A Relaxing Staycation at Novotel, Hyderabad Airport

After a grueling work week, people adopt different ways to de-stress in the weekend. Some visit watering holes to party hard, some drive down to getaways at a distance from the city. A recent trend with is getting popular in that of a ‘Staycation’ where you spend your weekend at a location close to the city, enjoying scenic surroundings with good food, liquor and a weekend party to boot. Novotel Hyderabad Airport, close to the main city but located in a serene location with lots of greenery combines the twin benefits of having a rocking time as well as getting away from the city.

Novotel is about 35 km from my home in Begumpet. On a Saturday morning, we travelled across the city to reach the hotel at around 11am. The plan was to spend a day there and rejuvenate ourselves after a busy week.  The Saturday morning traffic is not heavy, and we could reach the location in just around 45 minutes. We were early for the check-in and enjoyed a coffee at the hotel lounge as our room was getting allotted.  The room had all the essentials for a comfortable stay. The window overlooked into the al-fresco area just outside their all-day dining restaurant, “The Square”.

After freshening up, the hotel’s lush green lawns beckoned us. It was a sunny afternoon, and after a leisurely time spent there grabbing a bit of Vitamin D, we were soon at the restaurant for lunch. The Square has huge indoor seating, along with two other areas– a few tables overlooking the pool and a significant open-air casual space on the other side.  The restaurant is known for its buffet, but we wanted to go for the continental a-la-carte instead. An assortment of starters was ordered, which had Paneer tikka, Chicken satay, and prawns among others. A clear broth of chicken accompanied them. We were four of us and enjoyed the best of food, including a wholesome Tenderloin Steak, Norwegian Salmon Steak, Grilled Tiger Prawns and Roasted Chicken. The salmon was the pick of our lunch, while other dishes were not lagging behind either.  A nicely-presented dish of Tiramisu brought a fitting end to the sumptuous lunch.

While most people prefer the buffets at The Square, the a-la-carte dishes at the coffee shop are worth a look. A choice of menu from diverse cuisines are available here and can definitely make your food journey interesting.

Weekends are all about relaxing and next, I took a short nap to rejuvenate myself.  Post-nap and some good tea at the lobby augmented with some delicious Chicken Pakoda and a green chutney, we went on a tour of the hotel. Our first stop was the O2 Spa, where facilities for ayurvedic spa therapy is available. There is a specific couple room, which can be selected to avail of the treatment. The gym was located on the same floor as the spa.

On the top floor of the hotel are the Premier Suites. The suite has a balcony from where one can have a nice view of the greenery around.  There is a Premier Lounge on the same floor for exclusive use of people using the suites.

The area around Hyderabad airport is extremely green, and one can go on an evening walk around the hotel too. After a brisk and refreshing walk, we settled down for a drink at The Bar, the lobby level watering hole of the hotel. I had been to this place recently for a promotion of whisky based cocktails by Diageo, and really appreciated the new menu of finger food here. The Bar has some really comfortable sofas and over a drink, I had a long chat with Executive Chef Varun Movva, who has been leading the kitchen staff for about a year now. Chef Varun detailed that the menu at Haldi (the Indian restaurant in the hotel) has been augmented. He also explained the rationale behind the new food menu at The Bar. It was time for dinner soon, and we decided to head for an Indian dinner.

Before visiting Haldi we had a look at the King of BBQ Grill, a live grill serving meat, seafood, and vegetarian barbeques as part of the Saturday buffet dinner at The Square. The grill was set up at the al-fresco area of the restaurant, with different Indian and continental style sauces on display. A choice of seafood like prawns, pomfret, crabs and rohu fish as well as paneer and mushroom were kept marinated too for immediate preparation as par the customer requirement.

At Haldi, Chef Varun presented some of the signature dishes from the menu. The highlight was Atta Chicken from Punjab, where soft marinated chicken ensconced in a casing of whole wheat flour was presented on the table. The casing was cut across to reveal some really juicy and soft chicken. Tandoori Prawns, Dahi ke kabab and Lamb Chops were among the other delectable starters we tried, one that stood out was Sarson ki Subz, with an optimum mustard marinade. Some brilliant Lal Maas, Amritsari Bharta, and Malabar Fish Curry for main courses were paired with some nice naans, and Kulfi with falooda did full justice to our dessert cravings. I had always a very good impression of Haldi, and the current meal augmented my view of the outlet even more.

After a very comfortable night’s sleep, we were up pretty late on Sunday. The Sunday breakfast was laid out at the Square.  The spread was huge, but I preferred to concentrate on my favourite bacon and pork sausages with croissants. The South India fare like dosa and Podi Idli were absolutely fresh, and the filter coffee counter served some aromatic version of the beverage.

It was quite crowded on a Sunday morning at the hotel, and we decided to go for some fresh breeze outside. The hotel has a large playing area with a basketball court, and tennis court, for guests interested in indulging in sports. But, the most interesting place for me was the in-house farm which the hotel has. Vegetables like broccoli, cherry tomato, papaya, lemongrass, and chilies are all cultivated here, providing the restaurant's farm fresh ingredients for preparation. The space near the farm area is used for customized parties for a small number of people who wish to have a healthy meal in a natural environment.

In the afternoon, we assembled at The Square again, this time for The Sunday Brunch. The brunch has the widest spread among all meals in the hotel, with a lot of customized food and cocktails available on demand. A host of sushi and nigiri, numerous live counters serving grills, fresh appams were some of the highlights.  The dishes that I loved from the brunch were the Signature Novotel Burger (a huge burger stuffed with shredded chicken, cheese and veggies), appams with some nice Chicken Sukka, as well as Baked Fish with pepper and cheese. But the most impressive was the dessert counter, with close to forty different desserts on display. From Strawberry Roulade and Pineapple Surprise (a brilliant presentation) to the Telugu dessert Pootharekulu, there was something for everyone. I loved a particular dessert “Eggless Proline Chocolate Cup” which was very light but delicious. My wife, who is a dessert lover had a gala time here.

Novotel close to Hyderabad Airport is definitely a nice place to spend the weekend away from the hustle and bustle of the city. You can party here or decide to have a relaxed weekend, either way, it becomes a very rejuvenating weekend vacation. The staycation can be done without much planning right at the point when you want to get away on a weekend. It was redeeming to know that they are also introducing a “Daycation” when you can spend time from morning to evening at the hotel. When we checked out from the hotel in the afternoon, I really felt that the good time here ended too soon. But we had another program to attend, and could not extend our trip. Another visit here with my friends will be an interesting proposition in the near future.

Disclaimer: The staycation at Novotel Hyderabad Airport was on an invite from the hotel

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