Westin Hyderabad Mindspace’s location — at the heart of Hitec City, the city’s IT hub — is telling. Although it includes Hyderabad in its name, it actually means to say Cyberabad — where, as you crawl into its precincts, you shuffle off Hyderabad, its chaotic traffic and indeed, its character, and move into swank roads manned by private security, landscaped traffic circles and encounter everywhere busy professionals with laptops slung across their shoulders. So here, standing amidst several equally tall buildings devoted to making the world a more virtual space, is the Westin — designed to be on hand to serve the high fliers of this world. The Westin brand of Starwood Hotels is making its presence felt in India. After setting up in Pune, Hyderabad and Mumbai, the chain will throw open its Gurgaon property soon. Also in the pipeline are hotels in Kolkata and Jaipur.
The Westin Hyderabad Mindspace, the largest of the Westin India hotels with 428 rooms, has an exterior painted a dull ochre, and doesn’t look particularly prepossessing from the approach. The minute you step in, however, the outlook changes. The lobby is a vast, impressive space. Seating takes the form of striking turquoise sofas, white upholstered chairs and plump cushions. ‘Westin Hostesses’ — young women smartly attired in high-collared turquoise silk kurtas over severe black pants — greet you, direct you and smile warmly enough to make you think the world a truly nice place.
To the left of the entrance are two eating places — Daily Treats, the deli with aromas of freshly baked bread and coffee, and the versatile Seasonal Tastes, with its array of global cuisines. The lobby’s plan is open and spaces merge with one another with barely a check.
It is after you have taken in everything at eye level that you tend to look up — and gasp slightly. The hotel’s lobby extends all the way to the building’s roof — 15 storeys high. As the eye moves along the sides, the parapets along each floor form bands in a pleasing pattern. At the very top, abundant use of skylights lets you glimpse white cloud-puffs against a brilliant sky.
The rooms are pleasant: they meet the usual high standards in offering all mod-cons but no more. The furniture and fittings are modern in their use of glass and metal, spare and unfussy. The trademark Westin Heavenly Bed (“be enveloped by layers of down, 250-count sheets, five plush pillows and our exclusive pillow-top mattress”) occupies centrestage — it is indeed a very languorous experience. Yet…it must be a regrettable tendency to carp, for after the first hour, I found myself sympathising with Goldilocks for her dissatisfaction over Mother Bear’s sleeping arrangements — too soft.
I was to experience the Heavenly Spa next. The spa rooms were not yet ready but the service was, and since the hotel offers in-room massages anyway, I had the mountain come to me. Rini (from Kalimpong) deftly wheeled in a foldable bed and a large picnic basket with paraphernalia. I stepped out of the way for a minute: the massage table was set up efficiently and I was persuaded to disrobe and lay me down. I opted for their Signature massage, a combination of the traditional Swedish movements with a more robust deep-tissue technique. Rini’s hands were warm, slicked with unguents and the fragrance of bitter oranges; she seemed to know with unerring precision the kinks that afflicted my neck and back…and I sank into grateful lassitude.
Mindspace has three restaurants: Kangan, which specialises in North-West Frontier Province cuisine; Prego, their Italian speciality dining; and Seasonal Tastes, which offers a comprehensive range of cuisines. Local touches and customisations are not very many but Kangan manages an interesting one. In all Westins, Kangan’s décor includes a conceit: arrays of bangles adorn the walls to reinforce the name. In Hyderabad, a lac bangle maker from the Old City sits in attendance in the evenings, noting ladies’ attires and conjuring up, in a matter of minutes, lac bangles to go. The craft is typically Hyderabadi and it was a pleasure to watch him coax a bracelet out of that humble material.
Kangan’s excellent food is served with a selection of piquant sauces and relishes. I rather fell in love with one that brought together jaggery and chilly with a twist of tang. In his menu, the chef comes up with a memorable pulusu that includes gongura (a leafy green that Andhra finds it impossible to finish a meal without) but I was disappointed with khubani shahi tukda — an innovation combining the famous apricot stew and the bread-based sweetmeat that are Hyderabadi favourites. Lunch at Prego, though, was an unadulterated delight. A platter of thin-crust garlic bread and a basket of ciabatta set the tone; olives, mozzarella with tomato, artichokes, buttered mushroom, spinach ravioli, penne with herbed tomato and finally, a delectable mud pie to smooth all that down.
I found Seasonal Tastes impressive for its variety and its superb quality. I had breakfast there as well as dinner. Westin’s emphasis on wellness has led them to create a special menu they call Superfoods — nutrient-rich ingredients that can be put together in any combination you please. With cheeses, breads, live counters, offerings from various culinary hotspots and a fine spread of hot and cold desserts, their dinner buffet is quite reasonable.
So, final word: essentially a business hotel, yes, but a good one.
Location Raheja IT Park, Hitec City, Madhapur, Hyderabad
Accommodation Rooms: 276 Deluxe, 21 Deluxe Terrace, 3 Deluxe Accessible, 19 Executive Terrace. Suites: 36 Executive
Contact 040-67676767, www.westin.com/hyderabadmindspace