Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai, India is Mumbai’s most famous landmark, and one of the most iconic hotels in the world.
Opened in 1903 during British rule, Taj Mahal Palace is not only historic (if these walls could talk), it has been an incredibly inspiring and revolutionary hotel that truly spearheaded progressive movements in India. Taj Mahal Palace was the first hotel in the country to hire women, the first hotel to have electricity and the first hotel in India to have a nightclub, Blow Up, which opened in the 1960s. It was also the first hotel in Mumbai to have a licensed bar in 1933.
Operated by the Taj Hotel Group, Taj Mahal Palace looms over Mumbai’s Arabian Sea harbor, next to equally famous Gateway of India, a stone-arch landmark commemorating the 1914 visit of George V and Queen Mary to then Bombay (the city’s name changed from Bombay to Mumbai in 1995, when Shiv Sena came into power and changed the city name to pay tribute to Goddess Mumbadevi, though locals still prefer Bombay, and you’ll hear them refer to their city this way).
The hotel has 565 rooms divided in two buildings. The rooms in the original palace feel old world, transporting guests to a bygone era, while the 19-story tower built in 1973 are equally impressive, flaunting Moorish elements, with all guestrooms furnished with myriad colors, tapestries, antiques and elegant furniture. The legendary architecture of the hotel is a blend of various influences and styles, including European, Victorian, Islamic and Oriental, which makes the design incredibly unique.
In November 2008, The Taj Mahal Palace was targeted in a terrorist attack, which included gunshots and grenade bombings that set the hotel on fire. It closed for two years, reopening on Independence Day 2010. While the attack occurred more than a decade ago, people still vividly remember the incident—though the hotel is safe to check into.
We stayed at the hotel in 2008 (months before the attack) and returned January 2020, and the security has been amped up. Also, it never felt that anything had changed. The hotel was still decadent as usual, and the hotel was incredibly busy.
President Barack Obama famously booked the entire hotel in 2010.
How much is a room at Taj Mahal Palace?
For one of the most prestigious and legendary, old-world and historic hotels in the world, The Taj Mahal Palace is surprisingly affordable. Rooms start at INR 12,000 (about $167 USD) a night in the Tower wing and INR 18,000 ($251 USD) a night in the Palace wing.
Breakfast is often included in the rate, and if you’re looking for the cheapest rate, click here.
In comparison to other world-class, iconic palace hotels, Peninsula Hong Kong in Hong Kong starts around $600 a night; La Mamounia in Morocco starts around $400 a night; Mandarin Oriental Bangkok in Thailand starts around $550 a night; and Ritz Paris in France starts around $1,000 a night.
Taj Mahal Palace is easily one of the more affordable iconic hotels in the world.
What can I expect at the hotel?
The Taj Mahal Palace hotel is a stunning landmark that feels like a museum, thanks to decades of history, and you’ll definitely see tour groups roaming the halls.
The hotel feels like a resort. There is an outdoor pool sanctuary, Jiva Spa, fitness center with morning yoga classes, 24-hour business center with seven meeting rooms and conference facilities, a kids program, and free wifi. There are also nine restaurants, including Japanese (Wasabi by Morimoto), Chinese, Indian and Mediterranean.
There is twice-daily housekeeping, and some rooms come with butler service. The hotel employees 1,500+ staff. Service is hit or miss, as you’ll see in my review below.
After checking out Goa, I was happy to return to Taj Mahal Palace for a two-night stay in January 2020. I experienced some service issues, but in general, the hotel was as amazing as it was the first time around.
Before I continue to my review, check out TripAdvisor to get the best airfare to Mumbai, India. Trust me. I didn’t realize you could book through TA either.
Check out our review of The Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai, India.
The Taj Mahal Palace is stately with intricately detailed design, which is apparent as soon as you drive up. I booked a room in the Palace wing, so this was my dedicated entrance. It’s a separate check-in from the hotel’s main lobby, and I *highly* recommend it. In a Palace room, you may not get a balcony (offered in Tower) or striking views, but this VIP Palace room check-in is worth the booking… and, of course, the pure joy of staying in an original room.The Palace Lounge is the check-in for Palace wing guests. I immediately felt transported to the turn of the century, with the elegant chandelier, checkered, marble floor and sheer intimacy of a hotel check-in. Depending on what room you book, you can have unlimited access here.All Palace wing guests check in comfortably in seats while they can munch on snacks or have a cocktail. I’ll show you the main lobby check-in in a moment (it’s where I checked out, as this intimate lounge is only for check-in), and you can see the difference.The Palace wing has rooms on 4 floors, divided by a central atrium, so you can see every floor. The architecture is breathtaking, and every floor is adorned with priceless artwork and antiques. Due to the hotel’s open layout, you can see every floor, all the way to the lobby. While there are elevators, I recommend taking the stairs. You feel like royalty.
As promised, here is the main lobby. It feels more contemporary, and it’s massive with plenty of seating for the hundreds of guests staying here, as well as the tour groups, people coming for the restaurants, meetings and/or spa.The check-in desk always had at least 6 people working. The staff were great, but often slow. Also, this isn’t the type of hotel where staff constantly smile and roll out the red carpet for you. With every encounter I had, the staff seemed overworked, often dismissive, and had that “I need to find another job” look on their face. You know that look! Anyway, it took me about 15 minutes to check out, and the agent accidentally charged another card when I told him twice not to charge the other card. Yes, I know people make mistakes, but he was really rushed and should have taken his time. Other than that, it was a smooth transaction.I checked into a Luxury Grande Room Sea View. The room was about 355 square feet, but it felt a lot more spacious. I loved the high ceilings, the elegant style, the abundant seating areas, and the fact the hotel provided complimentary water (not always common at large hotels!).The room was cozy and intimate. The free WIFI was fast, the room was quiet, and I was happy just chilling out in my room.I loved the columns in the room. The design details were pretty amazing, and there was always an amenity every day, like fresh fruit or snacks. The bed was comfortable, and every night, I slept well, especially with my jetlag after flying in on Qatar’s Qsuite (see my review here). One thing to keep in mind is that Taj Mahal Palace offers smoking rooms. I wasn’t sure if I was booked in one, but the guest next door definitely smoked in his room, and I could smell the smoke. I didn’t mind at all. In fact, it made me feel even further transported to another era. It sort of went with the hotel.
The marble bathroom is spacious, with a tub and a separate rain shower that offers really strong pressure. I loved it. There are so many mirrors that help enhance the space, and I loved the 100% all natural bathroom toiletries the hotel provided, including shampoo, conditioner, body wash and lotion. The room also came with its own marble foyer, which expanded the space. I used this space for storing my suitcase.
Here’s my sea view. I had barely a glimpse of the Gateway Of India monument, but I definitely had a good birds-eye view of the tourists, day and night. If there’s a floor without marble at Taj Mahal Palace, I never saw it. Every public space in the hotel was lavish, smartly decorated, whether with expensive, antique rugs or fixtures, sparkly chandeliers or extravagant floral displays, including native marigold.Mumbai is chaotic, and the hotel is often busy, so the outdoor pool area was the perfect sanctuary. Again, it was stately, with al fresco corridors lined with columns, marble, intricate designs and murals and comfortable seating.You could order lunch out here, or just chill out in a covered area. Note: you can only order food at a table, not a sunbed.The pool is beautiful, crowned by a netting (to prevent birds, etc). It’s a large, heated pool, and there were sprawling green lawns surrounding it. There was never enough sunbeds after mid-morning; they were always taken by one of the 500+ guests, so you can sit at one of the tables or lay out on the lawn… OR go early in the morning or early in the evening like I did.
My friends ordered sandwiches, and I ordered a Tika Masala wrap that was amazing. The service was average. We had ordered French Fries, but our waiter forgot to put in the order, and the fries came after we were done with our sandwiches, so we didn’t get to eat them (we had an event to get to). This is fine, but he never owned up to his mistake, never apologized and never took it off our bill. Also, I ordered an iced tea that never came. Taj Mahal Palace has an intimate spa flanked by the main lobby and the pool. Jiva Spa is new, sprawling 6,500 square feet, and offering a handful of treatment rooms. It’s surprisingly small for such a grand hotel, proving not a lot of guests book treatments here (the menu was also pretty limited).I did love the main spa lobby, which was relaxing, anchored by a waterfall pond. Here, you can book your treatment. The spa offers massages, facials, body scrubs and packages that include traditional Aryuvedic treatments. The treatment room was spacious and meditative. My masseuse dropped me off in the treatment room (I booked a deep-tissue massage), which is where I got changed (there is no changing area). I sort of loved this, but also, it means there is no public facilities, including hot tubs, steam rooms, saunas, which you would expect at a luxury hotel. Each treatment room, however, comes equipped with its own steam room and shower. I spent about 10 minutes in here, then I got in my robe for my treatment. To be honest, the massage was bad. I give it a 3 out of 10. I had to constantly tell him to go harder, especially since I booked a deep-tissue massage (he was giving a “relaxing” massage). Not only that, I specifically told him to avoid my stomach and face, which he ignored and proceeded to massage my stomach and face! It was funny, but not worth the $100 I spent. After the treatment, I mentioned the situation to the front desk manager, who did tell the spa manager who called my room (I missed the call). When I checked out, the front desk called her over, and she gave me 15 percent off the treatment. She had apologized for the masseuse, but it was interesting she didn’t give a higher percentage. She did say if I was staying longer, she would have just given me another massage (complimentary), which is the level of service you would expect at a luxury hotel, but because I was checking out, she could only give 15 percent off the massage I didn’t love. At this point, I didn’t care, but I wish I had just gone in town for a better massage!
I didn’t have a chance to try any of the restaurants other than Shamiana for breakfast, which offered an amazing buffet (both Indian and Western dishes) since I was checking out Mumbai’s amazing food scene, including stops at O Pedro and Bombay Canteen. When I was the hotel, I spent most of my time simply wandering the halls, finding nooks and crannies with displays and admiring all the gorgeous visuals. The hotel offers a shopping arcade with fine boutiques in a marble hallway. This hall connects the Palace wing (home to the Palace Lounge and the pool) to the Tower wing, where the main lobby and majority of restaurants are located. All in all, I loved my second time around at Taj Mahal Palace. There were a few service glitches, and the staff always seemed tired, overworked and often indifferent, and sometimes I felt that it was the very first hotel job for many staff I encountered. But I do appreciate the hotel and its legacy, and I hope it continues to thrive as one of the most iconic hotels in the world. I would definitely return.
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