Open since January, this is the fourth Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces property in Mumbai, joining the Taj Mahal Palace, the Taj Lands End and the Wellington Mews apartments. The group also operates the Vivanta by Taj President in the city.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
Despite being adjacent to the airport’s domestic terminal, the Santacruz is determined to avoid being termed an airport hotel. Instead, it emphasises its proximity to the business districts of Andheri East, Bandra Kurla Complex and the Bombay Convention and Exhibition Centre. Security checks of your car and belongings are performed at the gate and the main entrance.
Indian in styling, with an aquarium at its centre, the double-height lobby is modern and luxurious without being ostentatious. The hotel has a wide collection of paintings and traditional sculptures by Indian artists, and stunning light installations by Czech company Lasvit. The lobby chandeliers – A Galaxy of Stars – are made up of 3,504 hand-blown pieces of glass.
WHERE IS IT?
Just off the Western Express Highway. The international terminal is a ten-minute drive away, depending on traffic.
The 279 rooms and suites are arranged over six floors. Interiors are fairly uniform and extremely large, between 44 sqm and 54 sqm. Most are city- or pool-facing, but those on one side of floors four to six are runway-facing, offering excellent views of Mumbai airport and, arguably, the best perspective of any major international airport anywhere (I was told rooms 547 and 647 were best for this).
I stayed right after the official opening when these three levels, including the sixth-floor Taj Club, were yet to be unveiled. As one end of the rectangular building juts into airport territory, there are six rooms on each level with no windows, called the Tranquility rooms.
My city-facing room (which overlooked the cylindrical Sahara Star hotel) had large monochrome prints on the walls, a cushioned window seat, both a bath and shower, and free basic wifi, which was quite slow, but good enough for email. High-speed wifi is available at a cost of ₹1,010 (£10) for 24 hours.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
All-day restaurant Tiqri takes its name from the huge ceramic mosaic artwork displayed at one end of the atrium, just behind the raised level where the bar is located. Entitled Tree of Life, this intricate piece took 120 people 16 months to complete. The restaurant serves local and international street food, as well as a full buffet breakfast. It’s a challenging, echoing space, not helped by having loud background music.
Slightly more intimate is Rivea (no relation to the Alain Ducasse restaurants of the same name). Featuring an uneven glass ceiling and high-backed sofas in a winter tree-print fabric, it’s like something out of Alice in Wonderland. The food was excellent. A Chinese restaurant is coming soon.
A wide range of spaces are available for hire, including a ballroom seating 500 people classroom-style.
There is an outdoor pool and a large, excellent fitness centre.
The hotel had only just opened when I stayed but the staff, many of whom had worked in Taj’s other luxury properties in Mumbai, were excellent, and the facilities immensely impressive, from the modern art to the size of the rooms.
Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in April started from ₹11,500 (£117) for a Luxury room.
Off Western Express Highway, Santacruz (East), tel +91 22 6211 5211; tajhotels.com