Mumbai is a city of stimulating dissonance: Concrete structures rub shoulders with Victorian Gothic and art deco buildings, resident women in colorful saris juxtapose denizens in finance-esque grey suits while walking on the same street as one another, and a local-filled seafaring promenade demarcates calming waters on one side from calamitous honking horns on the other. Needless to say, Mumbai’s eclectic identity and dynamic buzz deserve your attention — so, without further ado, we present you our official guide to this unique Indian metropolis.
Where to Stay:
Abode is an affordable-yet-cool boutique hotel in South Mumbai’s Colaba neighborhood. Don’t be fooled by the stay’s unprepossessing office building location — once you head up to the hotel’s designated floors, you’ll enter a boho-cool lobby that functions not only as a living room, but also as an all-day café. Common spaces and the hotel’s 20 rooms exhibit the talent of interior designer Sian Pascale, who drew inspiration from India’s colonial pedigree and art deco stylings.
Coined as India’s first art hotel, this well-priced boutique stay brims with character (and lots of eclectic art, of course).
Where to Eat:
This restaurant is a Mumbai institution, full stop. One of the city’s most famous Parsi cafés (an endangered breed of eateries), the local- and tourist-frequented spot occupies a Victorian Gothic colonial building. Inside, high ceilings ventilate a space dotted with tables draped in red plaid tablecloths. When here, order the Berry Palau and Lamb Salli Boti.
Occupying an erstwhile textile mill, Masque is a Relais & Chateaux restaurant that impresses all its visitors. Heralded under the culinary talents of award-winning chef Varun Totlani, the Ten-Course Tasting Menu has discerning diners in raptures, with its ever-changing seasonal assemblage of Modern Indian-style dishes that highlight the complexity of the country’s different gastronomical offerings.
Trishna is the ultimate spot for hyper-local seafood delicacies, especially regarding its famous, only-found-in-Mumbai Bombay Duck dish (to our surprise, this is a hyper-delicious fish plate that has nothing to do with birds?).
Where to Drink:
Taki Taki is a chic pan-Asian gastro-bar in South Mumbai. A glowy red light fills the room, complementing ruddy velvet chairs, marble flooring, and East Asian-influenced trappings.
One of Bollywood’s most famous celebrities is Karan Johar (you might’ve seen his match-making show on Netflix, “What the Love?”). The movie star, director, producer, and entrepreneur’s restaurant Neuma in South Mumbai houses a trendy cocktail watering hole inside, The Rose Bar. The Moulin Rouge-inspired bar wears sexy reds and velvet furnishings. Heed our advice when we tell you to get the Pistols at Dawn, comprising Reposado Tequila, Attikan Estate Coffee, sweet vermouth and Campari.
Where to Visit:
Located in South Mumbai, Kala Ghoda is India’s SoHo equivalent. Chic independent boutiques populate the area’s walkable streets. When here, pop into Shivan & Narresh — an upscale boutique fusing traditional Indian accouterments with modern-day cosmopolitan stylings for men and women (truly, this place is one-of-a-kind). Check out OBATAIMU, where you can select one of their high-quality solid-color wares and customize it to your size and liking. If you need some new jewelry, head to The Gem Palace (make sure it’s their Kala Ghoda location), with its abundance of gold, silver, and everything in between, displayed in a space lathered in greens, pinks, purples, yellows, plus Indian-themed motifs.
Dadar Flower Market (Dadar Phool Gulli)
Best experienced in the morning, around 7:30 am, walking through Dadar Flower Market is enchanting. You’ll pass dangling orange and yellow marigolds, along with pink lotuses and basketed rose petals that early-riser locals sell daily. If you want to see Mumbai wake up, opt to book a tour with No Footprints — you’ll start at 5:00 am and witness the city’s fishermen trade, newspaper distribution framework, and of course, the Dadar Flower Market.
The Queen’s Necklace (Marine Drive)
Colloquially called “The Queen’s Necklace,” this coastal stretch in South Mumbai pulsates with energy every hour. Friends, family, and visitors gather for conversations alongside an iconic vantage point that looks out at Mumbai’s half-moon-shape, sea-lined skyline.
This Hindu temple, where Mumbai gets its name, is dedicated to the “Goddess Mumbadevi.” Decorated in ornate elements and colorful decorations to honor deities, this place of worship serves as an optimal starting point for visitors looking to learn about India’s largest religion, Hinduism.
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