I don't think I can put into words how amazing our trip to The Leela Goa has been. Not realising this was The Hotel featured in the movie Bride and Prejudice, it really is as breathtakingly beautiful and colourful inside and out as it is portrayed on the film.
My husband and I flew with Thomas Cook from Manchester direct to Goa and it took around 8 hours. The flight was ok, smooth journey and the in flight service was not "Emirates", but hey we knew that before we took off! We arrived close to midnight indian time and it was a barmy 25 degrees, lovely. This is my second time to India and as soon as you land your senses know you have left Europe as the local sounds and smells kick in instantly. We eventually retrieved our luggage from the madness at Dabolim Airport (you must grab your bag before the airport helpers do or you will be chasing your tail), and then we were directed to our coach for transfer to the hotel.
There were only three couples on our little minibus to the hotel, and my husband and I were one of them. The Rep Jack spoke very good English and informed us we would be the last drop off. For a stay at The Leela I was surprised we would have to drop the other folks off first and we would be the last. We were soon to learn that this would not any normal transfer. The journey took over an hour with two stops at the other hotels. At each stop I had to also get out and catch my breath! It was pitch black, the roads were long and winding, there are random and pointless speed bumps, there is little street lighting so the drivers constantly flash and dip their headlights, and of course there are the roaming cows and dogs to avoid along the way! It felt like a Universal Studio 3D theme park ride, sorry but that is the only way I can explain it. We eventually arrived at The Leela, by which point I felt sick as a dog, but out of nowhere you arrive at paradise - thank the lord!
It is sooooo beautiful, the first class service begins with a big smile and warm welcome from the porters who greet you and take your bags and don't forget the lovely garland they pop round your neck as your enter reception. The journey may have been long and the transfer a mini nightmare, but OMG the walkway to reception is stunning (even at night). Everything is pristine, the walkways are marble, the flowers are blooming and the reception staff immaculate. We take a seat while our passports are checked and out pops a lovely lady from reception in the Leela sari uniform with a refreshing coconut drink. This is the service I remember from my last trip to a 5 star hotel in india, you don't get this anywhere else in the world!
All checked in our bags are taken directly to our room and we follow behind. The receptionist is very informative about the hotel, breakfast times etc and shows us to our amazing lagoon room. The room was very spacious, tastefully decorated with all mod cons and fabulous bathroom with built in sound from the plasma tv. There is nothing you could complain about, just perfect!
Next morning we wake up to clear blue sky, warm weather and a kingfisher sitting on our balcony. Think he must have liked our room as he returned every day after that! Off we go to breakfast, walking through the lush gardens and greeted by every staff member we pass on the way. The whole hotel is just breathtaking and you could spend hours taking pictures, to the point you may even miss breakfast!
Breakfast room is called The Restaurant, which may seem a bit obvious, but this really sums up everything on offer at breakfast. You could have continental, full English, American, Chinese, Indian, healthy, not so healthy.......I could go on. In summary there is something for every taste and it is all first class. The service and waiters are all polite and again immaculate in their uniforms. It was a little off putting seeing a security chap with a rifle wandering the balcony, but I soon learned this was purely to scare off the birds - phew!
After breakfast off to the beach where the impressive attentive service doesn't stop. The beach guys see you coming and help you locate your sun beds and promptly place your towels for you. It is a bit unnerving at first, not doing these basic things for yourself like you do on European holidays, however the chaps are diligent and very helpful. They then give a blue and red flag. Put up your blue flag and the waiters know you want to order something. Put up your red flag and this means do not disturb. I told you this was paradise!
As we were there on a B&B basis we had to find somewhere to eat in the evenings. The hotel has an impressive international menu, and also offers different events most nights on the beach, however this will cost you and then you can add 30% tax on top! I know the hotel is amazing and pure luxury but when you can buy the same bottle of water for a fraction of the price down the road, you end up going elsewhere.
On recommendation from a friend who has visited Goa before, we were advised to try Betty's and The Fishermans Wharf. Both these restaurants are less than a 5 minute walk from the Leela, and when you get there you see familiar faces from your hotel as everyone seems to eat at these places (I presume to avoid the hotel prices too). For two people with starters, main, dessert and drinks it will cost you around £25! The food was fine and the fish very fresh. You have to watch the spices though as the Goans seem to love their chilli and the food can be rather hot! Best bit about these places is that they have live music, a singer or some form of entertainment most nights too.
We had a very relaxing two weeks, soaking up the sun away from the cold uk winter blues, with first class service, an amazing hotel, beautiful beach and felt very spoilt in this haven of luxury. We spoke to a guy on the beach who told us he has been coming to The Leela for the past 12 years, however the "record to beat" is 22 years, on asking him why he comes back he said look around, you don't get this anywhere else - and really we had to agree!!
Think we will be going back to Goa some day, and yes I would recommend The Leela 100%, however the transfer is the only thing that puts me off. A visit to The Leela is a life time experience that cannot be put into words and we are so glad we have been. Big thank you Leela it was amazing, I am so sad to be home!
Honeymoon island if you there for special trip!
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC