It may be home to the landmark Taj Mahal Palace, but backpacker-and-banker-dominated Mumbai isn’t really known for its boutique hotels. Searching for one is made even harder because some bog-standard hotels cheekily use the word “boutique” where, frankly, they really shouldn’t. These five, however, are the real deal.

Gordon House Hotel

Images: Charlie Gilbert

5. The Gordon House Hotel

It’s a bit of an odd one, The Gordon House Hotel. Its location in the heart of Colaba, just around the corner from Leopold Café and the Gateway of India, is excellent. And unlike some other hotels in this part of Mumbai, the 28-room (29 if you include the suite) Gordon House has bags of character; it’s just that the Scandinavian and Mediterranean themes seem a bit, well, random. With an impressive restaurant and bar, and super-friendly staff, guests are normally able to overlook the ever-so-slightly questionable décor.


Image: Le Sutra

4. Le Sutra

It bills itself as “the world’s first Indian art hotel”, and there’s no doubt that Le Sutra – located in Khar West, not too far from Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport – is arty. Some 40 designers and 120 artists worked on its 14 rooms, each of which has its own story. The hotel’s three floors, meanwhile, are based on the three gunas – rajas (passion), sattva (goodness) and tamas (darkness). Homely it isn’t, but Le Sutra is definitely ‘out there’.

3. Aureole Hotel

Travel north from Le Sutra, into Andheri East, and you’ll soon arrive at Aureole Hotel. Its location isn’t ideal, unless you’re flying out the following morning or arriving late at night, but this “design boutique hotel” is undeniably charming. While the hotel’s architects haven’t gone to town – well, apart from some of the extra-wide windows – its interior designers have. From coat-shaped alcoves to hammocks suspended from ceilings, its rooms are as quirky as any in Mumbai. Watch out for the artwork, too.

2. Svenska Design Hotel

If there’s one thing the Swedes do well, it’s interior design. So it’s no surprise that Svenska Design Hotel in Andheri West is well designed – the clue’s in the name, after all. There’s nothing boutique about this glass-fronted hotel’s exterior – in fact, it looks more corporate headquarters than hotel from the outside – but Svenska’s 30 rooms and single suite ooze simplistic Scandi style. Which is great, unless you want something authentically Indian, in which case the next entry is the only real choice.

Abode Bombay hotel

Images: Charlie Gilbert

1. Abode Bombay

It is, quite simply, the best boutique hotel in Mumbai – and arguably it’s the only one in the island city that’s truly boutique. Opened by Lizzie Chapman and Gianfrancesco Perrone at the start of the 2014, Abode Bombay is an oasis of calm a stone’s throw from the Gateway of India. Rooms feature art-deco flooring, vintage Indian furniture and original artwork. Opt for a Superior Luxury and you’ll have a free-standing bath tub, a lounge area and a writing desk to enjoy. The staff are really friendly, too – and they make a mean cup of chai.