|Vivanta by Taj—Connemara|
|Hotel chain||Taj Hotels|
|Address||2, Binny Road, off Anna Salai
Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600 002
|Opening||1854 (as the Imperial Hotel)|
|Number of rooms||150|
|Number of suites||5|
Vivanta by Taj—Connemara, Chennai is a five-star hotel in Chennai, India. It is a heritage hotel in Chennai. Classified under the Taj Group's business hotels section, the hotel is considered the oldest hotel in the city.
Taj Connemara was originally built as the Imperial Hotel in 1854 under the proprietorship of Triplicane Rathinavelu Mudaliar, renamed Albany in 1886 when it was leased to two other Mudaliar brothers, and re-established as The Connemara in 1890, named after the then Madras Governor during 1881-1886, Robert Bourke, baron of Connemara, a county in Ireland, later becoming a Spencer's hotel. In 1891, Eugene Oakshott, owner of Spencer's, then a little shop near Anna Circle, bought the hotel and its nine acres to build a showroom. Oakshott wanted to give Spencer's a facelift, so he decided to build one of Asia's biggest departmental store. In the 1930s, James Stiven, director of Spencer's, modernised the hotel starting in 1934, and the modernisation was completed in 1937. It sported an art deco look when it was reopened in 1937. The tower block and linking pool was designed by architect Geoffrey Bawa in 1974. In 1984, the Taj Group of Hotels acquired the hotel.
In 2008, historian S. Muthiah wrote a book on the heritage of the hotel, A Tradition of Madras that is Chennai—The Taj Connemara, which reproduces an advertisement from 1880 that states the hotel, called The Imperial Hotel then, promises "extensive premises… cool and fitted with every convenience" and wines from the "celebrated house of Messrs. McDowell & Co." The book gives a rare collection of photographs of old Madras roads, buildings, interiors of the hotels and the hotel's tariff since 1939. According to Muthiah, the British rated Connemara as one of the best hotels in the world.
Taj Connemara has a total of 150 rooms, which include 141 double rooms and 9 suites. The hotel has 5 meeting rooms which include a ball room that can accommodate up to 400 people in a theatre style and up to 600 people for cocktails. The conference room of the hotel can accommodate up to 30 people in a theatre style. The restaurants in the hotel include The Verandah—a 24-hour coffee shop serving Indian, Continental, Chinese and Thai food, Distil—serving exotic cocktails, spirits, wines, beer and light snacks in a colonial ambiance, Raintree—an ethnic, open-air restaurant serving Chettinad cuisine from Tamil Nadu with South Indian cultural performances every night, and Grill at the Lounge—serving Continental lunches and dinner, including a special executive lunch.
In 2004, the Taj Group renovated a total of 65 rooms in the hotel.
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