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‘My Favourite Hotel’ review – The Sind Club, Karachi, Pakistan

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Today, our ‘My Favourite Hotel’ review is The Sind Club, Karachi, 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:

Review The Sind Club, Karachi, Pakistan

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.

Review The Sind Club, Karachi, Pakistan

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.

Review The Sind Club, Karachi, Pakistan

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.

Review The Sind Club, Karachi, Pakistan

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.

Review The Sind Club, Karachi, Pakistan

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.


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Comments (54)

  • Sam says:

    I really like and enjoy the content on this website and am hardly ever critical about it. But I’ve gotta admit, this is the worst review I’ve read in this series! Nothing in it about why this hotel is special – it appears the writer purely seems to like this hotel because it reminds him of his boarding school days, there is an undertone of the colonial era in the article. The comment “When I die, I hope heaven is modelled on the Sind Club”, just sums it up! Seriously?!

    • TGLoyalty says:

      From the review I gather the Hotel is special for the atmosphere and service rather than the hard product itself, which is why there isn’t great detail on the decor/rooms etc.

      I found the review interesting and while the empire shouldn’t be celebrated it can’t just be swept under the carpet like
      It never happened and not to be mentioned again.

      Obviously people locally must enjoy it otherwise they wouldn’t still be in business.

      Regarding other comments below about why there’s Kiev etc on the menu when there’s lots of great local food … I’m sure the locals enjoy a variety of international cuisine just like you do 🙂

      • Novice says:

        I agree. Colonialism was wrong but it is part of history. History should be remembered so it is never repeated. I’m against the whole notion of erasure which some people seem to want.

  • James King says:

    I beg to differ: I actually thought it was one of the better reviews, capturing the uniqueness of this colonial-era hotel/club, which current Pakistani members clearly want to retain. The tranquility, high levels of service and staff, and nostalgia make it an oasis away from the frenetic Karachi traffic. I personally hate to see stuffed animals but I also dislike the snide tone of “there is an undertone of the colonial era in the article”. What, because the reviewer enjoyed a colonial-era hotel. Seriously?!

    • Sam says:

      “What, because the reviewer enjoyed a colonial-era hotel. Seriously?!”

      No James, nothing to do with it being a colonial-era hotel. Its the way the writer is referring to ‘the good old days’.

      I wouldn’t say my initial comment had (or certainly intended) for there to be a snide tone. I’m just stating my opinion on how this review came across to me!
      (Just to add I’ve been to Karachi and believe Pakistan is an underrated country and there is a lot of (good) things to it which unfortunately this review does not touch upon).

  • Jameel Malik says:

    Sounds like a great hotel. I couldn’t agree more with my alter ego.

  • ChrisBCN says:

    This is a joke, right?

  • OHR says:

    Were there any women playing blackgammon? I thought this would be interesting given the new VA routes. Think I will stick to Shoreditch House. HfP is better than this.

    • Mike Lo says:

      Better than what exactly……? Pakistan actually has some fabulous Mughal architecture, fantastic food and believe it or not the big cities have plenty of women out and about enjoying and living life! Trust me walking around Soho House Mumbai is not much dissimilar from Pakistan….;)

      • OHR says:

        I meant better than an old school review of a seemingly outdated institution. As you said, there must be some interesting places to visit in Pakistan which I am keen to see. This review put me off this “members club” and perhaps set the wrong tone for a gateway to a new destination. Not sure how to marry VS (which is the topical points link to Pakistan) with this…

        • Novice says:

          If one does their own research then no need to marry anything to anything else.

          Yes, the whole members only, colonial thing is nothing to be proud over but it is history so there’s that.

        • Mike Lo says:

          Fair enough….. I must admit I don’t like that old school vibe myself…let alone chicken kiev and spotted dick in Karachi of all places.

  • Pete says:

    I really struggled reading this. Maybe it’s an age thing, but I find articles that wistfully look back at the time Britain ruled the world as “the good old times” very awkward and pretty tone-dead…

    • MikeL says:

      I agree with your comments. Not one of my favourite reviews tbh

    • Cat says:

      +1 with the awkward and tone-deaf. It’s one thing to appreciate some of the colonial era architecture, but it’s another thing entirely to be so wistful about that whole dreadful era. Plus, I think I would vomit if I saw a stuffed snow leopard right after dinner.

      • Novice says:

        I was imagining a really old guy with white hair. Although I agree with you Cat, this is the opposite to my beliefs and taste, I usually just treat these sort of opinions or views as history that is a lesson that it shouldn’t ever happen again.

        • AJA says:

          Reg reminds me of that wonderful parody Fast Show character by Paul Whitehouse; Rowley Birkin QC, drunk as a skunk in his club chair, verrry verrry drunnnkk!

        • Rob says:

          Here’s the thing. If you go to, say, the Reform or the Travellers clubs on Pall Mall, as I do very occasionally, it is like this. The last time I had lunch at the Reform, every guest except me was a white guy over 60 and every waiter was BAME and under 20 it seemed. No need to go to Karachi to find this stuff.

          • OHR says:

            Given the prevalence of very good members clubs in London I don’t know why you bother with those.

  • Andy says:

    Each to their own but it sounds awful, and the review has a distinct whiff of private school colonial arrogance about it.

    There is so much great Pakistani food why on earth you’d want to eat chicken Kiev and spotted dick is beyond me.

    But as I said, each to their own.

  • Paul says:

    It doesn’t sound like my kind of place, but I like the writing and the structure of the piece, particularly the heavenly theme. Having been driven around Bangalore a few times, I understand the feeling of relief on arriving at your lodgings.

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