Travelers have plenty of enticing reasons to visit Mumbai, a city of 21.6 million people, and India’s largest.First, there’s the setting along the Arabian Sea combined with the feel of being in a bustling metropolis. Then there’s the fantastic shopping, restaurants and culture.And the numerous historical attractions of Mumbai include three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Elephanta Caves, the railway station Victoria Terminus and its collection of Victorian and art deco buildings.Luxury seekers should know that Mumbai happens to be India’s most expensive destination by far, according to Shahrookh Cambata, who was born and brought up in the city and is the CEO of Greaves India, a company that sells upscale India vacations.But there is good news: “Compared with other big cities like Hong Kong and London, Mumbai is a bargain,” says Cambata. “You can get a lot without overspending.
Fiona Caulfield, the founder of the India travel book series Love Travel Guides, also thinks that it’s possible to take a high-end trip at a value. “You need to know [the] ins and outs, but it’s not hard to pull off,” she says.Following are Camabata’s and Caulfield’s insider secrets for how to have a luxury trip to Mumbai for less:
Choose the right hotel
Five-star hotels are everywhere in Mumbai, but the ones in prime South Bombay such as The Taj Mahal Palace and The Oberoi are more expensive compared with properties in other neighborhoods. Here are a few of your other options:– Bandra neighborhood also has a Taj (this one is the Taj Lands End).– Worli is home to Four Seasons and The St. Regis.– Juhu has a swanky JW Marriott and a new location of Soho House.
Staying outside of South Bombay may mean you’re not in “what’s considered the heart of town, but these other neighborhoods are just as vibrant,” says Cambata. “And getting to South Bombay on the new Bandra-Worli Sea Link bridge takes under an hour.”Before the bridge was built, this trip took twice as long.
Also, Cambata says that Mumbai’s hotels offer attractive extras for no additional cost throughout the year, even during peak season from November through March. Perks include airport transfers, breakfast, local transportation and even city tours.”It’s worth looking at multiple hotels to see who’s offering what before you decide where to ultimately book,” Cambata says.
Avoid hotel dining
While it’s definitely worth staying in one of Mumbai’s five-star hotels, you shouldn’t blow your budget eating meals in their overpriced restaurants, according to Caulfield. “There are so many good independent eateries that are a fraction of the cost and hotspots at the same time,” she says.
Her favorites include The Bombay Canteen, which serves regional contemporary Indian food; Swati Snacks for street food; and Soam, a vegetarian Gujarati and Rajasthani spot.Also, the city’s historic Parsi cafes are an institution and shouldn’t be missed. Caulfield’s favorite is Britannia & Co., where the berry pulao is not to be missed. “Time Out Mumbai” is a good resource for locating independent restaurants.
Hit up the local spa
India is famous globally for its therapeutic spa treatments such as Ayurveda, a healing system that’s more than 3,000 years old, along with body and head massages. Indulging in one or more services will make your Mumbai getaway feel that much more decadent.However, the treatments at luxury hotel spas are exorbitant, according to Caulfield, who says that travelers should book services at a local, independent spas instead.”You can end up paying five times more at a five-star hotel,” she said.She recommends The Palms Spa, Metta Foot Spa (where a 30-minute reflexology session is less than $5) and Rewa Escape, situated along the Arabian Sea.