5 star Luxury Hotel in Mumbai : The Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai Review
What if I tell you that you that staying in the Taj Mahal Palace is not just staying in a hotel but actually being in the presence of ” Art & history”. Don’t believe me? Check out this painting by none other than M. F. Hussain stationed right behind the reception.
Staying in Mumbai, I never really bought the idea of a staycation. What with the whole world to explore, different cultures to be experienced, different cuisines to be tried out, one doesn’t really think of checking in a hotel in ones own city. Things are different for me now. With a 3 month old baby and Covid still present, my options are limited. Thus to celebrate my birthday we decided to finally step out of our house and go for a staycation. The only hotel that first came to our mind was ” The Taj Mahal Palace”.
Location of Taj Mahal palace
Situated in the heart of Mumbai is this piece of art and heritage that inspires awe every time you see the extravagant structure. Its the flagship property of the Taj group. Located right at the end of the Arabian sea, the hotel gives a spectacular view of the Gateway of India. The distance between gateway of India to Taj hotel is a short walk. This is one of the best hotels near Gateway of India. The famous Colaba causeway known for its street shopping to fashionable boutiques, is a stones throw away from the hotel. There are innumerous restaurants around the hotel too that can cater to your taste buds.
History of the Taj Mahal Palace
Built in 1903, the hotel gave birth to the country’s first harbour landmark. It is also India’s first luxury hotel. The hotel has been welcoming guests even before the Gateway of India’s foundation was laid in 1911. I read somewhere that Jamshedji Tata was inspired to build this hotel after he was refused entry at Watson’s Hotel, which was restricted to ‘whites only.’On the unfateful day of November 26, 2008, the hotel was hit by terror attacks that took the lives of at least 174 people, with at least 30 people dying in the hotel. Taj is known for its unmatched customer service no doubt but their exemplary attitude to risk their lives lead to protect 1200-1500 people. Infact there is a ‘Harvard Business Review” article published in 2011 that details the incident and the bravado of the employees. You can check it out here
Cost of Travel
From the airport
Its a hours ride from the airport and a prepaid taxi will cost approx 800 Rs. Mumbai airport to Taj Mahal palace hotel distance is 30 kms approx.
From VT terminus
If you are coming by train then you will have to step down at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. Grab a yellow and black taxi stationed right outside the terminus. The ride wont take more than 20 mins and cost should be based on meter readings.
Tip: The taxi driver may try to extract more so please insist on paying by meter.
Safety Measures taken by the hotel
Am sure everyone must be worried about safety precautions what the ongoing Covid crisis. The Taj Mahal Palace has stepped up their game even more to ensure that safety measures are in place. As soon as we arrived at the hotel, we were escorted by a polite security guard to get our temperatures checked. Post that our bags were sanitized too.
Note: If you want your car to be sanitized as well than they offer the service at a nominal cost of Rs. 300
The 240 feet high dome of the hotel is built in Florentine style and I was immediately transported to my visit of “ the Duomo” aka the Florence Cathedral right in Florence’s heart. The hotel has a touch of English and Roman architecture too. Tribal art, Indian cane chairs, Mughal inspired Jali designs, Belgian crystal chandeliers, hand woven silk carpets, cantilever stairway, all make up to the beauty that is the Taj Mahal Palace.One is welcomed with warm smiles and folded hands in a typical Indian “Atithi Devo Bhava” style. Since we went to stay during New years day, we were lucky to have witnessed the beautiful Christmas decor.
The plush lounge was buzzing with people checking in and the staff busy catering to their queries.We made our way to the Arrival counter and Natasha and Yohan from the front desk made a swift check in possible for us considering we had a 3 month old with us.Now the hotel is divided into 2 wings namely,
The Palace wing which oozes of Royalty
& The Tower wing which is uber modern and chic
Note: The palace wing has rooms which are more expensive whereas the Tower wing has more economical rooms. Irrespective of which room you book, you will have access to the entire hotel.
The Taj Mahal Palace boasts of 285 rooms & suites striking a blend of nostalgic elegance, rich history and modern facilities.
We had booked a Delux sea facing room in the Tower wing so we were escorted to the Tower by Yohan. The rooms offer either sea view or city sea. They are based into the following 3 categories,
- Superior room
- Delux Room: Slightly larger than superior
- Apollo Suite : Most expensive
Our room was done tastefully with a plush bed and an adequate shower area. The best part is the tower rooms come with a balcony. The setting sun casting it’s rays on the innumerable boats sailing in the sea is a sight to behold..
Tip: Spend a romantic evening with your partner by hiring a sail boat or a yatch and enjoy the mesmerizing sunset views.You can hire a sail boat from here
Alternatively you can also take a ferry from Gateway of India to Elephanta Caves.
The palace wing rooms each have a history of their own. Each suite has a story to tell, be it paying homage to the great warrior clan or the national flower or our rich Rajput history.
The rooms here are of the following categories:
- Luxury Room
- Luxury Grande Room
- Taj Club Room
- Executive Suite
- Grand Luxury Suite
- Tata Suite
Note: Rooms listed in ascending order expense wise
We consider ourselves extremely lucky that the hotel graciously offered us a free upgrade to the “Luxury Grand Room with Sea View”
The room came with a king size bed, a regal chaise, a table with desk and chair for business work. Though the rooms don’t have a balcony, the windows offer a beautiful view of the arabian sea and the Gateway of India.The bathroom was decorated tastefully with white marble tiling, a huge mirror and a grand bathtub. Nothing like a warm bath to soak in and wash off the tiredness of the day. What intrigued me most was the shower knob which can be set to the water temperature of your liking. How cool is that?
A walk down memory lane : La Patisserie
We made our way to grab a cup of coffee and some snacks. Being a Mumbaikar I knew about “La Patisserie” : The cake Shop Being a kid, my mom would always get me cakes from this shop and a trip to the Taj would have been incomplete without having a pastry and reminiscing about old days. One can either opt for a take away or can sit in an enjoy the pastries and savories. We had a yummy blackforest and a pineapple pastry.
Note : The pastries cost approx 300 Rs piece however they are quite delicious and make up for the cost. You need not be a guest at the hotel to access the cake shop.
What better way to relax and unwind than sitting by the pool side. We made our way to Aquarius: the pool side restaurant.Upon entering the restaurant, one gets the feeling of being teleported from Florentine style to Indian Rajputana palace style. Walls splashed with bright tones of yellow and orange, lanterns made with intricate designs and chairs made of cane with plush comfy pillows is the sight that greets one. What caught my attention was the ceiling fan made in Ketuvallam houseboat style that reminded me of my stay last year in Taj Bekal. Check it out here
I quite enjoyed sitting on the jhula(swing) and taking in the beautiful decor.
We spend good 2 hours sipping our coffee and chatting non stop.
Being in South Mumbai one does not want to miss out on local food so we made our way to the streets of Colaba and tried our different food items.
Tip: If you like wraps and rolls then you can try one at either ” Bade Miyah” or ” Gokul”. Both these restaurants are approx 5 mins walking distance away from the hotel.
If you had rather enjoy a cosy evening at the hotel without venturing out then these following restuarants serve different cuisines namely;Masala Craft : authentic Indian cuisineWasabi by Morimoto : Japanese cuisineGolden Dragon : Chinese cuisineShamiana: varied cuisines
The Walls tell a story
Interestingly each floor of the palace has artifact’s from yesteryears that each have a story of their own. We climbed down each floor to check out the different pieces of art.
We were surprised to know that the Taj Mahal Palace was home to the “Indian freedom movement”. Mr. Jinnah and Mr. Naidu both held court here.
It all started with Royalty wherein the Raja Maharajas would come to stay at the Taj and would call Taj ” A home away from home”.
Imminent personalities from John Lennon to Barack Obama to Justin Trudeau have all graced Taj with their presence.
Functions at the Taj Palace
The Taj boast of hosting the most coveted business events, dreamy weddings and international summits. The hotel offers a spectrum of 9 exquisite banquet halls to chose from. Depending upon the requirements one can opt for any banquet hall. Here’s a list of the banquet halls for hire.
Spread over 6,500 square feet the Jiva Spa offers a wide range of therapies ranging from Aromatherapy to Deep tissue.A traditional Hammam and a Dead Sea Soak are among other unique offering by the Spa.
A breathtaking seaside view with beautiful weather and a wide spread of food is how I would describe the breakfast at The Taj Mahal Palace.
The seaside lounge offers stunning views of the harbour and that’s where we were headed for breakfast.You will have access to this restaurant only if you are staying in the Palace wing. We were lucky to have got a seat at the window overlooking the harbour.From a wide array of fresh from the oven croissants and cupcakes to hot from the pan omlettes/ uttapam to the more lavish dishes like fried eggs and avocado on toast were just some of the items on the menu.
Unlike most hotels where there is a buffet spread, the seaside restaurant offered a mix of fine dine with buffet experience. A butler would come to your table to take down your order for the fresh from the pan food items and you are free to choose the cakes and savories from the buffet spread.
Being holed up in our homes for almost a year, I was giddy with excitement to just sit down looking at the sea and sipping on my coffee
- The hospitality at Taj is unmatched. The hotel went out of their way to accommodate us during stay. We were offered a crib accompanied by a blanket and a soft toy for our little girl. The hotel even sterilized the milk bottles for the lil one and provided with baby products least we had forgotten any! They even went to the extend of not knocking on our door least the baby get disturbed. I have not seen any other staff being so considerate towards their guests.
- Not many hotels come with such a rich history. One gets the feeling of being present in historic times.
- The lifts in the hotel had numbers written in “Braille language” as well to help the visually impaired.
- Being a 5 star hotel it can be a bit expensive for everyone to consider this hotel but like I already mentioned the Tower rooms are a bit more economical and one gets much more than the paid paid. It’s a full value for money deal.
- Being in the heart of the city and right next to the iconic Gateway of India where hundreds of people flock to click pictures, it is unfortunately subject to traffic. However that said the staff manages it very well and is very quick with escorting you in and out of the hotel
So next time around when you visit Mumbai or if you are already staying in Mumbai and looking for a short break then you need not look further and book an experience at the Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai.