Novotel Vijayawada Varun: An ideal Staycation Location off Hyderabad

We were travelling to Vijayawada on some work towards the end of the week. We needed a little time to relax and I remembered that a few of my friends had recently visited Novotel Vijayawada Varun, and had a good experience there. My Accor Plus membership ensured a good weekend deal in the hotel, and on a Saturday afternoon, we arrived at the hotel after a nice time in the Tadepalli-Mangalgiri area. 

The hotel is located near Benz Circle Flyover, bang in the middle of the city. We had a quick check-in and were allotted a room on the fifth floor. I have some friends in the Accor Group, and a word from one of them ensured a tremendous welcome – a specially designed Welcome Hamper in our room when we occupied it. The Executive Chef Mr Suraj was personally present to deliver the hamper of dry fruits and goodies.

The room provided some excellent views of the hills and the surrounding localities. I was told that the rooftop had an even better view, and after some freshening up, we went up there. You can almost see the entire Vijayawada city from the tenth floor, which also houses the swimming pool, the Calm Spa and the Skydeck restobar. The hotel rooms are completely non-smoking, so if any guest wants to smoke, a smoking corner is available on this rooftop.

The hotel has four food and beverage outlets, - Food Exchange, the buffet place, Gourmet Bar in the lobby, SkyDeck the resto-bar on the rooftop and Wugan, the pan Asian place. As a food enthusiast, I wanted to try out all the four places. In the early evening, I went down to the Gourmet Bar at the lobby level to taste a special Hi-Tea session there. 

A mélange of savouries and sweets were presented for the Hi-Tea, Shrimp Cheese Quiche, Root veggies Feta Bruschetta, and Stuffed Cut Mirchi Bhajji were some of the highlights from the former. Vijayawada is known for its Punugulu and aptly, there was Punugulu with assorted chutneys. Among the sweet items, there were Strawberry Macarones, Clair Pistachio and Raisin Scones. The Gourmet Bar also has the best liquors available there, and the bar person there can make some kickass cocktails and mocktails.

The hotel has two types of rooms in terms of views – the city and hill views respectively. On the top two floors, they have single and double-bedroom apartments where long-duration guests usually stay.

We went back to the rooftop Skydeck in the evening. The outlet has two levels, sitting on the top level with a beer and snacks and enjoying the night view of the city was surreal.

Our dinner was at the buffet place Food Exchange, which is also located at the lobby level. The dinner had a good spread, the highlights for me being the Telugu starters and main courses. Miryala Chicken Fry, and a hot Andhra Mutton Curry were my picks from this section. The Pan-Asian and continental sections were also adequate, though I missed a pizza oven here.

After a good night's rest, the next morning we were back for breakfast at the same place, and this was a delightful experience. They have several types of dosas that they make at a live counter – Ragi Dosa and Egg Dosa to mention a few. The Tea and Coffee counter was quite crowded with people opting for their favourite versions of tea and coffee. Down south for me, it is always the filter coffee. The idlis were also available in a couple of varieties – Thatte Idli from Karnataka, and a yellow ural dal-based one, the name of which I forgot. There were vadas of different types too, not to speak of about ten types of chutneys accompanying these delicacies. These made me skip the other types of breakfast available, except for a huge Cheese Masala Omelette.

The heavy breakfast was followed by a leisurely walk in the colony next to the hotel. The place mostly had independent houses that had an old-world charm. There were carts selling dosa, idli and other delicacies and people were thronging to them. 

We had visited Vijayawada on at least half a dozen occasions earlier, so the major sightseeing locations were all familiar to me. However, if you are here for the first time on a vacation hire a transport to visit the Kanakadurga Temple, Bhavani Island on River Krishna as well as the Mangalgiri town about 15 km away to have a look and purchase their iconic cotton products like saree and kurta cloth. The hotel will be most happy to make the arrangements.

A highlight of our stay at the hotel was the food of Wugan, their Pan-Asian restaurant. Arguably the best oriental place in town, the restaurant was closed for renovation, but the management arranged for a special tasting session on the last day of my visit so that I could have a feel of its dishes. And, I was very pleasantly surprised, the food was as good as the best in Hyderabad. And it is the only place in Vijayawada to have a teppan.

We started with Salmon Nigiri and went on to taste their California Roll and Asparagus Bell Pepper Maki. The Prawn Tom Kha was nicely presented inside a tender coconut, and the taste complemented the looks. This was followed by some lovely dim sums. The star of the afternoon was the Chicken Yakitori, while the Donburi impressed too. The other dishes we tasted were Kung Bao Chicken and Basil Crispy tofu. The taste overall was excellent. Look up the restaurant when you are in Vijayawada, it is scheduled to reopen after a renovation soon.

Was very pleased with the cosiness of the hotel, where all the staff had a smile on their faces. Every staff member was eager to help and chip in with their suggestions regarding the food and surroundings. Novotel Vijayawada Varun is definitely a good place to visit for a short break from Hyderabad. If you are an Accor Plus member, you can get special vouchers with your membership that will make your stay quite economical compared to the rack rates.


Novotel Varun Vijayawada

near Benz Circle, Bharathi Nagar, Vijayawada 520008

Telephone: 0866 666 8999

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Three Cafes Serving Delightful Food in Hyderabad

 Cafes and restobars are the two formats that have become most popular during the post-Corona revival in Hyderabad. Every day at least one outlet of either format is starting up in the city. Surprisingly to me, even the meh ones are having beginner's luck, as there is a boom in eating out. I am a little apprehensive about the future though and expecting a shakeout in the times to come.

Among the many cafes I visited, I will talk about three that are different, especially in the quality and variety of food offered by them. They have not followed the standard practice of aping the menu of the popular neighbor, instead have worked hard on their dishes. Though I am not a person who gives a lot of weightage to ambience, all three outlets of my choices have very good vibes.

Churrolto, known as you can guess for their Churros, is no stranger to the food lovers in the city. Starting as a small “bandi”, they now have three restaurants in Filmnagar, Banjara Hills, and Madhapur, boasting close to 400 covers. Their central kitchen is in Tolichowki. is huge with modern equipment and very meticulously planned for the rapid expansion of the brand both in the dine-in and delivery segments.

The café chain has recently revamped its menu. I was part of two separate tastings here and can vouch for the quality of their food. For me, the highlights were their breads, a lot of research has gone into them. The Japanese-style milk bread (they call it Kyoto bread) is an ideal component for their sandwiches - Madras Curried Chicken and American Cheese Sandwich. Another innovation Cloudy Pav was the perfect foil to 17th century Kheema as well as Paneer Akhuri. But my top pick here is something called Feather Bread which they serve with their main courses like Dhaka Lamb and Saival Tofu Thai Curry.

Then they had bread bowls accompanied by Veg Stew, Massaman Prawn Curry, and Curried Lamb among the choices.

The thinnest-crust rectangular pizzas that they have introduced are claimed to be the thinnest version in the world. These are called Paper Thin Pizzas, we tried the Spicy Chicken and Barbeque Paneer Pizza versions.

As far as desserts are concerned, they have what they call a Boutique range. The Lite Brownie Bytes use Stevia, a sugar substitute that does not spike your sugar level. The Biscoff Cheesecake was pretty good too. And finally, loved their open space cafe opposite GVK Mall in Banjara Hills, an ideal place to drop in before or after a movie there.

Brews & Blends started as a beverage brand and extended into the cafe business with its first outlet at T-Hub last year. Now the second outlet has just been started in Whitefield. A 50-cover place, it serves a wide range of exotic teas and coffees. It helps that the owner Vidya is a tea sommelier as she can curate the beverage menu very adeptly. She has researched the tea concoctions for a few years before curating the beverage menu.

Their signature is the Make Your Own Blend experience where you can choose your tea base (Green Tea, Black tea, etc.) and add flowers, aromatics, and condiments. The cold brews are interesting too, I especially liked Sun Riser, a cold brew with mango. Coffee XXX has three small portions of different fruit-based coffees. 

The food is not to be left behind, with a large menu designed to keep in mind the pairing with the beverages. The humongous Caesar Salad with chicken, egg, and pork is a meal by itself. The Mascarpone Stuffed French Toast served with maple syrup and vanilla ice cream is another dish I can recommend wholeheartedly. 

Lamb Cigars, Spaghetti Carbonara with pork, Tom Kha Broth, as well as vegetarian and non-vegetarian pizza, are some more noteworthy ideas to try out here. Apart from these, we tried a whole range of dishes including pizzas and pasta, Mushroom Arancini, Loaded Nachos, and Broccoli Soup.

Brews & Blends is open early with a full-fledged breakfast menu to boot. The interior is nice with a special platform where musical or cultural soirees are held. 

The third café that I like is Enchante Café & Confectionary, a cafe tucked inside Road No 81 in Filmnagar. A cute place with cozy indoor and outdoor seating, the cafe has been quite well-known, especially for its confectionery.

Recently, the café has launched a new menu with diverse dishes. The menu has a fine balance of all kinds of dishes ranging from European to Middle Eastern. The dish of the day for me was the Broccoli and Almond Soup, a thick but smooth concoction that appealed to my palate. Other items like Rosemary Chicken Crostini, Wings of Fire, and Southern Fried Chicken Burger impressed me too. It was a pleasure to meet Chef Upender whom I knew from his earlier assignments.

The Lebanese Platter with a range of dips is something that will work out very well with Falafel. Olive and Sundried Tomato Bruschetta is another dish that impressed me. 

The desserts were so good that even a diabetic like me could not resist going for a second spoonful of some of them. Tres Leches, Manhattan Pastry, White Chocolate Berry Log, and Biscoff Cheesecake are a few names that I can safely recommend. 

A special note on the presentation of dishes, a lot of effort has gone into giving the dishes a ravishing look. A huge shout out to the bakery staff here, they have really done a very fine job. You can also visit their counter at the outdoor area and pick up the desserts that appeal to you.

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