Our son, Olly, samples a boutique break in Mumbai.
My business trip to Mumbai last week didn’t warrant my parent’s preferred resting place of the Taj Palace – my budget being smaller but my tastes very similar!
I had two main criteria for a hotel. It needed to be in Colaba and I wanted it to be comfortable. Mum recommended Abode Boutique after someone she knew had stayed at the hotel and returned with glowing compliments. I checked its location on Google, some reviews and a selection of pictures of the rooms and communal areas. It ticked all my boxes; right next to the Taj Hotel and the Gateway of India; great reviews and the rooms looked very nice; cozy and friendly with a twist of boutique style. I booked my room and was all set for India.
I arrived in Mumbai on the Sunday and headed to the hotel in Colaba, which is an hour’s journey from the airport. The driver managed to take an extra RS150 off me; I wasn’t quite back into the flow yet of having to watch out for any other opportunity to be taken for a ride!
We took a little while to find the hotel as the entrance doesn’t do justice to what awaits you inside, even though the wooden and metal facade of the 110-year-old Lansdowne House has been carefully renovated. The staff were instantly helpful and once I’d signed in, was shown to a very elegant bedroom that was nicely designed and the perfect size for a single traveller. I have to admit, one of the first features I noticed which I was really pleased to see was a big bathroom with a large shower head that I knew was going to make for some refreshing showers to recover from the Indian summer heat.
The deluxe room I was in (one of twenty rooms overall in the hotel) had a pleasant seating area by the entrance – which I didn’t manage to make use of – but was a useful open area on which to unpack. From the seating area the bathroom was on the right, leading into the bedroom with a nice wooden desk and a large bed by the window. The big window let in lots of light and allowed me to watch over the hot Colaba bustle from the cool of my AC room!
The hotel has been set up by Lizzie Chapman and Abedin Sham, professionals who worked, appropriately, in finance and hospitality and who set out to create a hospitality formula with heart. A heart for local culture, the environment and people.
All the furniture is locally sourced and there are no plastic materials used, as everything is paper or cloth based. The hotel is furnished with beautiful reclaimed colonial and art deco hardwood and wicker furniture that has been sourced from the city’s second-hand markets, in addition to custom-built pieces, such as bed side tables made from chaat stands and library shelving inspired by Bombay roadside bookstores. Interestingly, the fabrics used for soft furnishings have been sourced from vintage saris, or block printed from original designs. You can feel the difference in the room; it feels as though each item has been hand picked rather than mass produced at the cheapest price – and strangely, I felt more cared for because of it.
As I was in Mumbai on business, one small feature which was invaluable to me and surprised many people when I explained it had been provided, was a mobile phone with a local Indian number. Possibly not so relevant to everyone but for me it allowed me to more conveniently tell the people I was having meetings with that I could easily be contacted. It’s a simple touch and yet one that was so helpful – another reason why a boutique hotel like Abode is able to differentiate itself from a large chain of hotels. Even something like Abode providing biscuits to offer the poor, who ask for money as you walk the streets, is such a small but thoughtful touch. It’s attention to little details like this which encourage me to avoid big hotels who deal in volumes. Abode also , of course, has all the usual features you would expect for modern travellers – high speed WiFi, smelly bath products and linen towels and sheets.
Sadly, I was not able to make full use of the hotel, I think I ate there once during my week and was normally out by 9am and often back at 2am the following morning. Nonetheless, for what I needed it for, Abode was ideal. As expected, I did make full use of the shower to freshen up after meetings in the 32C heat and the bed was so comfortable that it made me question my own back in England!
Abode is positioned in a great location for all the sights within Mumbai and by luck, is next door to the Royal Yacht Club where my friend chose to stay. I would highly recommend it for anyone looking to stay somewhere for a business trip who wants to avoid the run-of-the-mill ‘executive’ hotel.
There’s a good chance I’ll be going back to Mumbai again very soon and I’ll certainly be checking back into Abode to revisit the high level of personal service I enjoyed last week.
You can see more about Abode here
As well as being our eldest son, Olly runs the Social Media advertising and promotion side of The Luxury Couple and is also involved in his own business of App Development – hence his trip to India.
Olly has travelled extensively and often gets asked by us to field test products so that we have another opinion to judge them by, before sharing our thoughts with you.
We hope you’ll find Olly’s notes as useful as our own.