St Laurn Hotel, Koregaon, Pune

[singlepic id=1726 w=80 h=92 float=left]St Laurn is said to be one of the oldest and best business hotels in town. A place that has been a breeding ground for a number of good chefs in Pune, plus it gives better bargains than the ‘O’ Hotel nearby. A few reasons why I checked into the hotel, and later regretted. What was it like? Read on.
Like most hotels, this place too runs on the day’s best rates. Ground rule, even before you stay, bargain. In fact, if the rate looks too good to be true, as I found out, it is.
Check the rooms first, else you may just land a raw deal like I did. A room with the basics missing – no hand towels, no fruits, baskets cookies, pillows, water et al. Butt-check the bed to check if it’s right, else demand something more comfortable right at the start. Later, reminders fall on deaf ears. It’s always best to stick to the floors closer to the reception – essentially floor 1 to floor 3. They have the tidiest rooms with pleasant views. The seventh floor is a complete no-no unless the incessant buzzing of pumps is music to your ears. The hotel also has a complimentary 30 minute foot massage for every check-in, but you will probably not know about it till you venture into the recreational area of the hotel – the swimming pool. I suggest you visit the masseuse if a light handed, sticky rub is just what you need to kickstart your trip. After this, a spa venture is totally at your own risk. If fresh money isn’t involved be sure to expect one or all of these ruse – we haven’t received supplies, we only keep the fruits by noon and sorry the car broke down.
If in spite of your call and a reminder the requested items haven’t been sent in, don’t bother with another reminder. Chances are they won’t turn up, just like the towels and fruits in my room, but be replaced with three old Good Day biscuits in the name of specially baked cookies from the local bakery. And a special word – Sorry *Smile*.
A common occurrence in this hotel is the stink. But don’t point this out to the room service, as their nostrils are completely immune to any smell – good, bad or intolerable; it really doesn’t matter; your claim is denied.
Thankfully I have only eaten breakfasts at St Laurn; less than tolerable breakfasts. The only redeeming factor of the breakfast buffet, where the chicken tastes stale, eggs made fresh arrive cold (makes the YMCA Mess look like a restaurant), are the staff. Dishes are promptly replaced. No questions asked, except for repeating your order so the next portion is right. Sadly, the goodness of the service staff is marred by those in the kitchen. The same disaster lands on your table again, but hot this time around.  You may also be told that breakfast – your complimentary meal – cannot be served due to a kitchen breakdown. A breakdown that’s promptly fixed if you order in-room food-service.
Last not the least, double check your complimentary drop to the airport or station. The decisions here move slower than snails and there is a pretty good chance that you may have to hear sorry, but that’s not our policy Or, even better shortage of drivers, can you manage on your own?
So yes, St Laurn, Koregoan, Pune has the signature style of sophisticated interiors, convenient locations and excellent hospitality on the face of it – but nothing that I would return for.

Madhulika Dash

Madhulika is deeply interested in eating, sniffing, looking at and writing about food among other possible activities. Madhulika enjoys trying different types of food and travelling to distant locations, with the North Pole and Timbuktu prominent in her wish list. Madhulika covers Mumbai for Chef at Large and can be reached at madhulika.dash@www.chefatlarge.in