Luxury staycation shootout: Taj vs. Marriott

In this blog, we share our experience of staycationing in two of the best hotels in Lucknow: The Taj Mahal Hotel and Renaissance Lucknow by Marriott. Except the fact that both are luxury hotels, these are poles apart in theme, target audience and the overall experience.

Read on to find what each of the two has to offer for couples looking for a break from their daily routine.

What’s on offer?

In this section, we compare the two hotels on what was on offer, in terms of amenities, experiences and the property. There’s no good or bad here. To each his own, and hence 5/5 stars for each.

Taj

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Luxury and that heritage feel of “Tajness”. Recommended for those who love long romantic walks in sprawling lawns, the stargazers and the birdwatchers.

The rooms exude the same luxury, from huge facades for sit-outs, layered curtains and solid wood furnishings. Outdoors, there’s a huge luxurious pool with a poolside dining experience.

Room tour – Taj Mahal Lucknow
Renaissance

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Popular mainly with it’s business travelers, there’s modern luxury on offer. From an amazing high-rise view of the Gomti riverfront to automated multi-level blinds on wall-to wall glass windows, the experience is amazing in it’s own right.

A view of Taj Lucknow from Renaissance Lucknow
The view from our room at Renaissance Lucknow. In the background, there’s the Ambedkar memorial and the Gomti river front

With smart glass partitioned shower areas to rooftop poolside café & bar, there’s a distinct modern and youthful vibe on offer.

The room we stayed in had decent tech wizardry and a modern feel, which is captured in our room tour below.

Room tour – Renaissance Lucknow

The food

One of us being a vegetarian and the other “everything-goes”, we had the opportunity to taste multiple cuisines and items on offer. Read more below:

Taj

Rating: 4 out of 5.

We were blown over by the Awadhi cuisine on offer. Chef Akhtar was amazing with the recommendations, portion sizes and the taste. Nihari and kebabs are a must try.

On the other hand, continental fare was quite average. So was the cake and bakery stuff. Tea was mediocre at best.

Renaissance

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Quite the opposite of Taj, we loved the pasta and the amazing dark chocolate pastry with lemon zest.

The Awadhi cuisine and Indian food was quite average. Plus, there were a couple of instances where our requests were not taken care of and the lunch ordered had items missing.

Safety precautions

While “safety” would not find it’s place as a topic in such blogs in regular times, unfortunately 2020 has been one of those years. While standard practices and policies are in place across hospitality businesses, the seriousness for following these measures is more of an attitude. As a guest, you can feel it when you visit a place.

Taj

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Let’s put it this way, this was the only place since the pandemic started where we felt like someone was more concerned about our safety than we at our own homes. From the extensive rulebook to the general attitude of the staff, it was difficult to find a fault here.

The only gap that we could point out was the the dine-in restaurant was shared between the in-house guests and everyone else. This could have been avoided by keeping separate restaurants open.

The huge open spaces are a definite plus here, as you have get the freedom to breathe in the fresh air with proper social distancing.

We also made a detailed video sharing the safety precautions followed, which can be found below.

An interesting capture while staying at Renaissance was to get a bird’s eye view of the fumigation done at Taj every evening.

Renaissance

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

While the policies and rules are in place, these were not as extensive and detailed as at the Taj. Also, there were a couple of instances where the general attitude towards safety was found to be wanting by us.

By no means are we saying that the place was unsafe, but having visited the Taj first we already had a very high standard to compare against.

The rooftop café was shared between in-house guests and casual diners. This could have been avoided. We also had to explicitly ask a couple of staff members at the restaurant to wear their masks while cooking and serving.

We definitely recommend in-room dining only, no matter where you are staying.

Also, the lack of proper open spaces and no natural air ventilation options in the room mean that you start feeling suffocated after a while, and you don’t have many options to step out to anyway.

The L14 restaurant did offer a complete touch-free experience, from browsing the menu to making a payment.

Value for money

Now we look at the financial aspects of both the alternatives. As good as an experience is, the costs associated with it are an important factor to consider before making the final decision.

Taj

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Taj is definitely the more expensive alternative out of the two. But we were offered a discounted price because of the low occupancy and overall low business due to the pandemic.

As people start warming up to the idea of staycations, and with the wedding and festive season setting in, you might need to shell out more over the new year.

But in our opinion, the overall experience more than makes up for the small premium.

Renaissance

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Renaissance is undoubtedly lighter on the pocket out of the two if we compare the sticker tarrifs.

Even here, discounts are on offer due to the low occupancy, but not at the same scale as Taj.

Overall, this is still the relatively more pocket-friendly option out of the two.

Our verdict

From our experience, the margins are thin but there are defining factors which tilt this comparison in the favor of Taj. The possibility to walk outdoors in the fresh air, the comparatively higher commitment to safety and that grand heritage feel about the place make Taj our favorite. Not to forget the amazing Awadhi cuisine and the generous portion sizes.

What’s your opinion on staycations this holiday season? Do let us know in the comments below. Adios with some parting shots from Taj.

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