Left to book a hotel for ourselves (if we’d only been visiting Hyderabad as tourists), my husband and I would probably have chosen a heritage hotel, or something possibly closer to the tourist attractions of Hyderabad. However, since this was a part-work, part-sightseeing trip (my husband was in Hyderabad for three days of conferences, and I was to join him on the third day), we decided to stay on in the hotel where he’d be staying for the duration of the business trip.
This was the Lemon Tree Premier, a hotel my husband’s frequently stayed in over the past couple of years. He comes to Hyderabad at least a couple of times a year on business, and has discovered that of the more budget-friendly hotels, this one’s easily the best.
The Lemon Tree Premier is a tall, blocky white building about a half-hour’s drive from the airport (given that I arrived in the afternoon, when the roads were fairly clear of traffic). My husband—who was, of course, away attending meetings—had left instructions about my arrival, so a young lady came to the reception counter to greet me and take me upstairs to my husband’s room. Very personalised and friendly service, which I appreciated (and which I found echoed in other aspects of the hotel, including room service).
Since we’d specifically requested for a non-smoking room, we’d been given a room on the 8th floor, which is a non-smoking floor. The room, while not the play-football-in-it type I’ve encountered in more plush five star hotels, had all the accoutrements you’d need: wardrobe, safe, flat screen TV, desk and ergonomic swivel chair, tea and coffee fixings, paid minibar (including biscuits, peanuts, aerated drinks and juices), complimentary mineral water, and an ironing board with a steam iron. WiFi is available in rooms, but free access to it depends on the tariff plan you’ve chosen. Irrespective of that, however, 30 minutes of free WiFi is offered to all guests per day of stay. Our tariff plan included unlimited free WiFi—very convenient, and with good speed too.
The Lemon Tree Premier seems specifically tailored to be a business hotel; it offers a business centre (with complimentary Internet access, 24×7), conference rooms and banquet halls, a spa and salon, fitness centre, and a rooftop swimming pool. The dining options include Citrus (a multi cuisine coffee shop), Slounge (the bar), Republic of Noodles (a pan-Asian restaurant), Kebab Theater (a specialty Indian restaurant, offering all the usual suspects, plus some interesting local dishes from Hyderabad and Andhra Pradesh), the Tea Lounge (as expected, offering a variety of teas and coffees, including fancy ones like Ethiopian Sidamo and Kenyan AA Masai, which we tried and liked a lot), and room service.
Room service was something I tried almost as soon as I entered: I’d missed lunch because of an awkwardly-timed flight, but wasn’t hungry enough to have a full-fledged meal. The room service menu—which offers a selection of Indian, continental, and Oriental dishes—fortunately had a range of salads, sandwiches, soups and other not-too-large meals listed. I chose a vegetable and tofu clear soup with fried wontons, along with a fresh lime soda.
These arrived within about 20 minutes of being ordered: the drink cool and fresh, the soup a little less than hot, but full of good crisp veggies and delicately cubed tofu in a beautifully flavourful broth. And—best of all—the two large fried wontons (filled with a light stuffing of chopped vegetables) weren’t in the soup, but on a separate plate alongside, so they’d remain crisp until I dunked them in. Full marks for that.
Close to full marks to Lemon Tree Premier, actually, for lots more too. Okay, the décor in our room wasn’t exactly fantastic (I’m not a fan of very brightly coloured abstract art, so the vividly upholstered satin-finish cushions and the large paintings didn’t float my boat). And I didn’t much care for the (admittedly not very intrusive) tan-and-black tiles on the headboard of our bed and in the bathroom. My eagle eye also caught tiny traces of chipped wood polish on the bathroom door, and signs that the tray in the bathroom—with neatly wrapped soap, comb, toothbrush and toothpaste, and shower cap—hadn’t been dusted. But the linen was clean and fresh, the room and bathroom generally clean and comfortable.
There are minuses, of course. For instance, the view isn’t great. And there’s the noise of traffic from the nearby intersection. Not appallingly loud, but if you’re used to absolute quiet, then definitely intrusive.
Still. For Rs 4,700 per night (inclusive of a daily American breakfast—an impressive spread of everything from South Indian specialties like idli and sambhar, all the way to bacon and eggs, to Danish pastries and muffins and fruit), this isn’t bad at all. In fact, I can pretty much understand why my husband likes to stay here on every trip to Hyderabad.
Lemon Tree Premier
Plot No. 2, Survey No. 64