The Raj would love The Glenburn Penthouse, a boutique hotel on the edge of Maidan park in Kolkata. This cosy, colonial-inspired city sanctuary may lie at the top of a new office block, but the 21st century is left firmly at the door. Step inside and you’re back in India’s past, and a land of ceiling fans, carved four-poster beds, verandas and and hand-drawn maps. The dining room is hazily handsome, with curved conservatory-style windows, colourful cushions scattered on patterned chairs, a palms-and-palaces mural and a sparkling chandelier. And just wait till you see the rooftop pool…
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A packet of tea from the hotel’s sister property Glenburn Tea Estate in Darjeeling
Noon. Earliest check-in, 2pm. Both are flexible, subject to availability.
Double rooms from £319.74 ($401), including tax at 18 per cent.
Rates usually include breakfast and afternoon tea.
At the hotel
Gym, car park, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: TV, free bottled water, tea and coffee kit, air-conditioning and bespoke Forest Essentials bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Each room has elegant colonial-inspired accents: arched doorways, wall-panelling, carved antique four-poster beds and crystal chandeliers. For a veranda with views of the Victoria Memorial, go for the Maidan Suite (Room 2). The Victoria Suite (Room 1) also looks out across the famous marble monolith.
The rooftop infinity pool is open between 6am and 6pm, with a drinks service available. It’s got fuchsia sunloungers, wrought-iron railings and checkerboard tiles – plus, far-reaching views out over the Maidan and the Victoria Memorial.
The Penthouse has a treatment room with a therapist on speed-dial, who can be booked for things like Swedish massages and reflexology.
Leave the holiday reading at home: the world’s biggest secondhand-book store, papyrus haven and convergence of academia College Street is around the corner.
There is a lift to some parts of the hotel, but not all of the communal areas are accessible for wheelchair users and there aren't any specially adapted rooms.
This one’s for grown-up Smiths – the hotel only accepts children aged 12 and up.
The hotel sources its food from local growers and organic farmers, uses planet-friendly bath products and recycles where possible.
Go for a table on the tea terrace for peak Indomania (and hazy Kolkata views spanning the Victoria Memorial and Maidan). If it’s really hot, head up to the rooftop for added breeze.
Humidity-defying threads: billowy cotton will be your friend.
The dreamy dining room is a masterclass in colonial decor, with polished parquet floors, wicker-backed wooden chairs, arched windows and an elaborate chandelier, along with a pretty, palm-y mural. There are daily specials served at breakfast, set menus – of Bengali, British and street-food favourites – for lunch and dinner, and an all-day dining menu, too. Your room rate includes breakfast and daily afternoon tea, served on the terrace.
There’s no separate bar, but you won’t be going thirsty: you can order drinks on the terrace, by the rooftop pool and in the dining room.
Breakfast is between 7.30am and 10.30am. Afternoon tea is served on the terrace from 3.30pm to 6pm. Meals can be ordered all day, until 10.30pm.
The Glenburn Penthouse is in the West Bengal city of Kolkata, so close to the famous Victoria Memorial, you can spot it from some of the rooms.
Kolkata Airport (officially Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Airport) is closest – the drive should take around an hour. Hotel transfers cost US$50 each way. International arrivals will have to connect; stopover options include Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Hong Kong and Dubai.
Howrah Station is a 30-minute drive away from the hotel. Fun trainspotter facts: it’s one of the biggest rail terminuses in India and has 23 platforms. Services pull up here from other cities all across the subcontinent. The hotel can fetch you for US$50 a journey. The Maidan metro station is also nearby, a 10-minute walk away.
The hotel is in the centre of Kolkata. There’s free valet parking – drop your bags off and staff will take care of the rest.
Worth getting out of bed for
If it’s just a bit too hot to handle Kolkata’s outdoors, the hotel is here for you: at the breeze-frequented rooftop pool, temperature-regulating drinks can be delivered to your sunlounger; you can see the Victoria Memorial without having to leave the terrace; and the various colourfully upholstered sofas and chairs in the dining room are perfect spots for reading.The hotel is in the heart of Kolkata, opposite the Victoria Memorial and Maidan, the city’s biggest park. This may be one of the vastest cities in India, but lots of the main sights are within walking distance: catch a cricket game at the Maidan’s Eden Gardens, or check out erstwhile viceroy pad Raj Bhavan, now the governor’s residence. Staff will be happy to take you on guided tours of the city. Bibliophiles will love College Street around the corner from the Penthouse: this literary stretch is home to assorted academic institutions, various publishing houses, hundreds of bookstores and an enormous book market. For a (literal) breath of fresh air, head to the Botanic Gardens, which were founded all the way back in 1786; or marvel at the many domes of Belur Math, HQ for the Ramakrishna Mission.
Lots of buzzy bars and restaurants await on Park Street: the best kathi rolls can be found at Kusum Rolls; for spicy kebabs served on buttery rice, try Peter Cat; and for a Kolkata institution that's been serving up Seventies-steakhouse favourites (mixed grills, devilled crabs and fish Wellington) since 1956, it has to be Mocambo. Kwality, also on Park Street, is a good bet for classic Indian dishes like dahl and fish pakoras. For some of the best Bengali cuisine in town, head to 6 Ballygunge Palace, where there’s an all-day buffet as you enter and à la carte service upstairs. If you’re up late and hungry, try the delicious dishes feeding vegetarian night owls at Balwant Singh’s Eating House.
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 West Bengal and unpacked their saris and spices, a full account of their city break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside the Glenburn Penthouse in Kolkata…
It may be at the top of a modern office block, but the Glenburn Penthouse takes you back in time. This boutique hotel in Kolkata is pure colonial era. There are just a handful of suites, some of which look out onto the marble Victoria Memorial (a view that would’ve cracked a smile from Queen Vic herself, we’re sure). You’ll also get glimpses of the Maidan, the city’s sprawling park, from the genteel terrace, where afternoon tea is served daily. Since the Penthouse’s sibling is fellow Smith stay the Glenburn Tea Estate in Darjeeling, you can be sure of a good brew. The elegant suites have carved wooden four-poster beds, wall-panelling, vintage maps, crystal chandeliers and (in some) verandas from which to take in the city (and drink some more tea). The dining room has arched windows, patterned chairs and parquet floors, as well as a mural of birds flitting between palms and palaces. And there’s a rooftop pool, with fuchsia sunloungers, checkerboard tiling and (most importantly) a drinks service. We’ll get the kettle on.