Mumbai is the commercial and financial centre of India, and the centre of the Bollywood film industry. It is a bustling and frenetic city and home to nearly 20million people - tycoons and slum-dwellers and everyone in between. Built on seven islands, the city forms a long peninsular.
Where you choose to stay must depend firstly on what you are there for. The city stretches some 40km north/south and the traffic is very slow. One thing is for sure: India possesses great hotels and the service is impeccable – to the point sometimes where you long to be left alone! A famous Sanskrit versee says ‘Atithi Devo Bhav’ which translates as 'Your Guest is Your God', and they mean it. The larger hotels boast personal butler service, and many of the smaller ones do too. Pillow & quilt menus are also found in many hotels.
Hotels in Mumbai reflect the city’s status as a business centre; there are no homestays and few good ‘boutique’ hotels. Prices can vary a lot depending on the time of year.
South Mumbai, where the ‘old money’ is found, is rich in history and the heart of the tourist district. The Gateway of India, which beckoned visitors to the country in the days of the Raj, sits alongside The Taj Mahal Palace, one of it’s most famous hotels. On the west side of the peninsular is Marine Drive – known as The Queen’s Necklace because streetlamps illuminate it’s elegant curve – and along it are many of the city’s top hotels, interspersed with tired art deco apartment blocks. The city spreads out behind – crumbling Victorian buildings, many currently being restored, stand alongside shiny, mirrored office blocks.
Travelling north, the Bandra Worli Seak Link joins South Mumbai to the bustling and bursting suburb of Bandra (getting in to ‘new money’ here) – home to many of the newly rich, with excellent shopping. To the east of Bandra, banks, pharmaceutical and software companies (and soon the American Consulate) have relocated to Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) and it is growing fast. Here you can avoid the congestion of South Mumbai, and BKC is just 13km from the International airport and 8km from the domestic airport.
Further north still is Juhu Beach, the trendy celebrity spot for the rich and famous, close to the home of the Bollywood production studios, and beyond is Malad where the grist of the back-office and call-centre companies carry on 24/7.
There’s plenty to keep leisure visitors occupied for at least two or three days, mainly around The Fort and Colaba districts in the south, where there are excellent walking tours. For a Bollywood tour, you will need to head north. The order by which the hotels are listed bears no reflection on our preference.
Huge, plush and ultra-comfortable contemporary hotel on Nariman Point. Exceptional views out to see and over Marine Drive. Floor to ceiling windows, marble floors, and rich furnishings. A smart tourist attraction in itself with its many high quality boutiques.
Designed to have the last word in opulence and luxury. The Taj’s reputation remains intact and is now much of a tourist attraction in itself. It sits looking out to see over the Gateway of India. A timeless classic with artworks, beautiful gardens, and a world-class restaurant.
Mumbai (Appolo Bunder)
Comfortable, small and stylish in an excellent location in the old town of Colaba. Simple-chic Mediterranean style rooms, delightful noodle bar, and its very own nightclub - Polly Esther's.
Mumbai (135 Netaji Subhash Road)
Smaller and cosier than the other big hitters, but equally luxurious. Spacious contemporary rooms with excellent views. Famous Dome bar on the roof top with unrivalled views over Marine Drive. Popular Thai restaurant Koh and fabulous roof top pool. Chic and intimate.
Mumbai (Bandra Kurla Complex,)
Smart and stylish hotel in Mumbai's commercial district. Well appointed guest rooms and suites, a wide range of restaurants, a relieving outdoor swimming pool, fantastic spa and a fitness centre. Its location and extensive conference facilities make it ideal for business trips.
Mumbai (Shastri Nagar)
Swedish, urban, trendy hotel in the suburbs. State-of-the art rooms with all the mod cons in minimalist style. Award-winning cuisine and roof top dining area. Great business facilities too. A stylish spot for business and leisure travellers.
Mumbai (Hanuman Nagar, Pali Hill)
Petit boutique hotel close to the fashion, film and media world in the suburb of Khar. A relaxed oasis set back from the bustle. Excellent Mediterranean food, lovely rooms, and artistic ambience. A characterful gem set apart from the usually super modern hotels.
A good 3-star option close to all the tourist attractions in Colaba. Value for money in a prime spot. Clean simple rooms - the triple rooms are good for groups.
A charming rural retreat from the city of Mumbai