The hotel comes as a pleasant surprise with its facilities and F&B offerings
Words, photographs and videos: Ambica Gulati
When you land in a city after 25 years, the only words which reverberate in your heart are ‘the only truth is change’. So the Ludhiana I had seen in the 1980s has changed from a quiet aloof town to a vibrant smart city. The lazy Ferozepur Road is now a buzzing traffic area and the city has spread far beyond the traditional old town. And it’s this hub which has attracted hotels. Among the more plush ones here, Radisson Blu MBD is adjacent to the MBD Neopolis mall. In fact, I was told that this is the mall which houses most of the high end brands. The hotel guests have access to the mall from within the hotel. This even has the Mexican big screen exhibitor, Cinepolis and all the Punjabi movies can be seen here. Which does not mean that you are going to miss out on Bollywood or Hollywood.
The staycation at Radisson had begun on a strong positive note. The cab which came to pick up in Delhi had a wi-fi facility and the driver took permission before switching on the FM. The consideration was touching. So, it was journey with lots of food in the Swarn Shatabdi and by the time we reached Ludhiana, it was raining. The young one who had come to pick us up, led us to the car under a large umbrella, offering us a newspaper in the car! Well, the happiness note of Punjab had already crept in and the weekend was only better.
Welcomed with marigold garlands and a drink, the room was a lavish one. It had its own bath tub in the bedroom, right next to the bed and a window which offered a magnificent view of the city. The interesting bits: the speakers of the TV were even in the bathroom, so you neither miss out on the news nor the movie. And one has a wide range of choice for pillows to make your sleep as blissful as possible. The mini-bar comes stocked with beers and little bottles of whisky.
But then whisky is ‘the’ drink in Punjab. In fact, the bar PEG has a locker. You could buy your bottle, drink as much as possible and leave the rest in your own locker till the next visit.
Well, nothing in Ludhiana can surpass the butter chicken and dal makhani with butter naan, but at MADE IN INDIA you find more than these. This restaurant has some forgotten recipes on the menu. And the dal batti churma is to die for. Added to this is the royal buffet. This thali is replete with dishes which make you feel like gorging and simply gorging. And this feast ends with delicious sweets such as kulfi, gulab jamun and more.
What did come as a surprise was RED, rare eastern dining with its crabs, ducks and different sauces. The palate of the city is an evolved one and there are regular patrons for the exotic dishes that you find in the restaurant here. And Executive Chef Pawan Pal sat with us through all the meals. It is customary for the Chefs to spend time with the guests and they go out of their way to bring everything around to suit the palate of all who come to eat in. What does surprise you is that the hotel is more alive at dinner time, as people like to eat out late here.
The breakfast next day was at Café Delish, where the Sunday brunch is also held. This is a lavish spread with all the delights that you can think of, right from bacon to dosas and uthapams.The variety goes from Chinese to Continental, Italian and Indian. And there is live music too if you are around for the brunch. Or at dinner. What I enjoyed were the live counters—hot and fresh is the mantra here.
The hotel is also equipped with all the relaxation you need—go for a massage at Espace the spa, or run it out on the treadmill in the gym. And then there’s the salon for all the beauty needs.
Manas, the man who handles the marketing and communications, says the hotel is popular with the business community for meetings as well as social events such as weddings. It is also the preferred place to dine out with the ‘Who’s Who’ of Ludhiana. It is visited by the Bectors of Cremica fame, Munjals of Hero group, Oswals to name a few. And the shopping mall adjacent makes it a complete destination in itself.
While some might not find a lot to see in Ludhiana, I prescribe a walk by the canal in the evening. Or through the Punjab Agriculture University campus. All these are close by and the hotel helps with the transport as well.
Why I would stay at Radisson Blu MBD Ludhiana again: there’s excellent service, well maintained rooms, spa, all the international F&B offerings, a movie hall and shopping centre. Besides, the hotel also arranges for special needs and pick and drops to the station.