Home of Bollywood. Culinary capital. Fashion epicenter. Financial powerhouse. Mumbai ‘the city of dreams’ is India’s most diverse and extreme city. With a current population of more than 20 million people, it’s hard to comprehend that this coastal metropolis was once seven sparsely-inhabited islands before the British began developing it in the 19th century. Since then, the city has evolved into a complex mix of skyscrapers and swanky shopping malls, Gothic-style British heritage buildings and age-old infrastructures. It has India’s most prolific film industry, some of Asia’s biggest slums (as well as the world’s most expensive home) and the largest tropical forest in an urban zone.
To really soak up the charm of Jodhpur, however, we encourage you Here is our suggestion of where to go and what to see in 48 hours in Mumbai…
Arrive in Mumbai and check into your luxury hotel. Our favorite place to stay is the iconic Taj Mahal Palace. Built in 1903, the hotel oozes history and has become a favorite of the great and the good due to its comfortable, well-appointed accommodation and excellent location. The Oberoi Mumbai is also a first-class property, offering luxurious, well-furnished rooms and suites plus an impressive choice of facilities and restaurants. For a smaller property, Abode, the city’s first boutique hotel, is a brilliant, more affordable option with 20 boho-chic rooms.
Having settled in, head over to Leopold Café on Colaba Causeway for lunch. Possibly Mumbai's most famous restaurant, it has been in business since 1871 but rose to notoriety in Gregory David Robert's epic book Shantaram, published in 2003. A mix of Indian and Continental cuisine is served, but you'll be going there more for the atmosphere than the food.
A short stroll from Colaba is Kala Ghoda. A hip, creative area with designer cafes, indie galleries and sidewalk art stalls, this pedestrian-friendly district is lined with a hodgepodge of stately buildings: the Gothic Elphinstone College, the neo-Classical Army & Navy Building and the powder-blue 1884 KenesethEliyahoo Synagogue. The city’s most extravagant Gothic building, the monumental Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, can also be found here, with its Victorian, Hindu and Islamic styles whipped into an imposing structure of buttresses, domes, turrets, spires and stained glass. Another standout structure is the bulbous dome of Mumbai’sbiggest and best museum Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (formerly the Prince of Wales Museum). Showcasing a mix of India-wide exhibits, it’s a fascinating lesson in the subcontinent with a vast collection including impressive Hindu and Buddhist sculpture, terracotta figurines from the Indus Valley, Indian miniature paintings and some particularly impressive weaponry.
Kala Ghoda is also considered Mumbai’s art district and plays a major part in the city’s position as the artistic capital of the country. The legendary Jehangir Art Gallery is excellent, hosting exhibitions of all types of visual arts by Mumbaikar, national and international artists. The National Gallery of Modern Art is another important institution, featuring well-curated shows of Indian and international artists in its bright and spacious five-floor exhibition space.
Finish the afternoon by tucking into an elaborate high tea at the Sea Lounge of the Taj Mahal Palace which has expansive sea views across Mumbai Harbour. Opposite ‘The Taj’ is the Gateway of India, Mumbai’s most iconic monument, built to commemorate the landing of King George V and Queen Mary when they visited India in 1911. Walk along Colaba's Strand Promenade from the Gateway of India to the Radio Club. It’s a short but picturesque amble with the left side of the Promenade flanked by crumbling Colonial mansions, while the right side borders the Arabian Sea.
As the day comes to a close, take a drive along Marine Drive towards Girgaum Chowpatty in time for sunset. This city beach is an evening hangout spot for Mumbai’s residents, who flock there to watch the sun disappear behind the Malabar Hill skyline and munch on snacks from the stalls. Try some bhelpuri, pav bhaji, or vada pav—classic Mumbai street food.
There are numerous options for dinner afterward. In Colaba, there are some outstanding fine-dining restaurants serving global cuisine. We highly recommend San Francisco chef Alex Sanchez’s Table, one of India’s most celebrated restaurants with hearty comfort fare and Indigo, housed in a charming colonial bungalow, serving an eclectic menu of European-Asian cuisine. In Kala Ghoda, Khyber, with regal Afghan-inspired interiors, has won awards for its traditional Northwest Frontier cuisine. The south Indian coastal cuisine at Trishna among the best in Mumbai. Further north is Bombay Canteen, which celebrates the diversity of Indian cuisine. Founded by New York chef Floyd Cardoz, enjoy the likes of Indian “tacos” with chicken tikka on fenugreek flatbreads; Kerala-style roasted fish swaddled in a behemoth banana leaf and coffee rasgulla with salted caramel ice cream.
Finish the night with a drink at the rooftop AIR bar of the Four Seasons Hotel – one of the highest bars in Mumbai. Champagne is available by the glass, the cocktails are among the best in the city, and the bar snacks are delicious. A resident DJ plays upbeat jazz nightly and the mesmerizing views of Mumbai provide a scintillating backdrop.
Start early to get a glimpse of the local fishing community at Sassoon Docks. Built in 1875, the city’s oldest docks now accommodate this exuberant daily fish market run by the Sassoon community (former cotton traders who moved into fishing after the cotton industry’s decline). The invigorating noise, color, aromas and bustle of fresh sea life beats any wake-up call. Your tailor-made tour can also take in the vibrant Dadar wholesale flower market and washing activity at the dhobi ghat, all whilst driving past British architectural masterpieces including the exquisitely sculpted Flora Fountain, where locals swarm the street-food stalls for breakfast.
Spend the rest of the morning doing some leisurely shopping. The bylanes of Kala Ghoda and Colaba have all you could possibly want, from colorful street stalls selling bargain jewelry, cool clothing and shoes to mid-range fashion outlets to exclusive designer boutiques in handsome buildings dating from the British Raj. Browse housewares at Nicobar and cutting-edge dresses and blazers at Obataimu, an atelier-boutique that spends much of the year on the road gaining inspiration from destinations like Paris, London and Tokyo. While the concept shop Le Mill specializes in global brands like Chloé and Balenciaga, the new Colaba location, hidden behind a nondescript facade, also carries Indian labels like Janavi and NorBlackNorWhite. Across the street, in the Art Deco Dhanraj Mahal complex, a new outpost of Jaipur’s venerable Gem Palace features bold colors by the designer Marie-Anne Oudejans and plenty of bling. If cheap trinkets are more your style, then browse the street market lining the Colaba Causeway, where you’ll find sandals, dresses and fake jewelry aplenty. Bargaining is de rigueur.
Grab lunch at one of the area’s many restaurants before heading for Mutton Street, the heart of Mumbai’s Chor Bazaar — Thieves’ Market. The stretch of dusty antique shops is where Bollywood prop stylists scavenge for faded photographs, rotary telephones and other props to recreate a bygone era. Grandfather clocks and furniture aren’t the most practical souvenirs, so seek out shops brimming with posters and records for classic Indian films. Time to spare? Crawford Market (also known as Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Mandai), founded in 1869 and still standing as one of the city’s primary markets, is another fantastic option. Carrying everything from clothes to fresh produce, this huge, busy market is a delightful experience that should not be missed.
On return, enjoy your hotel’s luxury facilities. With breath-taking sea views, the Taj’s Jiva Spa offers a soothing blend of both relaxing and rejuvenating massages. There’s a lovely outdoor swimming pool sparkling between palm trees in a courtyard which used to be the driveway for arriving horses and carriages of the day. The Oberoi has an equally tranquil spa with a wide range of Eastern and Western massage treatments on hand to transform the mind, body and spirit. The swimming pool is fabulous, too, with a poolside restaurant serving drinks and snacks.
Both hotels have great dining options so we suggest staying in one evening. Taj Mahal Palace has some of the finest restaurants in India, including Wasabi by Morimoto, recognized by San Pellegrino as one of Asia's 50 Best Restaurants for its authentic Japanese cuisine and Golden Dragon which serves exotic Sichuan and Cantonese with an extensive array of succulent dim sum. The Oberoi Mumbai also boasts a superb selection of restaurants: Ziya, with a contemporary Indian menu designed by the Michelin-starred chef Vineet Bhatia and the Italian restaurant Vetro which has an excellent wine library.
If you would like to visit Mumbai on your upcoming trip to India, please do get in touch. Mumbai is just one of many exciting places we can include on your luxury tailor-made tour and we’d be delighted to get stuck into the planning. For inspiration, take a look at our sample itineraries.