An incredible mix of old and new, upscale and slums, modernity and the way things have always been done… all of which should not be missed.
As this was my first time in Mumbai and I was here for work, it was important that I stay near the center and closer to hospitals and medical colleges so I chose the ITC Grand Central (https://www.itchotels.in/hotels/mumbai/itcgrandcentral.html), a truly stunning hotel that isolates you, and insolates you, from the insane traffic just outside the door. The staff were amazing and the décor very calm and inviting. And as part of the Marriott chain, it makes it just a tad more attractive. (And if you can swing access to the Club Floor Lounge, do it; amazing breakfast in the morning, high tea in the afternoon, and cocktails before dinner.
If Marriott isn’t your thing, or you just want to try other options, the Oberoi chain in Asia is absolutely stunning! Price can be a challenge here but if you consider what I mentioned in my earlier post (https://www.oberoihotels.com/hotels-in-mumbai/), you might get an affordable price that is just worth a few rupees more!
If I only had one night in Mumbai – and honestly, if I had two, I would choose the same place! – you must go to The Bombay Canteen (http://thebombaycanteen.com/). Please, don’t be put off by the online pictures of the outside, and not get frightened when your car turns in to what appears to be a luxury mall; tucked in the back is this larger than expected restaurant with the most amazing staff, who are so helpful, and divine food! The bar is wonderful as well and I can attest to their classic cocktail skills. But it was the food: a slightly inventive take on Indian cuisine, but not so much of a take as to call it “nouveau” because, as you know, I don’t like pretentious anything.
I can also recommend Trishna (no website), another out of the way hotel that is truly an oasis on what appears to be a small side street, in a city of small side streets. The outside décor is all glitz and glamour – a bit over the top to be honest – whereas the inside is very small and minimalist. My taxi driver said it was the best fish restaurant in the city and although I don’t eat fish, I can guarantee that the veg dishes were top notch.
Mumbai is an amazing and diverse city spread out over unknown miles and the only real way to see the sites is via a tour. To be honest, my tour guide wasn’t the best – she was supposed to be with me 2 days but switched to another guide on the second day and neither really gave more detail than when a building was built – so I won’t provide any specifics here. But I will tell you that you must see the Gate of India, the Taj Hotel near the Gate, and most importantly, you must visit Elephanta Island. Every guide book will tell you this but, truly, it is imperative! But reader beware: the boat trip to the island is painfully slow with nothing to see, and upon arrival at Elephanta, even if you don’t pay the few rupees extra for the “tram” to the base of the UNESCO site, you will have to walk some steep steps to visit the monument. So bring plenty of bottled water!
And when you reach Elephanta Island, have your cameras ready: the monkeys are playing everywhere and they are too cute to describe.