Today, our ‘My Favourite Hotel’ review is from Pakistan.
Due to a continued strong response from readers, we are running another batch of ‘My Favourite Hotel’ reviews over the next few weeks. This time we want to focus on ‘unique’ hotel experiences and we’ve received some great suggestions.
Hopefully you will enjoy reading these new reviews over the next few weeks. As always you can find all of the ‘My Favourite Hotel’ reviews by clicking here or searching for ‘My Favourite Hotel’ in the ‘Categories’ menu on the desktop sidebar.
Today’s hotel is The Sind Club in Karachi, Pakistan – one of Asia’s oldest exclusive members-only clubs. Here is reader Reg’s review:
Stepping into the night at Karachi Airport a mass of waiting people throng the arrivals hall. The noise, the smell, the dust, the sheer size of the teaming crowd is overwhelming and as I push through the mass of people the taxi touts hassle and jostle me incessantly.
The drive into Karachi is fraught with periods of psychotic driving followed by long bouts sitting still in stationary traffic. Horns blare incessantly and the air is thick with fumes. Huge trucks overloaded with goods rumble along. Motorbikes weave everywhere, many carrying entire families (mum, dad, teenager, toddlers and a baby or two). Helmets are optional. A journey that would, on an open road, take 15 minutes, takes 45.
It bears repeating, the drive is terrifying. My life is in the hands of the almighty. I resign myself to my fate. And then the gates of the Sind Club appear.
The armed guard questions who I am – relief as my name is on the list and in to the haven of the Sind Club I am ushered.
The Sind Club is a private members club – the private members club – in Karachi, Pakistan. In a city of 20 million people, it is an oasis of calm, tranquility and achingly beautiful colonial splendor.
I am welcomed by a uniformed porter and even the patina of the wood on the reception desk as I hand over my passport smooths my mood – a feeling of relaxation and serenity takes over. It is impossible to be stressed here. My room is clean, pleasant and basic. I am reminded of my boarding school functionality over luxury.
I am hungry and the restaurant is where the Sind Club comes in to its own. Food is served by a crisp white turbaned waiter on a silver platter.
Again I am reminded of my boarding school. The menu is English public school circa 1985. Chicken Kiev and chips with spotted dick and custard to follow (skin on the custard at no extra charge). Stuffed tigers look down at me from the wall. Men play backgammon and chess. The mobile phone is banned. Sir Roger Moore would feel at home.
I leave my rushing western pace behind at the Club gates. I awake leisurely and stroll down for breakfast. The newspapers are ironed. I eat heartily (no bacon though). The coffee is thick and strong.
I treat myself to a shave by the Club barber and off to the office for a round of meetings. Lunch out and back for a nap and a swim before dinner. The pool is tranquil and I relax in the steam room which seems to act as the equivalent of a drink after work for the Club members. I learn to copy them and walk around the gardens before the sun goes down bringing peace to the soul. Their easy laid back manner belies the furious politicking and plotting that is a constant part of Karachi society.
When the British ruled India (before the partition into Pakistan), the club in any town or city was the staple of social life. Even as a small child growing up in expat lands I was aware of the importance of “the club” – all life seemed to revolve around it. Established in 1871, the Sind Club managed the transition from British colonial club to Pakistani club with ease and great success, the names on the Chairman’s board merely changed from John Smith to Ahmed Khan.
After dinner, a game of billiards and a cool drink in the bar with a snow leopard in a case watching me. The faded photos on the wall stare back, old games of polo and hunts in the hills by men long dead – like us all strong and tall in their prime.
When I die, I hope heaven is modelled on the Sind Club.
You can learn more about the Sind Club on its website here. You can book a room here if you are a member of a ‘reciprocal’ club, which in the UK includes The Royal Over Seas League (membership open to anyone without recommendation), the East India Club, the Royal Automobile Club, the Oriental Club, the In and Out and the Royal Northern & University Club.