Tamil Nadu, India

Palais de Mahe

Rates from (ex tax)$151.13

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 21 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (INR10,670.00), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

Style

Pondicherry on top

Setting

Fabled French Quarter

Gallic charms are in abundance at Palais de Mahé in Pondicherry, a heritage hotel with whitewashed pillars, wooden floors, a courtyard pool and a shady veranda. The Bay of Bengal is visible from the roof, where creative Indian-European cuisine is served by candlelight at dusk. The entrance showcases local art, and the French Quarter setting – with all its bougainvillea and boulevards – offers relief from the town’s more crowded Tamil Quarter.

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Facilities

Photos Palais de Mahe facilities

Need to know

Rooms

18.

Check–Out

11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm, also flexible.

Rates

Double rooms from $151.13 (INR9,789), excluding tax at 9 per cent.

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 21 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (INR10,670.00), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

More details

Rates include breakfast.

Also

Don’t rush through the entrance hall – it regularly plays host to exciting art exhibitions that are worth a wander around.

At the hotel

Reading lounge, terrace, pool deck and free WiFi throughout. In rooms: a flatscreen TV, minibar, free bottled water, local bath products, air-conditioning and tea- and coffee-making facilities.

Our favourite rooms

Each room within this heritage building – set along the colonnade, with a sitting area overlooking the pool – has its own character, but soaring ceilings, arched doorways and electric punkahs are a given. Rich, red-ochre floors contrast with the clean, whitewashed walls. For a stately stay, book one of the rooms that has a four-poster bed.

Poolside

There’s an unheated, adults-only pool out in the central courtyard, with sunloungers arranged to admire the hotel’s yolk-yellow walls and white arches.

Spa

The spa is more of an Ayurveda Centre, with resident doctors available for consultations and medical advice, as well as the usual massage and facial menu.

Packing tips

Bring clothing made from loose, meditation-friendly linen; and an extra (empty) suitcase to fill with Pondicherry-procured treasure (some appliqué or pottery from one of the nearby communes).

Also

The communal areas are accessible for wheelchair users and there are adapted rooms on the first floor that can be reached by a lift.

Children

All ages are welcome, but the hotel is more suited to couples. Baby cots (free for under-6s) and extra beds are available (between INR2,000 and INR6,700 a night depending on the season and your board basis).

Eco‐friendly

The hotel uses regional materials where possible, including for the crockery, bedlinen and uniforms. Energy-efficient lightbulbs are used and food is locally sourced and organic.

Food and Drink

Photos Palais de Mahe food and drink

Top Table

Up on the candlelit roof, as close to the edge as is safe, for the best views of the sea and the prime position to be cooled by the accompanying breeze.

Dress Code

Bright-white cottons and pure silks to assist with keeping cool in the heady city heat.

Hotel restaurant

Les Alice mixes Indian flavours with European influences, serving dishes such as mutton curry, grilled prawns, stews and marinated fish alongside traditional tandoor grills. Sugar fans should save room for pudding, when drunken-orange brownies and peanut burfi (a dense, milk-based dessert, named after the Persian word for ‘snow’) are on offer. Breakfast is a selection of fruits, eggs to order and daily-changing pancake, waffle and toast options. Guests will also be able to enjoy an authentic South Indian morning meal.

Hotel bar

The small, contemporary bar has modern furniture, pale walls and an interesting lighting scheme. It’s open all day for creative cocktails – and a selection of refreshing mocktails.

Last orders

Breakfast is served between 7.30am and 10.15am. Lunch is available from 12.30pm to 2.45pm and dinner is between 7pm and 10.30pm. The Mahé Bar serves drinks from 11am until 11pm.

Location

Photos Palais de Mahe location
Address
Palais de Mahe
No.4, Rue Bussy Street, Lal Bahadur Shasthri Road,
Pondicherry
605001
Pondicherry
India

Planes

There is a domestic airport in Pondicherry, but its routes aren’t very reliable (the most recent, to and from Bangalore, was cancelled in 2015). Chennai’s international airport (http://chennaiairport.com) is closest, three hours by car from the hotel; British Airways fly directfrom London Heathrow (www.ba.com). Transfers can be arranged for INR4,800 each way but must be booked at least a day in advance.

Automobiles

Most guests travel around India with a private driver, but if you do arrive by car, there’s free parking at the hotel – it’s a 10-minute journey from the centre of Pondicherry.

Worth getting out of bed for

At the hotel, top up your art collection with a browse through the entrance hall/exhibition space, perform a series of sun salutations, borrow a bike or book an ayurvedic massage. Further afield, clear your mind by hopping in a rickshaw and heading to Auroville for some silent contemplation at the Matrimandir viewpoint; or pack your bucket and spade and make for Paradise Beach. For life-enhancing yoga and meditation tips, visit the community living within the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in the French Quarter.

Local restaurants

For a shining example of coastal Tamil cooking, visit the hotel’s sister restaurant Maison Perumal on Perumal Koil Street, where traditional dishes such as curried chicken with crispy balls of batter, and fish with fried curry leaves are served in an informal room that doubles up as a gallery space. It also has excellent options for vegetarians. Pull up an alfresco seat in Satsanga’s courtyard garden on La Bourdonnais Street for some fine French-influenced food.

Local cafés

Join the queues of people on a quest for the best croissants and baguettes this side of Paris at the Baker Street bakery, on the same street as the hotel.

Reviews

Photos Palais de Mahe reviews

Anonymous review

Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this boutique hotel in India and unpacked their painted ceramic bowls and silk scarves, a full account of their city break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Palais de Mahé in Pondicherry

Pâté, pâtisserie and Pondicherry: things given to us by the French. This South Indian city was governed by Gallic rule until 1954 and, today, it’s as stylish than ever, with bougainvillea-covered boulevards, mustard-coloured colonial mansions and a Bay of Bengal-facing promenade. The star of this Union Territory town is Palais de Mahé, a heritage hotel in the quiet French Quarter, perfectly placed for ticking off the major sights. For spiritual enlightenment and an insight into an alternative way of life, the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, a commune set up in 1926, is a short walk away. For those content with their current situation, pitch up by the Palais’ courtyard pool, admiring the surrounding sunshine-yellow walls, crenellated roof and palm trees. Up on the terrace, Les Alice offers both inventive Indian food (by way of France, of course) and a welcome ocean breeze. On the same street as the hotel, the Baker Street bakery sells all the croissants and baguettes fit for even the most discerning Francophile. Pondicherry is a tiny Paris-on-Sea – bon voyage.

The Guestbook

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