This bustling hotel by the sea has a location to die for: on Visakhapatnam’s legendary RK Beach—but not quite. It is, in fact, at the quieter end of the stretch, which it has named Varun Beach after the Varun Group which owns the property. Novotel Visakhapatnam Varun Beach—to give it its proper name—is a splendid hotel by all counts, and each one of its 225 rooms is sea facing.
The décor, which is chic and international, has an unmistakable naval theme. Needless to say, there are ample meeting and banquet spaces as well. Fitness freaks would probably like to make good use of the rooftop jogging track, although there’s little to match the pleasures of a run on the beach.
The rooms, which measure a minimum of 29 square metres, come equipped with Wi-Fi, a 43” LED TV, minibar, complimentary tea/coffee maker, water bottles, access to gym, free yoga sessions, ample space and an ergonomic work area. They feature a contemporary design. The highlight has to be the floor-to-ceiling windows, which offer untrammelled views of the Bay of Bengal. There’s a large business desk at hand, but you’ll have a hard time working with that view.
The buffets at Square, the Novotel signature all-day diner, are lavish and spectacular by all counts and always feature a section with local Andhra delicacies. Just the range of podis (all made in-house, by the way) is stunning. No wonder it’s rated among the Top 5 restaurants of Visakhapatnam.
The F&B venues include Infinity, a rooftop bar and restaurant with a spectacular view of the Bay of Bengal which can also be reserved for private gatherings. It’s the ideal place to unwind while sipping your favourite drink along with exotic kebabs, grills and sizzlers. Zaffran, the speciality Indian cuisine restaurant, has exotic vegetarian and non-vegetarian thalis for lunch as well as succulent kebabs and biryani by the poolside. The hotel’s stylish bar is quite aptly named Harbour Vue. Also, located at the lobby level, is Sugar, which offers a wide range of fresh bakes, tea, coffee, desserts and homemade gourmet chocolates.
What to See & Do
Visakhapatnam, if you did not know it already, is a scenic city, sandwiched between the sea and mountains, with miles of serene beaches laid along its edge like a pearl necklace. If you’re staying at Novotel Visakhapatnam, all the main attractions are nearby. These include the legendary INS Kursura Submarine Museum and the TU 142 Aircraft Museum. The Matsya Darshini aquarium, however, is best given a miss. The Vizag Fishing Harbour—with tonnes of fish drying in the sun, and thousands of fishing boats jostling for space—is a sight to behold. The smell, however, is something else, so a face mask will come in handy.
A short drive out of town is the Bheemli Resort, also managed by Accor, which makes for a tranquil getaway, preferably with some Ayurvedic therapies and yoga thrown in. The food is even better here and there’s even a Japanese teppanyaki restaurant. At the edge of town, in Simhachalam, is the venerable Sri Varahalakshmi Narasimha Swamy Vari Devasthanam, a hilltop temple from deep antiquity. This region was once a major hub of Buddhism and the remains of many monastic centres can still be seen around town. Or you could head to the scenic Araku Valley and commune with nature.