This post is a part of the Great Escape series
Picture: Fernando Monte da Silva
There's nothing quite like shrimp for breakfast
This one has been on the back burner for a while now, given the tumultuous, rollercoaster year that was 2018. However, it is worthy of every bit of mention, purely because of the fact that it is the proper old-school definition of hospitality at its finest. So where is this magical location that I ramble on about, you ask? It is the inimitable Le Meridien Goa, in Calangute. Not even two years old yet, and yet, thoroughly established within the hearts of locals as a firm favourite.
Le Meridien Goa has what I would like to categorise as an interesting location. It is decidedly well-set in the bustling heart of Calangute, and at the same time, hidden away from the prying eyes of most visitors to the strip; tucked behind a couple of buildings in the vicinity. This same ‘vicinity’ comprises the property’s bustling neighbourhood, which is dotted with local fashion boutiques, shops selling little knick-knacks and antique and handloom stores. If shopping is not your thing, fear not, for the neighbourhood is also a stone’s throw away from Holiday Street, which ends up right on Calangute beach, with 15 kilometres of sandy shores on offer, serving as an ideal spot to unwind and catch a glimpse of the breathtaking sunset.
The wife and I decided to take time out of what was a seemingly chaotic schedule to try and explore more of what this fine property was all about, and there is one thing that fascinated me, above all else. Let’s not talk about the fabulous on- site dining and all its amenities for a second; let’s thrust aside the fact that you get welcomed with a proper, conventional éclair (in three variants) which is the Le Meridien standard (one of which is inspired by local flavours) at Longitude 73°, a signature bar offering a fabulous selection of coffee by day and cocktails by night; and let’s not get into the fact that is you have children and need some ‘me time’ to disconnect, there’s always the option of sparking creativity and adventure in your little ones at the hotel’s Family Kids Club.
What I want to talk about, as a writer and notorious introvert, is the hotel’s Library Lounge, that allowed me to escape into a world I’m most comfortable in, one of the written word. The Library Lounge is a concept I particularly loved, because it enables you to choose from an extensive selection of classics, biographies, poetry, travel, drama and suspense, and you can allow your imagination to take flight as you visit unexplored places or tread carefully through war torn lands, as well as be inspired by men and women of great courage and valour or witness their vices take precedence, while never leaving the comfort of your cosy chair, with food and drink for company. I loved the novelty of the concept, and in hindsight, I was amazed that no other property had ever thought of incorporating it into their plans for development.
Picture: Fernando Monte da Silva
Testing the Le Meridien Discovery Bed's promise of a good night's sleep
From there on, it was an evening of being full to the brim when it came to exquisite food at Jazz & Grills the specialty restaurant on the property, which offers expertly crafted canapés and grills, with live performances by celebrated musicians as the backdrop. Chef ‘Chatto’, the chef at the time, had our taste-buds on a massive Ferris wheel of flavour that kept us hoping the amusement park would never shut, but more on that in another post in the very near future. What I will say is this – go to Jazz & Grills – I promise you won’t be disappointed. With bellies full, I decided to test that Le Meridien challenge of ensuring that every guest is ensured a good night’s sleep courtesy their signature Le Meridien Discovery Bed. I must have lost that particular challenge, because I don’t recall anything until the next morning, and I wasn’t even cast in ‘The Hangover’.
Before we hit the road the next morning, we just had to pop into Latest Recipe, the all-day dining restaurant on the property, which showcases an irresistible culinary spread. Fortunately for us, our pit-stop coincided with the weekly brunch date. I’ll have you know, on that note, that there’s nothing quite like shrimp for a late breakfast – or lunch, or dinner for that matter – but it’s particularly special at breakfast, and when you’re hitting the road soon thereafter, as we were. My only regret is that it ended too soon, and I can’t wait to do it all over again.
Le Meridien has managed to make old-school hospitality cool, and nothing seems forced or unnatural, while establishing a level of comfort as well as familiarity.
Every restaurant has something different to offer, and are all worth investigating in their own right.
The Library Lounge is the highlight of the property for people who love to read (such as me).
How to get there
Aguada - Siolim Rd, Gauravaddo, Calangute, Goa 403516
Every once in a while, we all need to let someone else take care of us, and that is precisely what the Great Escape series of posts is all about. It is where I discuss time well spent at places from the most obscure to the glamourous page 3-worthy establishments. At the end of the day, a little self care never hurt anyone.