Pune's five-star hotel is The Blue Diamond. It is like the city itself, neat and compact, filled with polite people. Like everything else in recent Pune, it was made famous by the Rajneesh people, who used to stay there. It is to the credit of the hotel that its reputation did not go down with its strange customers but was in fact enhanced.
Every city has at least one hotel which is typical of it. Delhi has Ashoka, which looks like one of New Delhi's massive secretariat buildings and is run like one. Government guests are normally put up it, as were Zubin Mehta's orchestra members, and who fled from it because of cockroaches, thus earning the Ashoka an instant international reputation.
The tow new Tajs, the Maurya, the other Delhi hotels, do not go with the city. But the Oberoi Maidens does, though the relationship is with an older, a more civilised Delhi.
The Oberoi Grand, of course, is very much Calcutta, as is The Great Eastern. They are as large as, old and as venerably grand as the city to which they belong. Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish whether The Great Eastern belongs to Calcutta or Calcutta belongs to Great Eastern.
In Ahmedabad, though a number of new hotels have come up, the main hotel is still Cama Hotel. The city's big industrial houses have their own guest houses and they compete very well with the hotels, both in living quarters and some of the best vegetarian food in the country.
In Agra, I think, now that Laurie's is no more, the Clarke-Shiraz is the hotel. The Welcomgroup's Mughal is a lovely hotel, probably among the loveliest hotels in the world, providing more space (area) per guest than any other hotel in the country. But it is not Agra, more like a film set of what a hotel in Agra should be like. This may be because the first time I visited the hotel-it was also the last time - a film unit was shooting in it and it had hired the entire hotel.
Laurie's was typical cantonment Agra, a single-stroreyed structure, all white, with white collonades running along its entire length, a row of rooms behind them, mosquito nets on doors, bearers in turbans, an elderly Anglo-Indian lady as manger.
Unfortunately, it did not have a view of the Taj. Most of the other hotels do. I remember getting up at the Holiday Inn and finding the Taj framed in my window.
In Goa, it is not difficult to find the representative hotel. It is Mandovi, overlooking the river, in the town of Panaji and not somewhere out on the beaches, serving authentic Goan food.
Bombay's representative hotel has to be the Taj. If for no other reason, for the number of years it has been there (here).