As my drive along the Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR) comes to a lazy halt, I begrudgingly take
As my drive along the Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR) comes to a lazy halt, I begrudgingly takemy eyes off the sea and take in my first glimpse of the eight-storey Citadines OMR Chennai. The plaque at the entrance describes it as an Apart’Hotel. This dichotomy only gets amplified as I claim my studio executive room and lingers on throughout my day-long stay.
Personally, I’ve never had the use for a serviced apartment in India. I’ve never stayed at a destination for that awkward amount of time that rules out the cost (and transitory aura) of a hotel and the permanence of a house lease. But it’s not difficult to imagine the market gap that Citadines seeks to fill. Surrounded by IT parks, office complexes, banks et al., the apart’hotel caters to extended-stay needs of visitors to the city. The two sectors that bring the most customers are IT and medical tourism. With Global Hospitals (5 min.), Apollo Speciality Hospital, Perungudi (20 min.) and Chettinad Health City (20 min.) at a stone’s throw, many a patient chooses to stay here with family. The waiting period for an organ transplant can stretch up to six months, I’m told, and looking for a home in the city for that short (and uncertain) a period isn’t quite feasible. Combine Citadines’ affordable rates for long stays with its hospitality and services, and you have a soothing solution.
The design of the property borrows from the global guidelines of Ascott Ltd, which owns the Citadines brand and manages over 1,300 apartment units in eight properties across six Indian cities. But the aesthetic here does include some local influences. Animals, birds, butterflies and dragonflies abound in common areas like the residents’ lounge, while dotted renditions of paisley-leaf motifs adorn the walls inside the apartments. “The idea is to create a garden in the midst of urban chaos,” says Manessa Raghavan, marketing manager, Ascott. For what it’s worth, the oasis aesthetic is a necessity not just an embellishment. The view from my fifth-storey balcony features ravens scavenging at an adjoining construction site and a hint of a lake.
The design takes a slightly inventive twist at Hola, the property’s restaurant that serves Spanish and Mexican cuisine.
The theme is adhered to—posters of old Mexican movies dot the walls and the lampshades are hat-shaped—but nobody pronounces the Spanish title correctly, the emphatically pronounced ‘h’ weighing the greeting down. The menu is efficient but nothing to gloat about. Both the restaurants here, Hola and Delhi Highway (Indian food with a focus on Awadhi cuisine), are managed by the Delhi Highway Group. While the food is decent, their in-room service could use a boost.
Since the 269 apartments are geared towards long stays, they are designed to suit couples and families. The balconies have tall railings for children, there’s a fully-equipped kitchen (kitchenette in studio rooms), and Citadines has tied up with Nilgiris, a grocery store chain, for home delivery of everyday needs. There are also city walks and workshops on offer, in collaboration with Storytrails, to keep the non-working residents occupied. Shuttles leave at fixed times in the afternoon for Velachery, a suburb of Chennai that has emerged as a shopping, dining and recreation hub.
The premium range of apartments at Citadines also includes separate living and dining areas, and an in-room washing machine with dryer. My studio room, however, is modest and designed for the young executive solo traveller. Perhaps if I had stuck with my former career—that of an IT professional—I would’ve found myself in one of these on a long project in the city. Since I have no project managers to report to or code bugs to resolve, I head to the rooftop swimming pool. The pool shares the eighth floor (and its attendant) with a basic gymnasium; steam and sauna rooms are built into the changing rooms. I while away some time in the adjoining jacuzzi until the kids are done with their splashes and I have the pool to myself. I finish the day with a few timed laps in the pool as the city underneath crawls to a halt and its tungsten lights give in to the night. It’s time to head back to my room, er… apartment.
Location No. 290 Rajiv Gandhi Salai (OMR) IT Expressway, Sholinganallur, Chennai; 19 km/30 min from the international airport
Accommodation 172 studio deluxe rooms, 53 studio executive rooms, 43 studio premier rooms, 52 one-bedroom executive rooms, 35 one-bedroom premier rooms, 9 two-bedroom executive rooms, 5 two-bedroom premier rooms
Tariff From ₹4,500 singles, taxes extra
Contact +91-44-71117111, citadines.com