BRISTOL HOTEL Karchi was constructed by a Welshmen (name unknown) in 1910 near the Cantonment Railway Station-Karachi..parallel to the rail tracks between Karachi Cantt and Karachi City Railway Station. It neighbors the British Council now.
Initially a TAVERN & BISTRO for the affluent ones..mostly the high echelons and army officials under the British Raj of early 1900s.
The hotel was mostly the venue of the most talked about New Year parties, May Queen Ball and wedding parties and became the most popular place of Kolachi or Kurracchee then which continued till late 50’s when the Welshmen’s son Grout, left for UK selling it to
a Pakistani namely Rizvi Sahab, an I.T.O in 1960.
Karachi—in 60’s had hardly a few hotels..and the ones I remember, which were worth a stay; Metropole, Palace, Beach Luxury, Grand, Excelsior, Taj…with Intercontinental (now PC) the first 5 star in city…commencing its operations from 2nd May-1961 with Bernard Holt
as it’s first ever GM !
Mr. Rizvi maintained the grandeur of BRISTOL and it’s BAR and …particularly it’s cuisine which was, probably the best in Karachi and could not be beaten by the food served at the restaurants
of Metropole, Palace (where now stands Sheraton) and Agha’s Tavern (which use to be right behind Palace Hotel Annexe—bang opposite it’s hotel where the dilapidated building looks a haunted one now..adjacent to the PIDC building towards Chief Minister Sindh’s House.
People traveled from far and wide—to enjoy the cuisine at BRISTOL.
The New Year Parties and May Queen Ball continued with the same fervor and glamour. During 60’s the price tag of NYP entry for a couple was Rs.300 (close to Rs.15k of today).
The scribe has attended two new year GTs at Bristol in 1968 and 1969. Rizvi Uncle being my dad’s colleague—and a close friend—was like a family. His brother, then, was one of the famous doctors of Karachi; Aaley Zamin Rizvi. He had a clinic near Regal Cinema-Karachi.
BRISTOL continued to attract affluent Karachi-ites for it’s cuisine basically while the huge rooms with roushandaans and the lush green garden with Saturday Night Discos and Night Club was par excellence…where groups from Thailand, Germany and France were in attendance which was adopted by the Minwallas of Metropole for their ever popular SAMAR night club and dine out of the 70’s.. on the
ground floor entrance facing Café Grand…where we also had UBL Hotel
Metropole Branch on the left side and the famous travel agency GERRYs on the right.
BRISTOL Hotel breathed it’s last when it was attacked by some dacoits
and Mr. Rizvi suffering injuries in 1994 which re-occurred within six months that Rizvi Sahab was kind of forced to call it quits.
BUT…the building of BRISTOL hotel..a landmark and solid construction of 1910 still stands tall..as a home now.
It is said that American movie star—DONNA REED has stayed at BRISTOL sometime in 1961 during her overnight visit to Karachi enroute to Cairo on the arrangement by PAN AMERICAN airlines which used to house it’s crew at Malir’s GRAND Hotel of Minwallas, near Karachi Stargate Airport of 1935.
It was after 3 decades that I visited BRISTOL HOTEL for recording of
Adnan Wai Qureshi’s serial last month and a lot of golden memories wreaked out which I thought to share with you all