Now when visiting the city, you have to choose which spot you’re going to stay in carefully. Mumbai is not a small town, it’s the most populated city in India; and with that comes logistical nightmares getting around.
So we opted for Juhu, which is ideally near to the beach, as well as close to some fantastic food spots It is also in close proximity to the shopping areas. Breakfast for most of us is very important as well, and so staying at the JW Marriott, we were lucky as we had a huge choice of some amazing treats. The selection ranged from stuffed paratha to all kinds of dosa. To our overall amazement there is a large variety of Indian food first thing in the morning. Spice and taste to kickstart the day is what we need in Mumbai, so the breakfast is perfect. Even if you choose to stay elsewhere, you can pay to just have breakfast at the JW Marriott.
After our satisfying breakfast, we headed down to Colaba area, which hosts some historic buildings and architecture, such as the Gateway of India and the famous Taj Hotel.
As mentioned earlier, getting around Mumbai is a challenge. So with that in mind, we took an Uber across to the other side of the city which took a good hour, for a very reasonable price of under £10. Tip: With Uber in Mumbai, you are able to choose multiple stops in the day, which gives you your own personal driver at a minimal cost, so do check it out if it’s worthwhile. But we just opted to walk around. The Taj Hotel, which has always been famous for its prestige and hospitality, is a great place to have afternoon tea with a great selection of food at a very reasonable price, as well as to have a nose around some of the outlets it hosts. Directly outside the hotel, you have a fantastic view of the Gateway of India, which was built during the colonial times. As a standalone, it looks very impressive and you can see just why it symbolises the city of Mumbai. If you are not one for the crowds, then you can benefit from the same view directly from the restaurant where the afternoon tea is held. We just love that view!
Whilst in Coloba, our next stop had to be the world-famous Leopold’s Cafe, which is just behind the Taj Hotel. It is a hotspot for all, and it has a character all of its own. We were surrounded by literally everyone else who had been drawn to the cafe, both local residents and tourists. The cafe is surprisingly cheap. I mean, if you want a good, hearty meal, it is a great place to go and feed yourself for under £10. One of us in the group had an obsession with daal makhani and paneer masala, and Leopold’s Cafe certainly satisfied the craving. Regarding the cafe itself, it still has the bullet holes in the wall and ceiling of the tragic day when terror struck Mumbai, but this only makes you realise what it is about this city that makes it so resilient.
The area around Colaba is worth a walk to go visit the UNESCO site of the Victoria station which is now named Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, which we believe resembles Kings Cross Station in London. The terminal is one of beauty and a great place to walk around both inside and out. If you are a museum lover, there are many in the area of Churchgate.
As you will come to realise, one of the best things about Mumbai is food. The taste and choice ranges from inexpensive street food to gourmet dinners at some fantastic restaurants. Now just like most tourists in India, You have to be cautious about where to eat, because let’s face it, no one likes to be sentenced to the bathroom, and finding places to ‘go’ can be quite interesting! So having the urge for street food, we headed to Bandra West, where there is a place called Elco Market, a popular and hygienic street food place. The place has an outdoor area, where they sell pau bhaji and pani puri (all Mumbai and Indian favourites). The pani puri is made in front of you and it’s so fascinating to watch how it is served. The food is within everyone’s budget and the best thing is that it is food you can eat without worrying too much about ending up with a sensitive belly.
Once you are done with eating, it’s important to relax and soak up the sights in the evening, at a rooftop bar. Now in keeping with the theme, we headed to Aer bar at the Four Seasons rooftop, which is situated in Upper Worli. The bar has a great atmosphere, and depending on the time of day, it is fairly easy to get a table without a wait. Drinks are fairly priced, but it’s more the view which you pay for; you get to see the entire city of Mumbai, which is very impressive, especially if the haze stays clear. The bar has a great white decor with a DJ playing house music with a bit of a commercial mix, which is great to enjoy with friends. And as the bar is near to other clubs and bars, it is ideal for a pre-drink or two.
I know it sounds like a crazy day, but the best thing about running around in this huge city was being able to enjoy a massage and just relax near the beach the next day.
So just another reminder, always choose your location carefully.
(Please note since this blog was originally published, there have been a few changes in the rules of drinking alcohol at rooftop bars such as Aer. Please click here to read more in our second Mumbai blog) if you are from Mumbai and you know Aer and other rooftops are now serving alcohol again let us know, we welcome comments.
Other great tips on where to wine and dine in Mumbai are as follows : –
Ziya – Fine Indian, Oberoi Hotel
Lima (Atul) – South American, Bandra East
NRI (Atul) – Indian from the World, Bandra East
Masala Bar – Bar, Bandra West
Shree Thaker Bhojanalay – Gujarati, Kalbadevi
Cafe Madras – South Indian, Matunga
Masala Library – Masterchef Fine Dining, Bandra
Ideal Corner – Parsi, Fashion Street
Hakkasan – Cantonese, Linking Road
The Bombay Canteen – Indian Fine, Lower Parel
Olive – Mediterranean, Pali Hill
Salt Water Cafe – European, Bandra / Churchgate
Spice Klub – Veg Science, Lower Parel
Masala Bar – Cocktail (Bandra)
Social – various locations but the one in Khar is surround by other great bars ideal for a night out.
And use the Eazy Diner app or website to book your table at most of these places (earn points which can then be used to claim rewards at the end – helpful if in India for a while or a frequent visitor).