Hotel check: The Oberoi Hotel, Mumbai

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Background

On 26 November 2008, The Oberoi was one of the first buildings to be targeted by militants in the horrific Mumbai attacks. After 18 months and more than $30 million of refurbishment, an emotional event marked the hotel’s reopening in April this year. No trace is left of the damage caused by fire, water and bullets and, by the looks of things, The Oberoi now gracefully reoccupies its spot as one of Mumbai’s most distinguished hotels.

What’s it Like ?

In his iconic masterpiece, Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts mentions The Oberoi, praising its piano bar at length. The main floor space of the atrium as Roberts would have known it then has been replaced by gleaming white marble, and soft-spoken staff members glide silently across its vastness. The Oberoi, much like the jetsetters who flit in here for lunch or after work drinks, is all about worldly elegance and more than a touch of glamour. The tight security measures at the foyer are overwhelming at first, but leave even a paranoid South African feeling very safe and secure.

Where is it ?

The Oberoi is situated on Mumbai’s famous Marine Drive, a C-shaped boulevard that winds along the coastline with the Arabian Sea. The hotel is about an hour’s drive from the airport, and very close to prime tourist sites such as the Gateway of India, Flora Fountain, Pherozshah Mehta Gardens, Crawford Market and the Haji Ali Mosque.

Room facilities

There are 214 rooms and 73 suites. The views and sizes may differ, but all these spaces share a kind of solemn elegance – it’s all smooth wooden panels and restful, polished white surfaces, punctuated here and there with an extravagant splash of red. Richard Gere, Rupert Murdoch, Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, Michael Jackson and various other dignitaries have stayed in the expansive Presidential Suites. Not that the rooms lack any degree of luxury; expect to find a pillow menu, iPod docking station, fresh-cut flowers, silk gowns, a wonderful toiletries range, slippers, black-out blinds and – the cherry on top – a 24-hour butler service (to assist in matters like packing, unpacking, dry-cleaning and shoeshining). All rooms have Wi-Fi access, which is billable to your account.

Restaurants and Bars

Guests have three excellent finedining options to choose from. Fenix serves world cuisine, with elements of European, Japanese and Indian cuisine coming strongly to the fore. Vetro is an Italian restaurant with a slightly more playful approach, but the hotel’s crowning glory, on the culinary side of things, is the Indian speciality restaurant, Ziya. Both the Eau Bar and Champagne Loungeoffer sweeping views of the Arabian Sea.

Business and Meeting Facilities

The hotel offers portable printers for hire from the Business Centre. Small to mediumsized meetings may be held in the Jaipur and Udaipur Suites located on the 21st floor, with each room capable of hosting 20 – 30 guests, depending on the seating arrangement.

Leisure/Recreational Facilities

The Oberoi Spa is the first and only spa in Mumbai to be open 24 hours a day. The Fitness Centre, featuring Life Fitness Equipment, is also open at all hours. The outdoor swimming pool is open from 07h00 until 20h00, and is heated to maintain a comfortable temperature all year round.

Verdict

As the in-room guide states, The Oberoi and its rooms have been designed as a haven ‘for a guest to escape from the culture shock, the maddening crowd, the heat and dust, into the security of sound-protected interiors’. This ultra-glam hotel would be equally at home in New York, London or Amsterdam, but the hospitality and little touches speak of India at its best.

Contact

Tel: +91 22 6632 5757

Website: oberoihotels.com/oberoi_mumbai

 Jacqueline Cochrane