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Vintage Vibes & Untold Histories of 8 Heritage Kolkata Bungalows Where You Can Stay Too

Here is a list of eight heritage and vintage bungalows in Kolkata that hold windows to the past and make for a unique stay if you ever visit the erstwhile capital of India.

Vintage Vibes & Untold Histories of 8 Heritage Kolkata Bungalows Where You Can Stay Too

Kolkata is a city that has both watched and played a role in India’s evolution during the colonial era. And it has a story to tell to anyone who will listen. 

The voices of culture and history echo in its monuments, its cobbled streets, its memorials and most importantly in the heritage bungalows left behind

From divans that date back centuries to the famed Burma teak furnishings, these heritage stays hold secrets of the past, peeks into simpler times, and a magic of their own.  

Here’s a list of such heritage bungalows converted into luxury hotels, or left as they were, where you can experience an otherworldly charm. 

1. Calcutta Bungalow

Calcutta Bungalow, a heritage luxury boutique hotel in Kolkata
Calcutta Bungalow, Picture credits: Calcutta Bungalow website

Around 1790, the British had established their colonies in pockets of Kolkata, also known as White Town. On the other side where Indians lived, Black Town, became abundant with palaces, luxury bungalows and more built by wealthy Bengalis. 

Today, Calcutta Bungalow, which stands tall in this part of town, is an ode to the architecture that prevailed during the time. In its current form, it is a restored 1920s townhouse constructed with an “ancient formula that involved mixing jaggery, wood apple pulp, fenugreek seeds as well as betel nuts among other things”.  

Book your stay here

2. Glenburn Penthouse 

Glenburn Penthouse, a luxury heritage homestay in Kolkata
Glenburn Penthouse, Picture credits: Glenburn Penthouse website

Guests who stay at the Glenburn Penthouse wake up to palatial views of the neighbouring streets, while relaxing in divans made in typical Bengali style. Enjoy a cup of tea on the verandah overlooking Victoria Memorial, or snuggle in a Burma teak four-poster bed, during your stay here.  

Even the wallpaper will remind you of bygone days, with its ‘Hindoostan’ design that was created in Paris. 

Book your stay here

3. Raajkutir

Raajkutir, a heritage homestay in Kolkata built in traditional Bengali architectural style
Raajkutir, Picture credits: Raajkutir website

The architecture at this heritage space resembles the sprawling homes of wealthy landowners — the ‘Raajbaris’ are built around an Uthon (courtyard) with lions flanking the entrance. The old banyan tree, with sacred threads of the majestic rural Botthhtola, still stands tall — a symbol of welcome in the 19th century. 

Every corner of the luxury space is reminiscent of olden times, the vintage artefacts, chequered marble flooring, Kota stone tiling and the art. As you admire these, the folk Baoul singers’ chants echo in the walls of the hotel.  

Book your stay here

4. The Elgen Fairlawn 

At the junction of Madge Lane and Sudder Street is a building constructed in the 1780s by European William Ford. The house has, through history, been referred to as pukka, pointing to its brick construction, in contrast to the coconut palm and mud homes that prevailed in those years.  

It bears mentioning that the home has passed down through many generations, each of which has added a special touch. The most recent owner was Mrs Jennifer Ann Fowler before it was acquired by the Elgin Hotels & Resorts in 2018. 

Situated in a prime spot, the 100-year-old New Market area is just a two-minute walk from the hotel. There’s always something to do at this heritage home.  

Book your stay here

5. Leader’s Legacy Heritage Homestay

Pride yourself on being a guest at the homestay that has welcomed the likes of Mahatma Gandhi, Ravi Shankar, and Indira Gandhi. Built in the 1900s, the bungalow is the residence of former West Bengal CM Siddhartha Shankar Ray. The library is a treasure house of the minister’s favourites.  

His niece Ilina Chanda, also the host, loves welcoming guests and treating them to a conversation about the heritage bungalow. 

Book your stay here.

6. Bawali Rajbari 

Bawali Rajbari, a 300 year old heriatge property in Kolkata
Bawali Rajbari, Picture credits: Bawali Rajbari website

At the 300-year-old heritage boutique hotel, each room is designed in a way that borrows inspiration from different elements of Bengali architecture. 

Whilst you are here, you can choose to stay in the Classic Heritage — with its four poster beds decked in Bengali style and teak decor; Notun Bari — a similarly styled room but overlooking the pond on the property; Zamindari Suite — with its divans and original art that dates back decades; Royal Suite — with its palatial space, high ceilings, and luxe furnishings; or Dak Bungalow — with the foyer and kitchenette, done up in Bengali style with the curved chala roofs and rosewood furniture. 

At the Piano Restaurant, gorge on a variety of dishes of Mughal, British, Portuguese, Armenian, Jewish and Bangladeshi origins. 

Book your stay here.  

7. Itachuna Rajbari 

Itachuna Rajbari, built by ancestors of the Kundu dynasty
Itachuna Rajbari, Picture credits: Itachuna Rajbari website

The years spanning 1742 to 1752 saw the Marathas attacking Bengal to collect ‘Chauth’ or the tax. While these attacks stopped after the assassination of Mir Habib, the Marathas settled in Bengal, beginning trade and amassing wealth. The Itachuna Rajbari was built by one such Maratha ancestor, Shri Safallya Narayan Kundu, belonging to the Kundu dynasty. 

Evenings at the Rajbari are filled with activity. There is a guided tour around that lets tourists experience life at a slow pace while attending the aarti at the temple, flute sessions and bonfires at night. 

Book your stay here.

8. Corner Courtyard 

Corner Courtyard, an abandoned hosue since 1904 has been converted into a luxury hotel
Corner Courtyard, Picture credits: Corner Courtyard website

The last residents here were a rich zamindar family in 1904 before the home was abandoned. Today it has been turned into a heritage hotel. The colour scheme used in the rooms is an ode to the city, with each reflecting a different side of town. 

For instance, crimson depicts the brick red buildings dotting the city landscape, while viridian celebrates the Eden Gardens of Kolkata, the famed cricket stadium. Charcoal is inspired by the monochrome films of Satyajit Ray, while cadmium matches the yellow taxis of the city. 

Indigo is an ode to the East India Company, and ivory takes inspiration from the marble hues of the Victoria Memorial. To represent the red that the city is bathed in during the festivities of Durga Puja, vermillion is also used.  

Book your stay here

Enjoy Kolkata’s Vintage Charms At These Boutique Hotels by Piyali Sen, Published on 7 May 2022.

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