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Reviewed 31 January 2008

One of the best hotels I have had the opportunity to stay at. Was here for business but the hotel made it feel like a holiday. Felt pampered and relaxed. Cannot recommend more highly. Note: try and stay in the old wing, its far more beautiful.

Date of stay: March 2006
  • Trip type: Travelled on business
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1  Thank hollydaysSydney
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 January 2008

Have just returned from two separate one week breaks at The Taj which in some ways were quite different.

I took the advice of many on Trip Advisor and booked Taj Club rooms in the Palace wing, and I’m very glad I did. This hotel is quite strange in its design in that it looks like the interior of a prison but is littered with art and sculpture – however, it never failed to interest me, and it was always interesting to walk around and view the art, and the whole buildings interior is wonderfully photogenic. I’ve been fortunate to stay in many hotels all over the world and I will state The Taj’s interior will always be remembered fondly.

In my first week I made the mistake of accepting the first room I was shown in the Palace wing – it was large and on the 6th floor and had a fascinating view over the bay and the city, but each day I hated it more due to the out-dated décor that was left somewhere in the early 1970’s? However, I rarely stayed in it preferring to relax and read by the pool and at the Aquarius open air restaurant and drinks area.
Sitting at the Aquarius never ceased to be interesting - the diversity of guests, from Madonna (yes, the popstar) and her circus crew, to billionaire Indian families who had bodyguards dotted around the place watching over their children.

On our first night we ate at the top floor SOUK restaurant. Food often had to be returned because it was delivered cold – and it was very over-priced. Not sure why this top floor restaurant is even placed here – the windows are so dirty and obscured you can’t see the views. Not a good start.

As we were part of the Taj Club (higher rated rooms) we had breakfast in a quieter area on the 5th and 6th floor. This strangely shaped annex is again left back in the 1960’s or 70’s and has a tired looking breakfast selection to match. The ‘hot’ selection of food was basically cold and unappetizing, so stick to fruit and toast. The staff on duty are pleasant enough but there’s always a sense of feeling part of an Oliver & Hardy sketch as they bumble and clash over whatever it is they try to do.

I must point out that the reception staff at the Taj Club are excellent – in particular Rohan who always met demands and needs.

Lunchtimes we ate at the Aquarius. Again, food always cold and ridiculously over priced, and verging on the pathetic when it came to portions. However, the setting is relaxing for people watching, but the cheque is always the sting in the tail. There’s one thing that does amaze me – why don’t they do something about the crows and pidgeons that are always flying over your food and creating a nuisance? Having vermin in food areas is unacceptable.

Saturday night, after a tiring day, we went for the evening buffet – BIG mistake. Let me explain: you’re looking at one main course that’s going to work out at around 30 to 35 GBP (UK Sterling) – and that’s approximately $60 USD. So you’re paying prices higher than in London, New York and Tokyo. Now, I can deal with high prices if what you’re getting is excellent and memorable, but yet again the food was cold and the portions were plainly ridiculously small and taking advantage of weary guests – a lettuce leaf, one baby tomato, 1 slice of cucumber, 3 grains of tinned corn, and 1 cube of Feta cheese is NOT a salad! I had some lamb chops (accompanied by a pathetic cold baked potato) that had to be returned 3 times to try and get some heat in them. In the end I got so angry I comically threw one at the manager out of frustration!

*Travelers are on their guard when they go to India. We’ve been endlessly injected to stop us getting a disease, we’re on Malaria tablets, we can’t touch the water – we’re cautious of everything due to not wanting to have our vacations ruined by stomach bugs or anything else. So why is one of the ‘Leading Hotels of the World’ serving food that’s been sat around to congeal and go cold, with miserable limp salads sat in the open evening air with bugs flying around them – and they then have the cheek to charge sky high prices and add 12% tax on the food, 12% tax on the soft drinks, 20% tax on alcohol*

However, the above episode did me good – I cancelled all my restaurant reservations at the hotel and looked elsewhere, and what a revelation. At the back of the hotel there’s a small (Mandalik (?)) street with a FANTASTIC restaurant called INDIGO. The food and service are superb AND it’s served H-O-T! They also have a nice roof terrace to eat on if you don’t want to be inside, and a cool chill out bar to drink in. It’s faultless, and half the price of what you’ll pay for food in The Taj. Close by INDIGO has a sister, the INDIGO DELI – go here for lunch and you’ll see the idle rich Indian housewifes with the latest Louis Vuitton handbags gossiping about Bollywood stars and comparing their shoes while their chauffers wait outside avoiding tripping over the stray dogs that have collapsed in the heat. Again, the lunchtime menu beats many in London and New York. Also, close by is an excellent pan-Asian restaurant called Henry Tham’s .. choose a set menu for a wonderful faultless evening experience.

Venturing outside The Taj does get tiresome due to the hawkers, who are actually more of a nuisance than the beggars. Many of the beggars have children so do yourself a favour and arm yourself with pencils or crayons and give them to the kids – the smile on their faces is quite a reward. Although you’ll be sorely tempted do try not to use those extra sharp pencils to pop the ridiculous human sized balloons the hawkers bash in front of your face at every opportunity. Heaven knows why these people think mature foreigners are going to want to walk the streets of Mumbai with a balloon that’s twice the size of a human being?!
NB: Over a two week period the beggars were the same small batch of people, day in day out, and I’m not entirely sure they’re as needy as they make out. A sharp “GO AWAY!” will make them all leave you alone – you’re raised voice will have their eyes darting around looking out for the police. I’m not being cruel against the ‘possibly’ needy – this area is known for heroin addicts.

Before we checked out of The Taj I made a reservation at The Oberoi for the 3rd leg of our journey … we had thought staying at a different hotel may give us a whole different experience of Mumbai. So we went and visited The Oberoi to see in advance our room and what facilities would be on offer. The Oberoi is in a district with very little character, and the hotel itself is soulless. It’s an over air conditioned sanitized monolith that could be absolutely anywhere – nothing about it told you that you were in India. We viewed a nice enough room with a lovely view, but we cancelled our reservation and decided we’d return to The Taj a week later.

We checked out of The Taj and were presented with a bill that listed an endless stream of food and drink that we’d apparently taken from the mini-bar. I never touch anything from any mini-bar. Why do hotels do this? This kind of behaviour can really sour a stay at a hotel. However, without a fuss they did remove the items from my bill after I demanded to speak to the room service guy who’d itemized everything we’d supposedly consumed.

So, we returned to The Taj for the 3rd week of our holiday (the second week was spent aboard the Deccan Odyseey train traveling round the South of India). This time I had planned in advance and asked to see some other rooms, and they were so much nicer than my first room. We took a great room that looked over the Gateway to India on the 4th floor … the room was nicely renovated and the bed very restful. We were both much happier in this room and as a result spent a little more time in it relaxing late at night watching TV or reading. Not once on our second stay did we eat at the hotel preferring to venture out to the excellent local restaurants and their faultless service. This way we made the final week work in our favour.

I do highly recommend The Taj if you want a very Indian hotel experience. India is often frustrating - service verging on the ridiculous – hotel staff bumbling. Where else could you hand your shoes in to be polished, only for them to be returned dirtier and scuffed more than before? The mind boggles! What other country could offer you a burger, deliver the meat patty cold, and the bun a further 20 minutes later? But that’s Indian hotels for you……..

A word of note: Not so long ago, when you cashed your countries currency for Indian Rupees within India, you’d be handed bundles of dirty trashed notes that often had a huge rusty staple through them fastening them in batches of 100’s or 1000’s. I don’t know if generally things have changed, but beware that at The Taj if your Pound note or Dollar has the mearest rip or stain they’ll refuse to accept them. It’s this kind of pettiness and childishness that does the country no favours at all.

Date of stay: January 2008
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
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8  Thank Serial_Traveller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 January 2008

I booked a sea view room in the Old Wing as a last hurrah after 3 weeks touring India. It was very expensive (2 nights here was as much as our week in Goa) and whilst we had a wonderful stay I do think it was a touch on the pricey side.

On arrival we were upgraded to a Taj Club room, perks of which included in room check in, drinks on arrival and wine and chocolates in the room. We also benefitted from complimentary breakfast and cocktail hour in the Taj Club room. The room itself was spacious with a good sized comfortable bed. The view was stunning and worth the extra money. The bathroom had a very deep bath and a rainfall shower which left me feeling the cleanest I have ever been! The Molton Brown toiletries were a nice touch.

The Old Wing is beautiful and you really feel part of Mumbai history. The hotel benefits from a good location, close to the sights and some local restaurants. However, you don't actually need to leave the hotel as the food and drink offers are superb. Stay here for a truly luxurious experience.

Date of stay: January 2008
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
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1  Thank GotToGetOutThere
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 January 2008

This is a great hotel, but probably its best feature is the restaurants. I don't think you will find better in India

Date of stay: January 2008
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
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Thank Dale46
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 January 2008

Excellent hotel with great location for shopping and restaurants.
We stayed in the Heritage wing and were upgraded to the Taj Club. Excellent service, staff try very hard.

Date of stay: January 2008
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
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Thank dumbo8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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