When you choose any hotel in Puri (and Sea is your major attraction), follow this below checklist
a) Location and Type of Room
b) Check Out time
c) Restaurant facility/Room Service
e) Power Back-Up
f) Other Services (e.g., travel desk, free pick-up and drop from station/airport, Behavior of Hotel Staff)
Location and Type of Room
If Sea is your major attraction, stay in Swargadar or in new Marine Drive. There are ample hotels in these two places where just a road comes in-between the hotel and sea beach. You can get down from hotel, cross the road and you are in beach. (less than 1 min walk) These hotels you can term as “1st row hotel”.
Less costly would be hotels behind these 1st row hotels like second or 3rd row hotels (min 5 mins walk to beach).
However, if you can compromise your stay a bit far (10-20 mins walk to sea beach), then budget/cheaper hotels are there in Chakra Tirtha Road and elsewhere. Meaning these hotels are not in Swargadar or in New Marine Drive.
We stayed and checked few hotels in Swargadar and those are “1st row hotels” – so I just explain on these hotels.
In any such hotel, you get 3 kind of room -
a) Sea Facing (front view - most costly)
b) Side Sea facing (side view or a side balcony is present- check this properly because often the piece of sea which can be seen from these kind of room is negligible)
c) Back side room (these are cheaper – cannot observe sea from room - in summer, ventilation might be a problem - however, only advantage remains that still you get proximity to sea whenever you come out from the hotel)
All of the above 3 kinds of rooms are available in A/C and non-A/C flavor and cost varies accordingly.
Few hotels in this Swargadar stretch are: Puri Hotel, Victoria Club Hotel, Hotel Sea Gul, Pulin Puri Hotel, Sagarica Hotel, and our Sonali Hotel (few others are also there).
Few hotels in New Marine Drive (1st row hotels) are “Hotel Swimming”, “Hotel Oyesterbay”, “Sonar Kella”, “Sonar Bangla” etc.
Check Out time
All the Puri hotels maintain check out time, generally these are morning 7 or 8 AM (can vary for each hotel). It means, if you enter at 5 AM on a day, from 5AM to 7 AM – for this 2 hour, they will calculate 1 day tariff – amazing, isn’t it?
Do not focus on Check In time – it does not have any significance.
Alert: All Puri hotel reception gets closed in night, so if you reach Puri after 12 midnight (or even after 11 PM) – it would be tough to find a room if you do not have prior booking. So, the facility of “24 hrs check-in” – as promised in many of Puri hotel web sites are not true.
We reached Sonali hotel in night 1 O’Clock. We are originally from Kolkata but stay in Bangalore for work. From Bangalore, we availed “Prashanti Express” up to “Khurda Road station” and from there took “Paradeep – Puri Intercity” train. It reached Puri station around 12:30 midnight instead of scheduled 22:45. We had 1 room prior booking, but we needed another room. When we reached Sonali Hotel, since Reception was close, security (named Susanta) was in-charge there and he straight forward refused to give any extra room. After much tension and harassment of 15 to 20 mins (remember that we were tired with 40 hrs of train journey at that time), ultimately they (or the security?) gave a room on “temporarily basis” for that night. Second day morning, after reception is open and we talked to reception, we found plenty of rooms are available and we could extend our stay in that extra room what was provided last night. Seems it was just a management instruction not to allow any check-in by security without prior booking.
I strongly desire that none of you face such a welcome scenario in any hotel – so if you are reaching Puri between 6 AM to 10 PM, you can go there without prior booking and then search suitable room – but otherwise, it is always better to go with prior booking.
Another thing is with prior booking, you need to abide by the tariff card they provide – however if you search hotel after reaching Puri, then there is chance to negotiate below than the tariff card rate.
Restaurant facility/Room Service
When you choose the hotel, check restaurant facility within the hotel - this would save your time and effort. Two most reasonable restaurants in Swargadar we found are "RUCHIRA" (within Sonali hotel) and "BHAJAHARI MANNA" (within Pulin Puri Hotel) - a bit expensive restaurant is "SUGAR AND SPICE" (within Sea Gul hotel). People not staying within these hotels can also avail these restaurant facility. Few standalone (meaning not within any hotel) restaurants are "Kamat Restaurant" for south Indian pure veg food, "Bidesh Ghar", "Masir Hotel", "Dada Boudir Hotel" etc.
Lift and Power Back-up
While choosing hotel, check the power back up facility and Lift facility (if you have aged people in your group). Generally all these hotels claim that they have these facilities but at time of need, they might or might not work.
In fact we had a very bitter experience in Hotel Sonali. My mom, aged 67, needed to climb 3rd floor thrice everyday because the lift in Sonali (which is with manual door without lift man) hardly runs 3 to 4 hrs on an average in a 24-hrs of a day – the other time, either it is non-working or somebody hasn’t properly locked the door. Anyway, this would not be a problem for you in case your group does not have any aged person.
Regarding power back-up, things to check whether lift and AC will run or not during electricity cut – remember that in Puri, electricity cut is regular and frequent phenomenon.
Travel desk: You would really not require this as there are plenty of private (R.N.Mukherjee Travels, etc.) and Govt. tour (OTDC) operator in bus as well as private cab provider.
Free Pick-up and drop from station/airport: Many hotel website promises to provide this service – but it is not always true. We booked Sonali hotel using their website facility all most 1 month back, after wards there were never any communication from Hotel Sonali – the night when we reached Puri and called Hotel Sonali, they informed that Bus Service is temporarily stopped and arrange our own transportation – note that they never said Sorry for this - later we understood that most of the time in year they do not have this facility but still do not change their website but give this “false promise”.
Behavior of Hotel Staff: Not sure for everybody whether this is a parameter or not to judge a hotel, but for me, yes it is a factor. Hotel Sonali stuff behavior is worst among all the hotels I stayed till now across world. They treat customer as if they are doing pity to give rooms – we have seen this attitude throughout our stay there.
Link to observe location on Puri Hotels : http://wikimapia.org/#lat=19.7980557&lon=85.8351195&z=18&l=0&m=b
Unique Quality: Specific about Hotel Sonali
Hotel Sonali has a excellent location, superb interior decoration, very good restaurant within hotel (“Ruchira” downstairs and “Spicy Affair” at roof top+room service).
Hotel staff behavior is miserable, room service not round the clock, false promise (in their website) about free pick-up and drop from Railway station.
Room 201 is best – apart Room 311, 312, 313, 314, 315, 316 are excellent room – these are non-ac super deluxe sea facing, can observe sea from bed or balcony, tariff Rs 1050. Also the roof top restaurant is in same floor.
Other standard room tariff is Rs 650 – having side balcony (1st and 2nd floor), but stuffy and no good ventilation – remember you cannot keep any balcony side door open in night or when you are not in room, because there are monkeys which enters. Though hotel staff informed about the same on 1st day, even than, one day, my mom was sleeping in day time and when opened his eyes, saw a monkey eating our butter seating on top of table just beside bed.
Apart, on main road, hotel Sonali has small structure but it is extended at back side – the extension is behind “Lily Cottage” too which is a small 2 floor holiday home – that is why from 3rd floor of Sonali, see view is clear (but not from 1st or 2nd floor).
Auto fare from station to Sonali Hotel : Rs 70 – Rs 100
Auto fare from Sonali Hotel to Jagannath Temple: Rs 50 – Rs 80
For Marketing clothes and handloom, go to “Boyonika” – the oldest Orissa govt. handloom – fixed price and genuine quality – can trust easily – one branch is near Jagannath temple, another branch is in Swargadar – 5 mins walk from Hotel Sonali.
We visited Chilka and Konark (customized tour) in Sumo for our 5 member group – paid Rs 2000 for the A/C cab – 10 AM to 9 PM (less time so Konark was visited in evening 6 PM to 8 PM). People should start early morning if want to cover both Chilka and Konark in 1 day bcoz both are opposite direction from Puri. Both takes approx 1 hour from Puri.