As the name makes it amply evident, Novotel Hyderabad Airport is an airport hotel. However, you’d be grossly underestimating this Accor property, if you considered it to be just a transit hotel.
The sprawling hotel in Shamshabad is a five minutes’ drive away from the Hyderabad International Airport (RGIA). While it’s over 30 km away from the city, the excellent expressways go a long way towards bridging that gap. Take the Outer Ring Road to reach Hyderabad’s bustling cyber city (Gachibowli and Financial District) or travel on the PV Narasimha Rao Expressway to reach Mehdipatnam. Travel time on both these routes is seldom above half an hour. In fact, if you’re planning to head to tourist hotspots such as Charminar and Golkonda, you might reach faster from Novotel Hyderabad Airport than from more central locations such as Jubilee Hills and Banjara Hills.
The ever-expanding footprints of urbanisation is yet to reach Shamshabad. In spite of its proximity to the airport, the property feels in the middle of no-where. And I mean that as a positive. The impressive six-storey building is enveloped by lush green lawns and rows of palm trees. While this aint a resort, it is spread over a pretty large tract of land and is blessed with idyllic location and scenic views.
A couple of weeks back, I was invited to spend the weekend at Novotel Hyderabad Airport. Checking in was as zippy as the drive on ORR. Novotel Airport offers online check-in, up to 48 hours ahead of your arrival. If you take advantage of this facility, your keys will be ready for pick-up the moment you arrive. The spacious lobby has an understated elegance and charm about it. For those with a flight to catch, there’s a board with live flight status information. Novotel also offers Airport shuttles.
The property boasts of 289 rooms that include Superior, Premier Executive, Deluxe Suite, and Executive Suite. The rooms are either Pool facing or outward-looking. I got the latter. Typically, the pool facing rooms are in higher demand, but at this property, I prefer the latter. My room offered a gorgeous panoramic view. You get an unhindered view of lush green foliage interspersed with undulating patches of the grand, ancient rocks of the Deccan. I spent a good chunk of my staycation doing what I seldom do. Just sitting in front of the window and peering out. Recent rains had rejuvenated the landscape, and the dark monsoon clouds lent the vista a dreamy, romantic charm. A word of caution, though, Novotel is constructing a new convention centre that does stick out as a sore spot; request a room that’s not adjacent to this warehouse-like structure.
The room is pretty much what you’d expect from this category. Spacious, smartly designed, and comfortable. My room included a queen size bed, single-seater sofa, a work area. Besides the usual mini-bar and tools for making your tea or coffee, the room also had a reasonably large closet including an iron and ironing board. This hotel is a part of the Accor group’s Planet 21 initiative to foster sustainable, environment-friendly practices. The soap, shower gel, and shampoo available in the bathroom are eco-certified. Additional room-amenities and customisations such as ‘hard-bed’ are available on request.
Novotel Airport has three primary FnB outlets – The Square, Haldi, and The Bar. I’ve already reviewed Haldi, their Indian specialty restaurant. Check out that article for more on what to expect there. The Bar, which is situated in the lobby, offers an exciting mix of classic and signature cocktails beside a reasonably extensive selection of wine and other spirits. The best part is that it’s open for business all day. There’s also a Premium Lounge that’s exclusively reserved for guests staying in premier rooms and suites.
During this stay, I spent most of the time at The Square, which is the all-day coffee shop and buffet restaurant. Novotel hotels across the country are rebranding The Square as Food Exchange. The one at Hyderabad Airport is also slated to undergo a refurb and rebranding towards the end of 2019.
The Square sets up an elaborate buffet spread for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The center-piece of all three cuisines is Indian cuisine, including an excellent showcase of local flavours.
The breakfast spread includes assorted baked goodies like Croissants and Danish, classic European and American fare such as Baked Beans in Tomato, Bacon, and Pancakes. Live stations dish out dosa, paratha, poached eggs, and omelettes. All of this is besides South Indian staples such as Vada, Upma, and Idli, cereals, and assorted milkshakes and juices.
The lunch buffet offers a choice of Biryanis and Indian curries besides a few continental and Asian options. There are usually four appetisers, evenly split across vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. Novotel grows many of the herbs and vegetables in its own herb garden on the property. The salad station is quite good, but the cheese and cold-cuts on offer are pretty limited. The dinner buffet retains a similar format to the lunch; in fact, many of the dishes are repeated. However, the spread is augmented with the addition of live grills and BBQ. While the range at Novotel might not be the biggest in the city, it’s still quite impressive. And, more importantly, the kitchen is competent and consistent; throughout my stay, I found little reason to complain about the food.
I began this piece by stating that even though Novotel Hyderabad Airport is technically a transit hotel, it does a lot more than that. Build over six acres of area; the property is perfect for a weekend getaway. It’s removed from the hustle and bustle of the city, yet only a relatively quick and pain-free drive away. Amenities include a sporting arena with sandpit volleyball court, basketball court, and a tennis court. There’s, of course, a swimming pool. Both the fitness centre (gym) and spa are open around the clock. Other facilities include multiple meeting and conference venues as well as banquet halls and a large open-air events space that can accommodate up to 2000 guests.
The serene locale and the relaxed vibe makes Novotel Hyderabad Airport a pleasant destination all through the year. But I was lucky that my stay at Novotel coincided with the onset of monsoon in Hyderabad. The gentle drizzle and cloudy skies made the property quite magical.
FAM trips can be hectic, but this was not. Our host, Harshvardhan Dengwekar, the ever-gracious Marketing Manager at Novotel Hyderabad Airport, wanted us to experience Novotel how one should at a staycation. Unhurried. Without any agenda. I spent most of my time either sitting by the window in the room or hanging out at The Square with friends. From a cute welcome note to timely room service, the staff at Novotel ensured all of us had a good time.
Novotel Hyderabad Airport is perfect for tourists who want to stay away from the noise of the city. But it’s also an excellent option for a quick getaway for Hyderabadis. Most of the resorts in Hyderabad are shabbily maintained with below-par food and beverage options. With tidy rooms, multiple dining options, a sporting complex, and a large swimming pool, Novotel ticks all the right boxes. Besides regular stays, Novotel has several packages, including daycation and weekend staycation.