Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home |  Volume 6, Issue 07, Tuesday, February 15, 2011




Home is where the cricket is:
hotels in Bangladesh

Once described as the city of 52 roads and 53 alleys, Dhaka has now grown enormous enough to be bifurcated into Old Dhaka and New Dhaka. Traffic jams, power cuts and water shortages are features of life here, but overwhelming them all is the city's zest for life - so infectious it is bound to sweep you up as well.'- Utpal Shuvro, ESPN on Travel Dhaka.

People around the world are going to come with hopes of finding a home here during this prestigious time. Good service, hospitality, a comfortable bed to rest on when there aren't matches going on are just a few things next to our delicious local cuisine that the tourists will be looking for.

Congested as it is, Dhaka offers accommodation to suit all pockets.

Dhaka Sheraton Hotel
The first popular international five-star hotel in Bangladesh, the Dhaka Sheraton Hotel is in the city's most prestigious site, just three kilometres from the downtown business district and close to the famous Ramna Park, the Prime Minister's office, National Art Museum, and the Kurmitola Golf Course.

Retreat to one of the 272 guest rooms and five categories of suites and relax in the sitting room, taking in the view. Take pleasure in the best of local and international cuisine on offer at the hotel's top restaurants.

Sheraton's average pricing per room is $117-$197.

The Westin Dhaka
Let Dhaka's newly opened five-star hotel in Gulshan revive your spirits. Nestled in the new business district, it is within walking distance of renowned shopping malls, foreign missions, restaurants, art galleries, and private clubs.

Westin's 241 spacious rooms and suites offer modern amenities. Replenish in their bar or six restaurants. The average price/night of rooms is $165++.

Pan Pacific Shonargaon
Known to be completely worth it's tariff' by its guests, the Pan Pacific Sonargaon Dhaka Hotel is an abundant hideaway in Dhaka's ever-so-busy downtown, offering a calming respite from the city.

Relax and rejuvenate with state-of-the-art facilities, and an outdoor pool set amidst lush greenery. Take in the culture of Dhaka, where interesting sights abound within close proximity of the hotel. Your stay will cost you about an average of $102-$185.

Radisson Water Garden Hotel Dhaka
Expanding over seven acres of perfected grounds and gardens with water features, the Radisson Water Garden Hotel Dhaka offers all the services of a hotel with the atmosphere and amenities of an elite resort. Relax in the outdoor pool, unwind in the spa or enjoy a game of golf on the adjacent course. The average pricing per room is $209-$843.

Platinum Suites
This hotel has been established in a convenient location with a view to offer best services to its valued clients. Platinum Suites, is situated in Banani, only ten kilometers from Shah Jalal International Airport. Exclusive hospitality, management and stunning design will always make you feel at home.

In Platinum Suites, they try to provide you with all the means and ways to ensure a perfect stay for their valued guests. So, relax and enjoy your trip to Bangladesh, and leave all your hospitality needs in their committed hands. Their average pricing per room will cost from $120-$275.

Bengal Inn
A stylishly decorated boutique hotel with all the modern amenities to make your stay cosy and comfortable is the Bengal Inn. Located in the posh area of the city, it is close to Gulshan Circle-1 and only a 15 minute drive from Shah Jalal International Airport. Within a walking distance you will find all that you need for your entertainment; shopping, banks, restaurants, etc. The price ranges from $90-$145, which is a bargain considering the quality of service and rooms.

Lakeshore Hotel and Apartments
Discover a remarkably welcoming environment among the top Dhaka hotels, in the very heart of the commercial and diplomatic part of the city, at Lakeshore Hotel. Your pleasant experience begins right from the moment you meet their warm and welcoming staff at the airport. At Lakeshore, the attractions include a rooftop temperature-controlled swimming pool, spa, sauna, and steam bath - together with a beautiful lake view experience. Room tariffs range from $270-$525.

Grand Prince Hotel
In the heart of the capital city of Bangladesh, the Grand Prince Hotel offers services and amenities to guarantee an enjoyable experience for all. Commitment to excellent service and a tradition of world-famous Bangladeshi hospitality makes the Grand Prince Hotel the perfect "home away from home" during your stay in Bangladesh. At tariffs ranging from $44-$148, it is one of the bargain hotels on our list.

Hotel Purbani International Ltd.
At the Hotel Purbani International Ltd. from the moment you arrive to the time you check-out you can be assured of the finest quality service and facilities.

At a superb location in downtown Dhaka, the hotel is only 2 minutes away from Dhaka's main business district and Kamalapur, the main railway station.

It boasts of fully A/C rooms, decorated with modern amenities and services for you to relax in with 225 rooms ranging from Standard and Deluxe rooms to Executive and Superior Suites. The rooms will cost you from $30-$160.

These are just a few to name amongst the vast variety of hotels and that too just in Dhaka city. There are also such hotels in Chittagong that will make your stay for the World Cup even more worthwhile.

Hotel Agrabad
Recently renovated Hotel Agrabad Chittagong, an international hotel is ideally located in the heart of the Agrabad commercial area, Chittagong's financial business vicinity. The hotel is within easy access from Chittagong's Shah Amanat International Airport and port area which encompasses the Chittagong Export Processing Zone.

At Hotel Agrabad, both the business and leisure traveller to Chittagong will experience a wealth of warmth and hospitality. The tariffs on the rooms will range from $213-$950.

Hotel Peninsula
Situated at the GEC circle of the Port City, this hotel provides superior services, combining western sophistication and Chittagonian generosity in a scenic and convenient location. Discover the exclusive retreat just minutes from the commercial centre surrounded by famous retail shops, restaurants and corporate offices.

The average pricing per room is from $160-$300.

Hotel Meridian
The first company established under Meridian Group was Meridian Hotel & Restaurant in 1992. At the end of its first decade, Meridian has proven so popular and has become such a trustworthy name that it is now known as one of the finest hotels and restaurants in Chittagong. Meridian is a luxury hotel and restaurant offering best service for food at a competitive price. The average pricing per room is $40-$50.

Now, that you have a list of places that will make you feel like your own home on the same grounds that the World Cup will take place, there's absolutely no reason for you to worry about being comfortable during your stay. Come to our country and just leave the rest up to us. Enjoy Bangladesh.

By Naziba Basher
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed


Treasures in and around town

The hustle and bustle of the overpopulated capital may not seem like an attractive place for tourists coming from abroad. And citizens also may very easily underestimate the attractions surrounding them, while planning a trip abroad instead. But Dhaka, in its own right, is home to a large number of remarkable places to visit.

A trip to Bangladesh National Museum at Shahbagh can be a good start. The museum showcases a continuum of items and is divided into several parts, such as the department of history and classical art, department of ethnography and decorative art, department of natural history, etc. The building houses many interesting artefacts from terracotta pieces to fossils to medieval armoury.

Although the museum may fall behind many outstanding ones built in many other parts of the world, the main reason to visit it, especially if you are a foreigner, is the museum's portrayal of the Liberation War and Language Movement. The museum will provide you, by showing exciting photos of many of the weapons used, etc, a good first hand idea of our rebellious history, something of great importance to us. The museum will transport you through time and give you a glimpse of our heritage as well.

An appreciation of sights to see in Dhaka needs the old part of the city to be highlighted. Dhaka, being at least four hundred years old, is home to some amazing historical buildings and monuments. Pay a visit to Ahsan Manzil, popularly known as the “Pink Palace”. The building, which used to be the official palace of the Nawab Family, was completed in 1872. Throughout the centuries, the palace has seen catastrophes, for which renovations had to be made. The grand building was a power house indeed, serving different purposes at different times, from being a trading centre to a residence of a Nawab. But today the site is of historical interest and a portion of it has been converted to a museum. The grand, yet somewhat homely building, is a major attraction not to be missed.

Old town has a lot of ancient sites and buildings, standing as a testament to our rich heritage. But the government and many businesses sometimes put a blindfold on and do little to preserve that heritage. To create awareness about Puran (Old) Dhaka's heritage, Urban Study Group (USG) arranges heritage walks. “Usually on the weekends, we choose a locality of interest and walk in the streets of that area, highlighting all the ancient sites on our way. There are many sites so neglected and uncared for that they may go unnoticed to the layman's eyes. We cover those sites as well. The walk therefore gives us a highly comprehensive understanding of our heritage”, informed Taimur Islam, one of the founders of USG. “But we will grab this opportunity of having the World Cup in our country to promote our heritage to a large number of foreign tourists. We will therefore hold walks throughout the week for this special event,” Taimur Islam said. If you want to take part in the walk then contact the organisation at usg.dhaka@gmail.com for dates and other details.

Then there is the religious side of the city. Dhaka is also renowned as the city of mosques. There is an innumerable number of mosques all throughout the city, many of them worthy of a visit - because of their architecture, size or beauty. Since the Mughals ruled the land, there are some beautiful, ancient mosques in Dhaka, such as Seven Domed Mosque in Mohammadpur and Khan Mohammad Mosque on Lalbagh road. Also pay a visit to Star Mosque or Tara Masjid in Armanitola, which is quite possibly the most beautiful mosque in Dhaka. On the other hand, if scale impresses you, we have Baitul Mukarram Mosque, which ranks as the tenth largest mosque in the world. (For more information on mosques in Dhaka, refer to a previos article in our magazine called “Sites of Divine Worship”, published on January 11, 2011, Volume 11, Issue 32).

If your quest for archaeology still wants more, take a daytrip to Sonargaon. One of the ancient capitals of Bengal, the place has a lot of ancient buildings, monuments and shrines. Panam Nagar, for example, is an area now in a ruined condition with many ancient buildings fighting to survive. Other tourist attractions include Lok Shilpo Jadughar (Local Crafts Museum) and Goaldi Mosque.

On the other hand, escaping the city to Savar, a mere thirty five kilometers away from town is another option. There one will find a grand and marvellous monument in honour and remembrance of the martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the liberation war in 1971. National Martyr Memorial was designed by architect Syed Mainul Hossain. The work was completed in 1982. The inspiring design is composed of several triangles clustered together in a unique way, with the central one being the tallest. Several mass graves lie in front of the memorial. There is also a man-made lake at the site.

There is no doubt that Dhaka offers a lot more than traffic, pollution and stress. While the busyness of the people, fast pace of the city and ugly urban “developments” have somewhat hidden the attractions, it is worthwhile to slow down and see the city from a different perspective, one that is more respectful to the heritage and the waning beauty of the town.

By M H Haider
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed



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