurant. At the nicer Indian restuarant, there was great live music and the staff tried hard, but just didn't quite get it.

The concierge was fine and did a good job of arranging what I can only assume was a typical day tour with morning and dusk on the Ganges.

The grounds are large and their are many services offered, but the only thing we did was go to the pool and used the mini fitness center for a bit. The pool is quite nice.

The Taj was not bad, although I would look into other options if I were to return to Varanasi.

Not impressed

from adwinn
I have stayed in at least a couple hundred hotels over the years. But this was the first one which I was so upset as to make a formal complaint after arriving back home.

Without getting into the drawn out details, upon checking out I had what should have been a minor problem regarding a small charge (15$ I believe) which I was not willing to pay full price for. I was willing to accept part of the blame for the charge and so was willing to pay their cost. Things were pleasant until I had to speak to someone who I believe was the assistant manager. He explained to me by saying the most incredible things why they had to charge me the full price all in a hushed voice. Any pleasantness on my face quickly disappeared as I listened to this fellow. By the end of his explanation, I was unimpressed and the issue now became a matter of principle. I find it difficult to believe that a group the size of Taj hotels would behave in the manner that I was told. I could not believe what I was hearing. My wife later remarked about that moment, that she had never seen me so upset with someone.

Eventually the manager of the hotel got involved and told me that they would give me a discount on the charge but one where they would still make profit on a mistake made by their hotel. To me this was not sufficient, but this was now 45 minutes after we first arrived at the checkout counter and we were getting late for our flight. Since we now had to go I asked for the bill and saw that the discount offered by the management was still not there and that I was paying too much. The manager told me that I would have to sign for the full amount but not to worry that the discount would be credited as a separate charge. I told them that I wouldn't sign the bill as is but the manager said that it was the way things worked at the hotel and so I would have to. It should come as no big surprise that it is now 2 months later and the only thing we have seen on our credit card from the hotel is the full amount of the charge. The credit was never done.

Even before that unpleasant incident, we were already unimpressed with the hotel. Shortly after arriving at the hotel, my wife remarked that even after 3 weeks in India, this hotel more than any other place we had seen, seemed to treat us like nothing more than a walking bank vault.

We went for a walk around the grounds and the paths out away from the hotel were filled with garbage, a lot of it seemingly from the hotel itself. There is an old palace museum on the grounds which was interesting although very run-down.

Breakfasts were ok but had a couple of problems. Our first day there we slept in and got down to breakfast a half hour before it finished but found the staff already putting everything away. We asked what could we get and the list was very short indeed and so we had a couple pieces of toast. Another morning I asked for Tea and my wife for warm chocolate. The waiter suggested I try warm chocolate as well, I told him no thanks, I come from Switzerland and I have had warm chocolate before… just the Tea. He replied that I must try it and went off. As soon as he left I asked another waiter for some Tea. It was promptly brought and soon after that the first waiter arrived with two chocolates and walked off with my half finished Tea, despite my protests once again.

We tried to do some of the activities around the pool but found the attendant there a little unnerving not mention annoying as every time we tried to play something, he would stand a few feet away and try to teach us how to play it properly. Even after we pointed out we were just playing for fun.

One final complaint about the hotel. Before ever stepping foot in the hotel, we had shortened our reservation at the hotel by one night from the original booking which was pre-paid via credit card. The refund for the cancelled night took us a month and a half and around 2 dozen phone calls to finally get.

Overall, a frustrating experience that I don’t wish to have again.

Top Local Tips for Varanasi

Photographing the ghats Most likely you will go at sunrise to see the pilgrims bathing in the Ganges and also at dusk to see the 'Aarti' ceremony. Be prepared for poor light especially in the morning where there may be mist, and crank up the ISO! The use of flash near the cremations would be highly inappropriate and probably would get poor results anyway. The ceremonial show in the evening is relatively well lit and I had few problems. If at all possible walk through the side streets coming away from the ghats and be prepared to use up your camera's memory on the sights you will see. While photographing on the move, be careful where you step. Freshly deposited cow dung on sloping stone paths is very slippery...

Stay by the water Unless you really are sick of the action in India, stay where everything is happening - near the Ganges.

Silk Be sure the so-called hand made Varanasi silk is not "Made in China"!

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