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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)

  • Tristan says:

    This is a very well-written article about an interesting hospitality option which many forget exists. Clubs often provide excellent service at a reasonable price and a decent network of reciprocal clubs (and a jacket and tie in one’s suitcase) is a very useful thing to have when travelling.

    HfP should be praised for running an interesting piece that was bound to provoke a little controversy. I do hope Rob won’t be unduly influenced by the ‘woke’ minority who take perfectly legitimate (if of declining relevance) questions about the Empire and use them as a cudgel to silence any viewpoint other than their own, far-left, ideology.

    As reader ‘AJA’ notes, there is considerable hypocrisy in condemning exclusive hospitality at the same time as enjoying a blog that devotes so much time to achieving it.

    I would also note that, without knowing the Sind Club in particular, staff at the more traditional private clubs are often long-serving and enjoy a substantially better working environment and more appreciation from members than do their counterparts in purely commercial hospitality.

  • Sandra says:

    These ‘Clubs’ are still there and still run along the same colonial lines wherever there are expats, particularly in the ME & Asia. Not very long ago (within the last decade) after one relocation my husband applied to join ‘the club’ and was accepted immediately. His British Asian colleague, similar job, same level, salary etc as my husband, was told sorry there was a waiting list for membership & it was unlikely he would be admitted within the next 2-3 years. When we found that out that we never bothered using it & let the membership lapse.

    • Lady London says:

      +1 Well done you.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Unfortunately still lots of discrimination across the globe. I actively Avoid France as I’ve always felt I got extra attention airports, walking down the street, Or zero attention (bars/restaurants)

      Do you mind me asking which country?

  • Lady London says:

    Well said @Nathan.

    What’s often overlooked is the British government’s oppression and exploitation of its own people at home, including in England, continuing well into the past century.

    It isnt only foreign peoples and colonies who have been appallingly treated by the British.

  • wee motto says:

    A lovely review. The Sindh club has been beautifully maintained and locals in Karachi are very proud of this place and their links to Britain. As a UK doctor, I have visited Karachi to support children’s surgery in a charity run hospital. The local guests took great pride in treating us to dinner at the Sindh club but the food was always Pakistani and delicious. The gardens are beautiful and a tranquil oasis in this bustling city. I would recommend a visit here even for dinner or drinks just the same as I always love a Singapore sling in Raffles !

  • Robert Hardless says:

    You can also use the facility if you are a member of the RAC. My grandfather was President back in 1935 of the club. It is an oasis in Karachi, which is always very frantic. Despite the colonial heritage it is a safe and tranquil place to stay. I was staying at the Islamabad Marriott in 2008 just before it was blown up (fortunately) so safety is a big concern in Pakistan.

  • mutley says:

    Most overseas clubs have reciprocal arrangements with British clubs, one of the best lists is the old NLP on the Thames, reasonable rates, a first class lunch to boot.

    As an aside, during the 90s on HMS Liverpool, the ship docked in Karachi, within 8 hours 90% of the ships crew were back on board, which was highly unusual, the place was a hole, and aptly named dog sh!t city by the matlows on board.

  • Aston100 says:

    What a dreadful article
    Barely a review; more like a nostalgic trip down memory lane.

  • The Savage Squirrel says:

    I didn’t like the review really at all as there was not much factual information about the facilities (literally one word on the rooms in a review of a place to sleep?). It was more a bad attempt at micro-travel-prose and it was obvious the reviewer has very different tastes and probably a very different world view to mine. That’s no problem of course – no two people have an identical view on everything. So, with that said I just don’t get the intolerance of the existence of a very different world perspective to your own displayed in some of the comments. By all means present a different view, but saying that a view that does not correspond with the prevailing consensus should not be published is straying into very dark territory. So well done Rob for publishing a review I dislike.

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