Faletti’s Hotel is one of the oldest hotels on this Grand Tour; one that has remained more or less in its original form, and with its original name since its inception, and more than 100 years.
The hotel was established in 1880 by an Italian gentleman, Andrea Faletti, who also ran 3 other major hotels – Dean’s Hotel Peshawar, Flashman’s Hotel Rawalpindi and Cecil Hotel Murree. It was the oldest hotel in Lahore, and up until the 1970s, the most prestigious, playing host to politicians, celebrities and heads of state. It was and continues to be situated on Egerton Road, just off Mall Road.
Faletti’s was also known for being the initial training grounds for one Mohan Singh (or M.S.) Oberoi, who was clerk at Faletti’s. He would go on to establish the Oberoi chain of hotels – today one of the most important chains of historic luxury hotels in India and the world.
In 1942, M.S. Oberoi’s Oberoi Group took over the management of Faletti’s and its three other sister hotels. This period also saw one of the hotel’s most famous guests – Ava Gardner, who came and stayed in a suite here for 3 months. The suite she stayed in continues to be named after her.
The Oberoi Group would go on to manage Faletti’s post-Partition, and in the aftermath of the independence of India and Pakistan. However, in 1865, in the midst of the Indo-Pakistan War, Faletti’s and its sister hotels were seized by the Pakistani Government as “enemy property” and nationalised.
Most recently in 2006, after successive efforts at privatising the hotel, Faletti’s was put up for sale and bought by an Abu Dhabi-based company. Following a major restoration, it was re-opened in 2013. Though the condition of the suites is passable, they are far from what would be considered five-star quality today.
In fact, the title of Lahore’s Grand Hotel would have to go to the gargantuan Pearl Continental Hotel on Mall Road, not so far from Faletti’s. During my time in Lahore, I actually stayed in both Faletti’s and the “PC Hotel” (so-called by Lahoris), just to get a taste of historic and contemporary luxury in the city.
That said, Faletti’s retains its reputation as one of the most prestigious hotels in the city, and continues to be popular for weddings and other major events. It is able to accommodate these weddings and events through the construction of large event halls just behind the main building.
What is most important, however, is that in the course of 140 years of its history, and through all the changes to Faletti’s management structure and façade, the hotel has managed to retain its original name.
With this post, my multi-year Grand Tour of not only the Port and Princely Cities of the Subcontinent, but of the whole of the East, comes to an end, finally.