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For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni
For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni 

Things to do in India

Taj Connemara: a charmingly elegant window into the past

We’re in the heart of Chennai, though it doesn’t feel like it because of the spacious interiors and the greenery outside…

By Vinay Manohar
Director of Sales at Taj Connemara

Taj Connemara has such a rich history that we actually offer guests a heritage tour of the building. The oldest part of the current structure dates back to around the 1880s, though the story goes back much further to when John Binny, surgeon to the Nawab of Arcot, had a house here. Over time, different owners have left their mark on the hotel, so you have colonial style, Art Deco and Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa’s modern tropical style from the 1970s as well, plus features that include carvings from ancient temples in Mahabalipuram and the like.  

We’re in the heart of Chennai, though it doesn’t feel like it because of the spacious interiors and the greenery outside. There are three wings – Heritage, Luxury and Colonial – with a slightly different character, but all very beautifully decorated and airy. Of our 147 rooms, the Colonial ones could be called our USP: think high ceilings, four-poster beds and balconies overlooking the pool, and a contemporary design that mixes old and new. 

There are two restaurants in the hotel. The Veranda overlooks the pool between the Heritage and Colonial wings and is open all day for Anglo-Indian and global dishes, while Raintree specialises in authentic Chettinad cuisine. Finally, there’s The Lady Connemara Bar & Lounge, named after the wife of the Governor of Madras who is honoured in the name of the hotel itself. We have our own patented Connemara Irish whiskey, which is used to make our special ‘Since 1891’ cocktail, which you won’t find anywhere else – and which also has a story behind it. It’s also here that we serve our English Afternoon Tea, another of our signature experiences.  

The people who come to stay with us really appreciate the atmosphere and style of what is a Taj heritage flagship, as well as our facilities and the excellent and discreet service from our mostly local staff. It’s a very relaxing way to learn some local history…

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Alfred & Vinay Manohar

Vinay Manohar was born and raised in Vijayawada, where he qualified in Hotel Management before starting his first job in 2007 as front desk agent at The Gateway Hotel. Since then, he has worked in various roles in luxury hotels in Southern India, joining Taj Connemara in 2019 as Director of Sales. His favourite aspect of his  job is meeting guests and learning about where they come from.