The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel is a symbol of where Bombay has come from, and where she is going.
This is the hotel that’s home to celebrities when they visit the intoxicating city of Mumbai, from Oprah to Angelina Jolie, Sharon Stone, Tom Cruise, Sting, Mick Jagger, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Mumbai is a heaving metropolis of traffic, colour, markets, heat and dust. But there is a splendour and excitement about it all I haven’t seen in another Asian city. It is mesmerising – and this is the place to experience it all, in all its glory.
I’m yet to stay at a better hotel than this in Asia. The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel is a “Heritage Class” Hotel and the flagship property of Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces.
It’s the oldest hotel in Mumbai, and the most beautiful. So rarely does a property capture the grandeur and grace of yesteryear, and pull off the best in modern luxury hotel essentials and five star luxuries including service, food, interiors and fitness, but this one does on all levels, and has done since it opened in 1903.
Any Bombay local will proudly tell you the story of Jamseti Tata, who was apparently refused entry at the grandest hotel of the time, The Watsons Hotel (because he was coloured), and built his own hotel overlooking the Arabian sea in revenge. Although others have challenged that story and said Tata simply built it to create the grandest hotel in the land.
Whatever his motivation, the outcome has been a big success.
The architecture is an ambitious mix that works, including Florentine, Maharajah, and Victorian Gothic,with some Spanish and French inspired interiors.
Anyone who likes Raffles in Singapore will love this property. There are 560 rooms and 44 suites in the palace, 1600 staff including 36 butlers, in both the Palace and tower wing, but the palace is the only place to stay for the full “princess of the palace” experience.
The fact the world outside, just steps away from the property is a dusty, bustling, sea of traffic, sellers & noise only adds to the oasis- like beauty of the hotel.
Thee are 11 restaurants, with bars, poolside bites, and room service. This is quite literally a hotel you would be more than happy to spend at least 3 days & nights in & not leave.
The hotel has one of the best Japanese restaurants in Asia, Wasabi by Morimoto, a great place to spot celebrities.
The restaurant & bar by the pool is sublime from morning to night. It’s one of the most elegant locations in Mumbai for a cocktail, tea or yoga class, let alone a swim.
Cocktails are served within a walled garden by the pool, the Bombay buzz can be heard distantly from outside, whilst you sit in peace and tranquility. There is no shortage of staff in every restaurant, and corner of the hotel.
The breakfast area belongs in the South of France, it is so airy, light & European in feel. White beach-style sails adorn the roof, there’s a pleasant stone -walled outdoor terrace, which is as romantic as it is pretty.
The breakfast buffet is astonishing, as is the service. The only negative is that it’s impossible not to overeat.
Even the green tea served in my room arrived with the most delicate, delicious home style fine sesame biscuits, and a fresh flower.
Attention to detail is paramount here.On my final night fresh flowers were left on the floor of my room.
Morning yoga is exceptional & held at 730am daily under sky high nets which protect the property from the huge birds flying overhead.
There’s a sense of peace doing yoga in the lush surrounds of the gardens and a luxury hotel when this bustling city is just waking up. The instructor during my time there was Oprah’s former teacher & excellent. Plus it’s complimentary for guests.
The fitness centre is brilliant with plenty of equipment, a sauna, and spa & staff who offer to stretch you after a session.There are markets walking distance away, Crawford Market and Chor Bazaar.
Raffles Singapore is currently under renovation, I hope the developers have stayed here, as there are so many insights into how to capture the charm of days gone by, and the essence of luxury modern hotels.