The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Mumbai

Ever since I watched a documentary on BBC about the five star ultra luxe Taj Majal Palace Mumbai, it has been high on my list of hotels to stay at. Whilst planning my trip to Mumbai, I asked my blogger friend Ayushi from The Foodie Diaries, who is from India, where she would recommend staying. She suggested Taj Mahal Palace and my mind was made up!

I booked it and anxiously waited for the time to arrive to check into the iconic, grand and luxurious hotel, built in 1903 by Jamshetji Tata. It is the Tata group’s flagship hotel and has made history several times since its establishment.

The motivation to build the hotel was invoked when Jamshetji read a sign outside the Watson hotel that stipulated “Dogs and Indians not allowed.” This infuriated him so much he decided to build a grander hotel welcome to all and thus the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel was born.

Situated opposite the iconic Gateway of India, it was the first hotel in India to have electricity, the first licensed bar, the first all day dining restaurant and the first discotheque. In addition, it was Mumbai’s first harbour landmark.

Popular with socialites, celebrities and even presidents, it has had a long list of well known people staying there and after staying there I have come to understand why. The service, the grandeur, the luxurious interiors is like no other that I have experienced before. I think I have caught the Taj bug myself!

Famous guests include the Obamas, Kate Middleton and Prince William, Sir David Attenborough, the Queen, Hilary Clinton, just to name a few. It has also been a popular choice for weddings and I can imagine just how spectacular a wedding ceremony at this hotel would be.

It all started with our arrival, which was far from the stand in front of the reception desk filling out forms, standing awkwardly while your passport gets photocopied and your card is swiped ahead of any room expenses you may incur.

Instead, we were given the biggest warm welcome and smiles and ushered to a comfortable lounge area and offered a welcome drink. Meanwhile, a lady dressed in a beautiful saree arrived with an Aarti plate and did a little welcome ceremony with a candle. She then gave us necklaces, called Tulsi Malas. They are thought to ward off evil, bring good fortune, and clear your aura. I loved the gesture and the meaning behind it and thought it was such a lovely touch.

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The decor in the reception area was just phenomenal and it caught every single person’s attention. Just look at the flower arrangement! It got photographed so much by people and is really eye catching.

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In the reception area, also lies a tribute to the hotel staff and guests who tragically lost their lives in the Mumbai Terror Attacks. Their names are all inscribed into the wall and every evening candles are lit. There is also the name of Lucy, a brave dog who was shot dead by the terrorists. The tree that can be seen is one of the remnants of the attack and is now called the Tree of life. I thought this was such a lovely way to remember the victims of the attack and also commend the bravery of the hotel staff who put their lives at risk to protect the guests.

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While we were in the lounge area, our room keys were brought to us and we were explained a little about where everything we needed was, and then were taken up to our room, which was in the restored Palace wing side of the hotel. The other side is the Tower wing.

Our room had a view of the pool and was just such a stunning room! It had a large comfortable bed, the bathroom was just dreamy and I loved all the little touches. We even had a butler service.

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The in room amenities included a mini bar which was stocked really well. Water was complimentary.

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Once we had freshened up, we went exploring around the hotel and the grounds are just so beautiful!

We loved sitting by the pool and having coffee and just relaxing! It was so peaceful and an oasis away from the hustle and bustle of Mumbai. I temporarily forgot where I was.

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This swing was also a favourite spot and it turned out it has so many memories for so many people of their childhood visits to the hotel.

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In the evening we also went for the Heritage tour, which is daily and tells you more about the history of the hotel as well as shows you the key venues and artwork, of which there is a rather impressive collection in the art gallery which can be purchased. It is really worth doing and so interesting.

We learned that the teak panelling on the wall in the picture below was once the Air India counter!

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For me one of the many highlights of the Taj was the spectacular breakfast spread. There was seriously something for everyone! Do not miss breakfast whatever you do!

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We had our breakfast outside and enjoyed the warm weather in the beautiful seating area, which was so bright and colourful. The top was covered so there was no invasion of our food by any creepy crawlies or birds and it was weather proof too.

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In terms of food, the hotel has so many amazing choices including Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Street Food and cafe style food, as well as a Patisserie. We tried the street food and the Chinese restaurant, called Golden Dragon, which were both amazing. The Pani Puri was a must order!

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I wish I had a longer stay and as it got closer to the time to leave I got sadder and sadder and already mentally planned a return visit!

The Taj Mahal Palace is located in the southernwest point of the City in Colaba, and is opposite the Gateway of India.

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Close by are many famous markets such as Crawford and Chor Bazaar, shops, restaurants, as well as the famous Leopold Cafe.

If you are planning a trip to Mumbai and want somewhere amazing to stay I can’t recommend the Taj Mahal Mumbai Palace enough. It has a serious wow factor, is stunning and the service is just exceptional. I am now looking forward to trying out some of the other Taj hotels.

I received a media rate for this stay. All views and photos are my own.

 

City Spice on Brick Lane

One of the things to tick off your London adventure list is to have a curry on Brick Lane. It was the Bangladeshi community who first brought the curry houses to Brick Lane and today there are so many choices to choose from on Brick lane, Hanbury Street and Whitechapel road.

One, called City Spice, situated on Brick Lane itself, near the Vintage Market, has been hailed the King of Brick Lane. I went for lunch one Sunday to check it out for myself.

The cuisine is classic Bangladeshi curry house dishes and they feature some of their award winning dishes on the menu too. Whilst we pondered about what to order, we nibbled on some Papad and an assortment of chutneys. The restaurant itself is lovely, spacious, recently refurbished and the staff are really attentive and friendly.

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I have a particular love for food cooked in a Tandoor and so we decided to try the Paneer Tikka. The paneer was marinated really well in a spiced yoghurt sauce and was served with onions and a fresh salad. It was delicious, smokey and melt in your mouth.

Amit loves Kebabs and so we decided to try the Kebab Cocktail, which had an assortment of chicken and lamb tikka with kebabs. It was really good and I loved the variety.

For mains, upon recommendation from the owner, Amit opted for the Sylheti Lamb Shank, which was hotter than the other choices on the menu. This dish is tender lamb shanks cooked Bengali style whereby they are slow roasted with aromatic herbs, spices and saffron. Amit loved this and he said the pieces fell of the bone wonderfully.

I went for Butter Chicken and I am pretty predictable with my orders! It was sweeter than the Indian version of the dish, cooked in a mild sauce, and I loved the buttery flavours and the chicken was cooked perfectly.

Both of us are more bread than rice fans so we went for naan breads, which were lovely, fluffy and warm.

A side of mixed raita was a welcome match for the dishes with its cooling nature and a must have for every meal.

We really enjoyed our meal and were so full we couldn’t even manage dessert! The menu is extensive and there are really good choices for both  vegetarians and non-vegetarians. They are also very flexible when it comes to dietary requirements and allergies.

If you haven’t had a curry on Brick Lane yet, City Spice is a lovely restaurant to have your first experience. For more information go to http://city-spice.london