I am going to Mumbai for the first time and, as a woman traveling on my own, I am a little nervous. I shall be going on to southern India to meet friends.
What a joy to go to Mumbai—it’s currently the buzziest city on Earth. I’ve popped over just for the weekend, in fact, to get my pearls fixed. However, I do understand your concern, and your answer is the Oberoi Hotel (oberoihotels.com) on the Queen’s Necklace—also known as Marine Drive, a road that curves along the Arabian Sea and looks like a glistening string of pearls at night (if you’re feeling imaginative). Make sure your butler at the Oberoi is Georgette—she’s one of the best in the world, and extremely discreet. (When my father died, she packed for me, dressed me, comforted me, and sensibly put me in the car with a box of Kleenex.) And your driver can also be a woman—unique in India. I recommend booking travel arrangements through Greaves (greavesindia.co.uk), whose staff are supremely professional and will have a Greaves representative there to meet you at the airport as you disembark and whisk you to the Oberoi. You’ll likely arrive in the middle of the night, so get Greaves to book a massage at the hotel. The spa is open 24/7 (genius), and a treatment before you sleep will be just the ticket.
by the way: Good Earth (goodearthindia.com) is the most wonderful shop for household goods, marvelous throws, bed linens, tablecloths. And they will ship. Burlington’s in the Taj Mahal Palace hotel (tajhotels.com) has excellent tailors. Best to take something for them to copy. It will arrive back in England lovingly wrapped in The Times of India.
my favorite: I love the Dome, the bar at the Intercontinental hotel (ihg.com) on Marine Drive: white-linen sofas and a plunge pool. No one plunges, by the way. God forbid. Cartier took over the whole place for a swanky dinner, but I’ve felt comfy just having a sparkling water with my niece. Also Wasabi by Morimoto, the superb Japanese restaurant in the Taj, with the private tatami table in the turret overlooking the Gateway to India.