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Where to Stay in Mumbai
Mumbai is built on a peninsula in the middle of India’s West Coast, jutting out into the Arabian Sea. The Mumbai area encompasses the city itself, which stretches from the peninsula’s southern tip, and the huge suburbs that sprawl northward for miles. Though dozens of hotels are spread throughout these areas, most visitors choose to stay close to South Mumbai, the oldest part of the city. The Gateway of India, the Taj Mahal Hotel, the Prince of Wales Museum and other famous landmarks are located in this area, as well as several popular and pedestrian-friendly shopping, dining and nightlife districts. The specific neighborhoods in South Mumbai with the greatest concentrations of hotels include Apollo Bandar, Fort, Churchgate and Kalbadevi.
South Mumbai is also the most expensive area in which to stay, so if you’re seeking out cheap hotel deals in Mumbai, you’re more likely to find them in neighborhoods farther north like Worli, Parel and Shivaji Park. These locales are located close to their own points of interest including the Worli Seaface, a glitzy shop-lined promenade, and Jijamata Udyaan, a zoo and botanical garden complex.
Mumbai Hotel Tips
As the home of Bollywood and India’s all-around most glamorous city, it’s no surprise that Mumbai is flush with five star accommodations. While these could once be found almost exclusively in South Mumbai, ambitious construction in recent years has produced luxurious options in neighborhoods throughout the urban core and suburbs. This benefits visitors in two ways; not only are there more fine hotels to choose from, the abundance of plush rooms helps keep rates competitive, though they’re not cheap.
Cheaper hotels range from comfortable chains to ramshackle inns, but it’s best to avoid the least expensive options unless you know exactly what you’re reserving. The very cheapest hotels are often sub-standard to their U.S. equivalents, and rooms comparable to U.S. budget motels aren’t much more.
Mumbai Hotel Recommendations
Without a doubt, the finest and most famous hotel in Mumbai is the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower. Modeled after its namesake landmark, the Taj Mahal represents the ultimate in luxury and excess, with an indescribably lavish spa, world-class restaurants and common areas accented with paintings and sculptures so valuable, the hotel may as well double as a museum. Many rooms have best-in-town views of the Gateway of India.
If the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower is out of your price range but you still want to splurge, you may find the right room at The Oberoi, perched right on Mumbai’s famous Marine Drive. Luxurious features like limo service, personal butlers and on-site boutique shopping make the city’s luxury lodging category very competitive. There’s also the InterContinental, located nearby on Marine Drive, which is famous for its palatial rooms packed with plush details.
For travelers lured to Mumbai for the sights and culture rather than the opportunity to be pampered, there’s a great opportunity to cut costs by staying at the economical Sun-n-Sand. Standard rooms are modern and sharp despite the affordable price tag, and themed suites give you substantially more space for a little extra money. Even cheaper is the Hotel Suba Palace, an independent hotel with bright rooms and a daily breakfast buffet.
Getting around once your flight to Mumbai is on the ground is not particularly challenging, but it’s not especially efficient, either. Public transportation is limited to a few crowded trains that are rarely taken by tourists, and most visitors travel by taxi for any trips too long to cover on foot. Unfortunately, Mumbai traffic is heavy seemingly around the clock, so your travel time by taxi will be difficult to predict.
It’s not all bad news, of course; taxis are cheap, safe, plentiful and easy to hail on the street. Many drivers speak at least a small amount of English, though you shouldn’t count on this. To be on the safe side, have someone at the front desk of your hotel write down the addresses of your destination and your hotel before you leave. As long as you plan ahead and schedule a little extra travel time to compensate for traffic, riding in Mumbai’s taxis is a pleasant way to get around and a great opportunity to get a broad look at the city.
The southernmost reaches of Mumbai are easy to explore by walking, adding to the appeal of the hotels in this area. The farther north you travel, however, the more difficult it can be to get around without a taxi.
Rental cars are available at the airport, but between the harrying traffic and confusing interchanges, driving is not recommended for tourists who want to relax. The best way to get to your hotel from the airport is to arrange transportation through the hotel itself, but you can also catch a taxi right outside the terminal.