The Somerset Hotel
Nestled in a narrow, bustling alley near the National Museum is Male’s latest boutique hotel, The Somerset Hotel. It began operations on 15th December last year and is brimming with guests, thanks in part to a slew of positive online reviews on popular booking sites.
The beige hotel rears up from its surroundings and is not difficult to spot once you enter the street from Chaandhanee Magu. Its interior is muted; the small lobby is easy on the eye, although the sounds of the busy alley filter through its glass doors to the seating area, which comprises high backed chairs and cylindrical wooden end tables. A large round mirror opposite the chairs is framed by a wooden sunburst. In the middle is a sun bleached driftwood sculpture that rises to the low ceiling, imbuing the place with an island ambience that compliments the overall design.
“The hotel was designed by a famous Thai architect, their number three I believe,” says Fareesha Hawwa, the General Manager, a small, energetic woman who tells me that they have been very busy since they opened. “The owners wanted a boutique style hotel, using lots of wood.”
The Somerset Hotel has two tiers of rooms; superior and deluxe. The compact superior rooms are cheerful, with white walls and beige flooring. Most of the space is taken up by a queen sized bed. The remaining area is populated by a small desk, chairs and a wardrobe. The windows are slatted and the view looks out on to the rooftops of nearby houses; these are not rooms with a view, a common pitfall of central Male’ accommodation. All rooms have attached bathrooms with the usual amenities. The complimentary bathrobes are a thoughtful touch. The deluxe rooms boast more space, with the entrance leading into a seating area, occupied by a brown sofa, in front of which sits a coffee table on a rug. On one side of the room is a dining table, which can double up as a workspace.
The bedroom is not much larger than a superior room, and mirrors it in most ways, but is of a different décor, with a white, beige and brown theme, and a painting adding a splash of colour to the room above the head of the bed. Deluxe rooms have two flat screen televisions, one in the sitting room and one in the bedroom, while superior rooms have one. Both types of rooms enjoy international direct dial phones and complimentary Wi-Fi.
The hotel provides a complete range of facilities expected of a four star hotel. Guests are picked up and dropped off at the airport without an additional charge. A private check-in facility is available for those who prefer not to wait in the lobby filling out forms. Housekeeping occurs twice daily, and the hotel offers a 24 hour laundry service. All of the hotel’s guest rooms have complimentary tea and espresso making facilities. Its mini bars, while bereft of alcohol, are stocked with premium brands of fresh juices, carbonated beverages and snacks. Guests can have their breakfast and snacks at the restaurant in the lobby. The hotel has also partnered up with a nearby fitness centre so that guests have complimentary access to the centre.
The more adventurous guests can take part in activities conducted by the hotel, which include escorted morning jogs, dive trips, a submarine ride and city excursions. The Somerset Hotel enjoys proximity to the jetty, cafes, and several places of interest, including the Islamic Centre, the Sultan Park, the local market and the souvenir shops that flank Chaandhanee Magu, so those who are a bit bolder could easily wander without a guide.
Thus far, the clientele of the hotel have been mostly business and transit guests, who stay an average of 2.5 nights. The hotel started off with an occupancy rate of 50-60 percent, but since January, has enjoyed 90-100 percent occupancy. “The secret,” Fareesha says, “is the quality of our product and service, and the value for money. This is evident from the reviews the hotel has received on booking sites such as agoda.com and booking.com.” She notes that the hotel has received most of its clients through online booking sites, for which positive reviews are essential. The Somerset Hotel’s challenge is thus very simple: maintaining their level of service.