When I knew I was heading to Mumbai, there was only one hotel I knew I wanted to check into. The Taj Mahal Palace. It’s the Taj groups flagships property, their jewel in the crown and for good reason.
Located right on the Mumbai front bay and nestled by the Gateway of India, it’s a 5* hotel of heritage luxury!
This palace goes way back in Indias history books and big names such as Queen Elizabeth II, Obama and even John Lennon have stayed here. It is the perfect accompaniment to your Mumbai trip and you won’t regret the pennies.
Here’s a guide to checking into the Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai.
A bit of history
The hotel was built in 1903 by Jamsetji Tata. A pioneer Indian industrialist. If you weren’t aware, Tata is one of the biggest companies in the world today and the biggest conglomerate in India; and it all started with him.
Tata decided to build the hotel in reaction to the fact that he wasn’t allowed in the other Grand hotels in the city at the time. The reason being that he was Indian and it was “whites only”.
Well, this is the legend anyway. Others say that it was the key to what Bombay needed at the time. Either way, I don’t think he realised how famous this hotel would become.
This hotel also holds the title for a lot of firsts. They were the first to have electricity, American fans and English butlers. The first licensed bar in the city, India’s first all day restaurant and the first ‘discotheque’ in India.
Back then a room would cost you 13 rupees a night or 20 rupees full board – what a dream!
The Taj Mahal Palace is based in Colaba which is by the Front Bay harbour. If you’re heading here from the airport you can easily get a pre-paid taxi to your location which is around 700 rupees. This includes the toll bridge cost.
You’ll drive in and see magnificent views of the ocean drive as you head into the south of the city.
If you’re arriving by train you’ll pull into the Terminus station which is the perfect location for the Palace.
Grab a black and yellow cab from the outside of the station if you don’t want to make the walk. Make sure you insist that the meter is on to pay a local fair price. Some taxi drivers will refuse and expect you to pay their requested fee (which is much higher). If this is the case, move onto the next taxi.
Well, you’ll know when you’ve arrived here as you’ll receive a royal welcome fit for a queen! The staff will sit you down in there comfortable lounge, check you in on their flash iPads and escort you up to their suites.
The hotel is split into the historical palace wing and the modern tower wing. The palace wing will have all the expensive hotel rooms and heritage suites while the tower has the more budget priced options. Either one you stay in, you will have access to all areas of the hotel.
If you’re lucky, you can book in a tower room for cheap and the hotel may upgrade you to the palace wing if there is availability. Fortunately for me, I got an upgrade and so was treated to some heritage grandeur for the weekend!
I’m a sucker for a heritage hotel and the Taj Mahal Palace did not disappoint.
I think that sometimes the history of a place speaks to you through the walls and you could feel it coming through here. From the pool, to the bars, restaurants and even the carpeted stair case it was head to toe glorious.
I was lucky enough to be upgraded to the palace wing and even better, my room had one of the best views in the house. I received a sea view with a perfect view of the Gateway. I couldn’t believe my luck!
In India, it can be a bit of pot luck on whether you’ll get a soft mattress or one which feels like you’re sleeping on wood even in 5* hotels like this one. Here, it was like sleeping on a cloud. Perfect after a long tiring journey.
Everything was catered for and you don’t want for anything. The palace wing also has its own butler who makes his way around ensuring all the guests are comfortable on the floor. It was such a treat.
I even got a complimentary foot bath with salts and rose petals…!! Heaven.
As breakfast was included in my package, I enjoyed a beautiful view of the gateway and harbour each morning while munching on my dosa in the Sea Lounge. This pastel blue room had the perfect vibe for a peaceful morning as I watched the harbour and saw the ships and people go by.
There are a few restaurants to choose from at the palace but I won’t lie, they come with a bit of a price tag! There’s traditional Indian at Jeddah, Japanese at Wasabi, Lebanese at Souk and an open BBQ grill at Aquarius. All serve up quality dishes that you would expect at a 5* hotel.
If breakfast isn’t included in your package and you’re after some cheap eats, the Taj Mahal Palace bakery ‘La Patisserie’ have some amazing pastries and cakes for cheap. Plus, they sell their own blend of tea which you can buy in a souvenir marble box.
There’s also a Starbucks coffee which is located around the back of the hotel if you’re a fan of the ‘bucks.
High Tea at the Palace
If you’re like me, you love an afternoon tea! There’s something about a posh tea and a cake that makes my heart sing!
If you weren’t checking into the Taj Mahal Palace for the night, you should definitely stop by for an afternoon of indulgence.
Although the traditional cake tiers aren’t on offer, the buffet style ‘all-you-eat’ affair is perfect as then you can have what you like, when you like.
There’s savoury dishes and colourful cakes in all shapes and sizes. Truffles, dainties and devilish sweets. The smell of freshly made scones fill the air and you can have them with lashings of cream and jam.
My favourite part had to be the sandwich bar where you could order your finger sarnies from the chef. It was so worth the money at 1800 rupees including taxes.
Make sure you bring your sweet tooth along, you certainly will not leave hungry!
See here for their full high tea menu.
I’ve now checked into a few Taj properties across India and every time I stress that they cannot be beaten on customer service. Every member of staff in a Taj hotel that I have met will go to the ends of the Earth to ensure you’re comfortable and happy during your stay.
I always feel refreshed and look back fondly at my stay at any Taj hotel, no matter how long I check in for. It just goes to show how good they are and the fact that even after you leave, it has a lasting affect on you.
Although today there are a wealth of hotels to choose from in Mumbai, I wouldn’t stay anywhere else in the city. The Taj Mahal Palace is THE top hotel location in Colaba and is worth every rupee cent.
Make sure you check in the next time you’re in Mumbai!
Fancy a night here? See here for available dates and rates.
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