The months of July and August is probably the best time to pay a weekend visit to Mumbai. Why? Because it’s monsoon and it’s the season when the ever-busy city halts for a bit to come closer to nature. It might sound like a cliché but there is a certain magic about Mumbai monsoon which is why, if you are bored of the sweltering heat of the UAE, it is worthwhile to jet into Maximum City to indulge in the rains.
Strangely, not many people would consider Mumbai as a destination for a break but if it’s an adrenalin rush that you are looking for, there is no better place to get it than the financial and glamour capital of India. Be it discovering the glitzy new pubs, malls and lounges that dot the suburbs or soaking in the old world (and thankfully still existing) charm of South Bombay, Mumbai has an energy that is unique and original.
No place perhaps symbolizes this better than the majestic Taj Mahal Palace and Towers in Colaba, the nearly 100 year hotel that has almost become a leitmotif of everything that Mumbai stands for. If Taj Colaba is the last word in old world grandeur, its latest luxurious addition in the suburbs can be the synonym for the young, bustling and energetic new world. Taj Santacruz, standing a few metres away from the international airport with most rooms facing the runway, is a perfect welcome into Mumbai, celebrating its cosmopolitan spirit. The sight of flights taking off and touching down, from such close quarters, gives a strange sense of journey and travel through time.
Room with runway view
The architecture and overall design itself reflects the Mumbai story with Art Deco elements, impressive chandeliers and jali-esque patterns, and an interesting collection of paintings dotting the property, all of which pay homage to the city’s rich past and shining present.
Taj Santacruz occupies the luxury-meets-business space and given its proximity to the airport, it’s quite ideal if you want to breeze in and out of the city for a meeting or two. With 279 elegant rooms and suites, each one boasting of understated luxury but with state-of-the-art amenities (your wifi, work area, entertainment zone etc without which no modern traveller feels complete!), your needs are more than well taken care of. Of course, you miss the sweeping views of the Mumbai skyline but well, it can’t be helped. Suburban Mumbai is a little short of romance after all!
The stlyish lobby
If there is one reason we recommend a stay at this property, it is this. Keeping in tune with the warmth that that the group is known for, the many little gestures that the staff indulge you with, makes your stay memorable. From a personal butler to look after your every need to simple gestures like a personalized chocolate name plate in your room, from thoughtfully placing a floral cauldron in your room for a relaxing foot massage to some amazing massages in the spa, it’s got everything you need to soothe frayed nerves. And your nerves are definitely going to be on the edge if you negotiate the chaos and mad energy that defines Mumbai!
Do include some ‘me time’ on your trip to the city and thankfully, you don’t need to go anywhere else but sign up for a treatment at the luxurious Jiva Spa. The spa list is nothing too unusual (the list had international and Ayurvedic massages) but the ambiance and the hospitality was what made it a cut above the rest.
THE FOOD SCENE
One can do a full on food tour of Mumbai and there will still be plenty to cover. Taj Santacruz itself boasts of some fantastic restaurants. Tiqri, the all-day diner is a fine example. From an expansive breakfast menu, this global-meets-local restaurant offers everything from delicious street food from Maharashtra to Asian delicacies. Tiqri deserves a special mention also because of the massive ‘Tree of Life’ mural that lights up brilliantly at night, lending it a warm yet refined glow. The vibrant Rivea has fresh French cuisine and an awesome grape library on its platter while China Inc. has carved a niche with its impressive menu of Chinese dishes and specialty teas. Elaborate Indian and international cuisine is on offer, so if you are a foodie, you have plenty of options to choose from within the hotel itself.
MUMBAI IN A NEW LIGHT
If you want a break that’s truly different, here are some offbeat things to do in Mumbai.
· Explore Street Art in Bandra
Bandra is where half of Bollywood lives. If staring at Salman or Shah Rukh’s house doesn’t give you a high, take a walk in the lanes and bylanes and explore the stunning street art of the suburb. Another joy is to have breakfast in one of the several new quaint cafes that have sprung up here.
Watch a play at Prithvi
The open mic sessions at this old theatre is a joy to be part of. The venue is an integral part of the landscape of Mumbai but add a new twist to it by being part of the many workshops to stimulate your mind. Else, gorge on the keema parathas and hang out with the cool, arty types. And then go for a long walk on the Chowpatty beach.
The old favourites are still there but the suburbs have a long list of really cool lounges that must be explored. Social, Olive Bar & Kitchen, Bungalow 8, Silver Beach Café to name just a few are the places to go to if you want to really feel the pulse of the city.
We mean street shopping. Yes, Palladium and High Street Phoenix are where the brands are but what’s a trip without going to Hill Road, Linking Street, Crawford Market and the like?