“ Address: Sahar Airport Road / Mumbai / India / 400 099 / Tel: +91 22 6696 1234 „
The Hyatt Regency Mumbai is a gorgeous modern hotel with all the facilities a traveller could ask for but it's not the place to stay if you want to be in Mumbai. It's fantastic if you just want a great place that's close to the international airport and is perfect if your priority is to escape from the full-on noise and chaos of the city but getting into central Mumbai could easily take you an hour or an hour and a half depending on the time of day, the weather and just how bad the traffic is (and it's fair to say that the traffic is never anything other than bad in Mumbai). I stayed here a couple of times back in 2004 to 2006 as I used to go to India with a boss who spent most of his trips desperately trying to pretend he wasn't really in India. He started to insist we stayed at the Hyatt after he - a 20 stone ex-Rugby player - got pestered by a dozen small beggar children when staying at the much more central Taj Mahal Palace and Towers. His fear of small grubby children was almost as strong as his desire to surround himself with posh hotels and too much imported white wine.
If you've just flown in on a long flight and have battled your way through immigration, baggage reclaim and the pestering attention of people wanting to carry your bags, getting into an air conditioned hotel car for the short ride to the hotel is a welcome bit of peace and calm. The hotel is a nice place to arrive at after a long flight. The lobby has a very high 'wow' factor and the reception in desk has so much marble that you could practically build a house for the cost of the decorative stone alone. Those kind of things are much cheaper in India but even so I got a serious bout of stone-envy, standing at the check-in desk stroking the highly polished surfaces and leaving nasty finger prints for some poor minion to polish away when I'd moved on. The staff on reception were all young, well groomed types with excellent English who gave off an aura of waiting for a Bollywood director to check in and give them their big break.
There's almost nothing about the reception (or the rooms for that matter) which would tell you that you are in India. This hotel offers 'India for people who don't REALLY want to be in India' and for that reason, whilst I'm always happy to enjoy a bit of luxury and to be spoiled a bit I was a bit disappointed because I love being in India.
Much of the lobby is framed by floor to ceiling windows so clean you could imagine flocks of birds accidentally flying into them. You can sip a cold imported beer and look out over the garden or the swimming pool and feel ludicrously privileged. One day I sat with some colleagues and watched a group of people practicing Bollywood dances in preparation for a wedding that was taking place the next day. If you've ever been told that all Indian people have natural rhythm, I can conclusively confirm that it's not true. Even in India you will see embarrassing 'dad dancing' going on.
The bedrooms are ultra-modern and up-market Ikea in style. The wooden floors gleam and the linens are crisp and whiter than an actor's smile. Colours are neutral and inoffensive but once again manage to make you forget you're in India. I hoped for local art or textiles to give a local touch to the place but I could have been in London, Milan or New York for all the clues that my surroundings gave me.
On a plus point the bathrooms were great and after many adventures with scary India bathrooms, I can forgive the lack of local authenticity and enjoy endless high powered hot water and spotless ceramic without yearning at all for black mould, wet floors or dodgy wiring.
The bars and restaurants are great but expensive even by international standards. If you are on a budget, stick to local beers and stay away from imported wines or spirits and fill up well on the buffet breakfast. Mind you, if you are on a budget, what are you doing in this hotel? There are sometimes good discounts if you shop around but just keep in mind that if you want to avoid hotel prices for food and drink there's very little else in the area except for other hotels that will be as expensive or almost as expensive as this one.
If you need exercise there's a pool, a gym and even a squash court or if you're there for work the hotel offers meeting rooms in a range of sizes as well as a ballroom for big events.
I have stayed at several of the Mumbai airport hotels and this is probably the plushest but it's not my favourite. That accolade goes to the Leela Kempinski which manages to combine great service and lush gardens with a place that smells of incense and is filled with flowers and local carvings. It might sound harsh but despite all its grand interiors and swanky design, the Hyatt Regency just doesn't push my buttons - I found it rather too clinically un-Indian.
Hyatt Regency Mumbai
Sahar Airport Road,
Mumbai, India 400 099
Tel: +91 22 6696 1234 Fax: +91 22 6696 1235