The Elgin Fairlawn Hotel in Kolkata, India

by Santorini Dave • Updated: July 1, 2019

Review of The Elgin Fairlawn in Kolkata, India.

The Elgin Fairlawn – Adorable guesthouse with history and charm that 5-star hotels cannot buy.

This delightfully old-fashioned guesthouse still seems stuck in the old colonial days. Along Sudder Street, a renowned backpacker area slowly becoming gentrified, the charisma of this 225-year-old building is evident from the stairwells lined with old photos and guest lounges filled with antique furniture. Adding immeasurably to the appeal are the dining room with chandeliers and tablecloths, shady courtyard café, and communal balcony providing wicker chairs and street views. Some of the wonderfully old-style rooms probably need updating, but all are spacious and comfortable. Furthermore, the inner-city area, handy to the metro and Indian Museum, is comparatively pleasant.

The Elgin Fairlawn, Kolkata – The Location

  • Address: 13A Sudder Street, about 250m from a major thoroughfare (Jawaharlal Nehru Road which turns into Chowringhee Road) in an inner-city suburb. The Indian Museum is a major landmark at the corner of Jawaharlal Nehru Road and Sudder Street.
  • Area: A fun area that’s far cleaner, safer, and less crowded than most of Kolkata. The street features plenty of places to eat and drink for westerners, a few agencies changing money and arranging train tickets, and some colonial-era buildings.
  • How to Get There: Taxis from the pre-paid counters at the airport take 45-55 minutes (22km). From the main railway station (Howrah), the hotel is about 20 minutes (5km) by taxi. See Local Transport below for more information about taxis and the metro.
  • Handy to: Indian Museum.

The Elgin Fairlawn, Kolkata – The Basics

  • Guests: Most guests are older and appreciate the history and old-fashioned setting.
  • Views: In an old building where views didn’t matter at the time. Many rooms have frosted windows facing outside and offering no views at all. A few facing the front overlook the pretty garden and courtyard.
  • Private Pools/Jacuzzis: Not expected or provided at an old guesthouse like this in Kolkata.
  • Wi-Fi: Free throughout for all guests.
  • How to Book: Booking.com will have the best rates.
  • Phone: +91 (0)33 2252 1510
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Website: elginhotels.com

The Elgin Fairlawn, Kolkata – Amenities

  • Pool, Spa, & Fitness Center: Not expected or provided.
  • Other Facilities: Guest lounges. Laundry.

The Elgin Fairlawn, Kolkata – Food and Drink

  • Restaurants & Bar: The Lobby Lounge – Graceful setting, perfect for chatting with other guests. Also with seating in a shady courtyard. • The Dining Room – Colonial-era décor of chandeliers, tablecloths, and walls packed with old photos. Breakfast, high teas every afternoon, and tasty meals all day.
  • Breakfast: Full English breakfast included in all rates.
  • Room Service: Available between about 7.30 am and 9 pm.

The Elgin Fairlawn, Kolkata – Rooms

  • Room Types: No categories of rooms, just ‘singles’ and ‘doubles/twins’.
  • Smoking Rooms: No smoking in the rooms or public areas, but permitted in dedicated sections.
  • Best Room: Rooms are fairly similar inside, with either single or double/twin beds. The quietest are those on the upper floor and furthest from the reception area and dining room.
  • For Families: No space in the rooms for an extra single bed, so the only option is 2 adjoining rooms (which won’t have connecting doors).

The Elgin Fairlawn, Kolkata – Local Transport

  • Walking: One of the nicest and most interesting areas anywhere in Kolkata, where top-end boutiques share street space with market traders. Some homeless people closer to the Indian Museum, but locals are used to foreigners.
  • Public Transport: Buses and trams career along the main road about 250m away but are of no use to tourists. The guesthouse is halfway (about 700m) between 2 stations for the Kolkata Metro: Esplanade (8-minute walk north along the main road) and Park Street (8-minute walk south). The metro provides a couple of useful stops to avoid jam-packed sidewalks, but won’t connect to the airport and main railway station (Howrah) until at least mid-2021.
  • Taxis & Auto-rickshaws: Plenty of yellow taxis (with no air-con) and blue-and-white ones (with air-con) for longer trips. Both types have meters, but drivers need to be pressured into using them. Rides can also be booked using Uber and Ola apps. Inexplicable lack of auto-rickshaws in the area, but man-pulled versions available for short trips.

The Elgin Fairlawn, Kolkata – What’s Nearby?

Restaurants & Bars

    Fabulous selection of budget-priced restaurants where pizzas rather than pakoras dominate the menus.

  • Blue Sky Café – Long-time favorite for all types of western meals, as well as the usual Indian fare. Just 50m (heading away from the museum). 1-minute walk.
  • Lytton Hotel – This old-fashioned hotel offers Gaylords Restaurant (changing menu of Indian, Chinese, and western delights), Garden Restaurant (shady courtyard overlooking the street, with barbecues and cocktails during evenings), and Sunset Bar (cheerful and welcoming). 100m towards the Indian Museum. 1-minute walk.
  • Kasturi Restaurant – One of several across Kolkata for unfussy Indian food at reasonable prices in a clean setting. 2-minute walk (180m).
  • Zaranj – At the corner opposite the Indian Museum. Plush and pricey, the menu is tempting and the service, impeccable. 2-minute walk (200m).

Shops

  • Sudder Street is lined with interesting shops, as much for foreign tourists as Indian locals. The alleys off Sudder are also packed with market stalls. An attraction for some are the helpful (and rare) travel agencies which can arrange train tickets and change money.

Attractions

  • The must-see Indian Museum is the country’s largest and oldest. It houses a world-class collection of ancient artifacts from India and beyond, along with Raj-era relics housed in an occasionally frustrating manner. Open from 10 am to 6.30 pm on weekdays and until 8 pm on weekends. On the main road at the turnoff to Sudder Street, 250m away. 3-minute walk.
  • Mother House – Also known as Missionaries of Charity, it houses the tomb of Mother Teresa as well as her photographs, awards, articles, and belongings. The description of work done by her charity is eye-opening. 13-minute drive (1.8km).
  • Victoria Memorial – Kolkata’s most popular attraction, this opulent British-era white marble replica of the original Victoria Memorial in London was built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s 25-year rule of India. In addition to lush gardens, statues, and sculptures, there are sound and light shows from March to June (7:45 pm). Open daily from 11 am to 4pm. 15-minute drive (4km).
  • Howrah Bridge – This famous Kolkata landmark is the world’s busiest and sixth biggest cantilever bridge. Built in 1943, it connects Kolkata with the important Howrah Station, and features wide footpaths full of pedestrians on both sides. 20-minute drive (5km).
  • Dakshineswar Kali Temple – Historic Hindu temple, built in 1855, featuring a vast courtyard, 12 shrines dedicated to Shiva, a Radha-Krishna temple, and a bathing ghat by the riverfront. 1-hour drive (14km).

The Elgin Fairlawn, Kolkata – The Hotel

The guesthouse is located on quiet Sudder Street in the city center.

The guesthouse is along Sudder Street, a quiet and well-known lane in the city center.

The historic guesthouse has been popular with independent travelers for decades.

Originally built in 1783, The Elgin has been a favorite among independent travelers for decades.

The courtyard café serves coffee, cakes, and light meals.

Between the front gate and main building, the courtyard café offers coffee, cakes, and light meals.

The courtyard café is very popular.

The courtyard café at The Elgin is a popular hangout and welcome respite.

The guesthouse has an incomparable hisorical charm.

The guesthouse exudes a historical charm that 5-star hotels cannot even begin to emulate.

The Lobby Lounge has a magnificent historical vibe.

The Lobby Lounge opposite the reception desk sets the tone for this historical guesthouse.

The Dining Room also has a delightful colonial-era decor.

The Dining Room at The Elgin features a delightful colonial-era décor.

The guesthouse is filled with antique furniture and photos.

Guests can spend hours admiring the antique furniture and inspecting the photos on the walls throughout the guesthouse.

The upstairs guest lounge is a wonderful place to relax.

The guest lounge upstairs is another wonderful place to relax in and chat with fellow guests.

The Balcony Lounge offers street views from wicker chairs.

Adding further to the appeal is The Balcony Lounge on the upper floor providing wicker chairs and street views.

The guesthouse maintains the same green tone, style, and decor throughout.

The style and décor has been wonderfully maintained throughout.

The stairwell too is fascinating.

Even the stairwell is packed with fascinating old photos.

The very comfortable rooms are pleasantly old-fashioned.

Rooms are likably old-fashioned and very comfortable.

The delightful rooms could be renovated.

Some rooms probably need renovations but are still delightful.

The magnificent Indian Museum is at the corner of Sudder Street.

The turnoff to Sudder Street from the main road is dominated by the magnificent Indian Museum.

Wesleyan Chapel is one of few colonial buildings on Sudder Street.

Sudder Street is home to a few colonial buildings, such as the Wesleyan Chapel.

The area around the guesthouse entrance is more pleasant than near the Indian Museum.

Near the Indian Museum, some people run food stalls during the day and sleep on the street during the night, but the area near the guesthouse entrance is more pleasant.

Sudder Street alleys have several market stalls.

The alleys off Sudder Street are crammed with market stalls.

Sudder Street offers several facilities for backpackers and foreign tourists.

Sudder Street has long been a favorite hangout area for backpackers. There are facilities like money changers and travel agencies which are surprisingly hard to find elsewhere in the city.

The refined Zaranj bistro is opposite the Indian Museum.

Zaranj is a refined bistro at the turnoff to Sudder Street and opposite the Indian Museum.

The Lytton Hotel has the cheerful Sunset Bar.

The Sunset Bar at the nearby Lytton Hotel is far more cheerful than most other bars in the city.

The Garden Restaurant is terrific for eating and drinking.

Also at the Lytton, the Garden Restaurant is a terrific place for a meal or drink.

Sudder Street restaurants are focused more on foreign tourists than locals.

All sorts of restaurants along Sudder Street cater more for foreign tourists than Indian locals.

Kasturi restaurant nearby serves Indian food in a clean setting.

About 200m from the guesthouse, Kasturi is a decent restaurant offering Indian food in a clean setting.

Blue Sky Café opposite Kasturi is a crowd favorite.

Blue Sky Café is another long-time favorite close by.

Human rickshaws still operate in the general area.

One way to get around the local area is on the sort of old-fashioned rickshaws banned in many other Indian cities.

Read More

Free Travel Guides

Get free travel guides and maps.

Coming soon: Paris, Santorini, Mykonos, London, Rome, Florence, Venice, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Istanbul, Dubai, Singapore, Bali, Bangkok, Koh Samui, Phuket, Hong Kong, Kyoto, Tokyo, NYC, Las Vegas, Hawaii, Cancun, Tulum

Get Started Here!