Saturday, November 7, 2015

About our stay at the grand old Fairlawn Hotel, Kolkata.

In my previous blog-post I mentioned that we were at Kolkata last week on a holiday and we were at two famous Hotels, Floatel and Fairlawn. That post was all about Floatel the Floating Hotel and our stay there.
This post is about our stay at the other hotel – Hotel Fairlawn. The stay here was fabulous, an equally unforgettable experience as at Floatel Hotel. Fairlawn Hotel is a colonial-era hotel which offers a glimpse into an elegant bygone era. The main building of the hotel was built in 1783! And Fairlawn opened as a Hotel in 1936. This building and the premises are precious and declared as Heritage property by the West Bengal Government. This hotel reminded me of my two weeks stay at the ancient Hotel Falcon, Telford, England. There are so many similarities that it gave me a feeling of being in an old Hotel of UK. The overall ambience of Fairlawn is awesome - extremely large rooms, huge doors, antique furniture, antique light fittings, rooms full of artefacts, memorable pictures, colonial staircases and everything so old, grand and attractive and of course with modern facilities. We got to meet a number of foreign tourists here, from UK, USA and Australia. As a matter of fact, during our 3D 2N stay here we were the only Indian couple residing here. Most of these foreigners have come here on the recommendation of friends and acquaintances who have been here before. The outdoor garden restaurant is quite popular among the locals too, as we have noticed on a Saturday and especially on Sunday evening when it was overcrowded and very noisy.
The Fairlawn Hotel is situated in the heart of the City on Sudder Street, just by the side of Indian Museum - Jawaharlal Nehru Road. The famous Park Street and Esplanade are just a stone’s throw away from this Hotel, to the left and right. And the most famous New Market (over 100 years old Market) is just a few feet away from it. 
You may see the attached photographs and video to get an idea of what I have tried to describe in short.
I was inquisitive to learn about the history of this 234 year old impressive premises and Fairlawn Hotel, which turned out to be very interesting. Several families and guests have lived here, the premises has certainly created and witnessed millions of happy memories. If all these life stories and memories were recorded it could turn into several interesting literary works. I can only imagine all this vaguely and it astonishes me. I shall furnish the bare facts of this place which are as follows: The land on which Fairlawn stands today was purchased by a European, Mr. William Ford from Mr. Sheik Ramjam and Bhonay on 27th May 1781. The area of the land was 2 Bighars, 13 Cottahs and 7 Chittacks (close to one Acre). And the main building came up in 1783. The street before it came to be known by his name as that was the only prominent house in that area. Years later, as a Sadar – Appellate Court House (pronounced Sudder) came up here the street began to be called as Sudder Street.
From Mr. Ford the building passed on to Mr. George Chisholm in 1801. After the death of Mr. Chisholm in 1812, the building passed into the hands of Captain Sir James Mount and then to Sir George Mount from 1812 to 1840 and back to Chisholm family from 1840 to 1873. Sir David Ezra inherited it on 24th December 1873 and it remained with his family until 1900. Then it came into the hands of two English spinsters, Miss Clark and Miss Barratt from 1900 to 1936 who have run it as a guesthouse for many years. And since 1936, Fairlawn has become the property of the present family.
After Mrs. Rosie Sarkies purchased this property in 1936 she managed Fairlawn efficiently and this success made her expand hotel business further in Calcutta, Mussoorie and at Emperor’s Gate, Kensington London. She was in charge from 1936 until her death in 1962. During II World War, Fairlawn was requisitioned for Canadian Air Force personnel and for two years it became “Canada House”. Mrs. Rosie Sarkies daughter, Miss. Violet was married at this hotel in 1944 to Major Ted Smith. Mrs. Violet and Mr. Ted’s only daughter, Jennifer was also married at this hotel…to Mr. Fowler in 1968. Mrs. Violet Smith managed this hotel from 1962 along with her husband Mr. Ted Smith who died in 2002. And in her later years since 1997 she managed Fairlawn along with her daughter Mrs. Jennifer Fowler until her demise in 2014 at the age of 94. Mrs. Jennifer Fowler is the Managing Director and in charge of the Hotel.
The Hotel has received Six National Awards so far for outstanding performance from the Ministry of Tourism. For more details of the hotel and its prominent patrons you may visit the Hotel’s website:
At The Fairlawn Hotel – A Music Video:

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