Tried & Tested

ITC Grand Central

1 Aug 2007 by business traveller

WHAT'S IT LIKE? I arrived at night and thought I had arrived at an old building but once inside I realised it was a modern hotel in Colonial style. Opened in December 2004, the ITC Grand Central was the first hotel in central Mumbai and, with its prominent tower, boasts of being the tallest hotel in India. It is owned and managed by ITC, but also comes under the Starwood banner, and has recently been rebranded as a Luxury Collection property.

WHERE IS IT? 22km from the International airport and 15km from the domestic terminal. The hotel is surrounded by old mills and buildings which are slowly being redeveloped into new commercial and residential building so the area will change dramatically in the next few years.

HOW MANY ROOMS? 242, including 56 Tower rooms, 17 ITC One rooms and two Presidential Suites.

ROOM FACILITIES Guests in all rooms are given vouchers for complimentary laundry of up to four pieces, while Tower and ITC One rooms include lounge access, airport transfers, and complimentary breakfast. My Towers room was traditionally furnished, of average size, and included a large bed with duvet and choice of pillows. Beside the bed was an eyemask, earplugs and oils for sound sleep or stress relief. There was a comfy chair and a desk (with convenient desk-height multi-region plugs). The room also had a large wardrobe, minibar, tea and coffee facilities and a safe. One nice feature is that if you pick up the phone the TV volume automatically drops. The bathroom was fitted out in black marble with separate bath and shower. Local toiletries were provided and there were a good selection of amenities in case you had left any at home. Surprisingly for a five-star hotel, rather than mini bottles the shower included an environmentally-friendly plastic soap dispenser with shower gel, shampoo and conditioner. The tower includes two women-only floors called Eva with additional security. ITC One rooms are larger, with separate living and working/resting areas. Wifi is available in all rooms, priced at Rs 150 (£1.80) plus tax for 15 minutes, and Rs 600 for 24 hours.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS There are five restaurants and bars in the main building of the hotel. Hornby's Pavilion is the venue for breakfast from 7-10.30am (Indian, western and Asian – my dim sum with pancakes and bacon attracted some strange looks) and thereafter offers all-day international dining (buffet or à la carte). Frederick's Lounge overlooks the courtyard and serves drinks and tea/coffee, while the Shanghai Club at the end of the building past the main meeting rooms is great for excellent Asian fine dining, and WG's Kebabs & Kurries is a busy restaurant which does exactly what is says. Finally there is Dublin, a small and dimly lit bar to relax, drink and if you are hungry have some Indian snacks. Tower or ITC One guests have access to the top-floor lounge "Point of View", with views over Mumbai. There are some meeting rooms and two outside verandahs to sit on if it is not too windy (cocktail hour 1800-2000). Room service also operates over 24 hours.

BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES There are a good number of meeting rooms, with capacities ranging from ten to 800 for cocktails or 450 for a conference. The largest space is the Grand Ballroom, which has its own lobby and pre-function room and is lavishly decorated with murals and chandeliers. For smaller events, the Garden Terrace on the L1 level is an airy venue with a domed ceiling and plenty of natural light. Also on the L1 level is a small business centre, which is open 24 hours a day and has modern terminals for use, as well as offering a full range of secretarial facilities and a high-tech boardroom. If you forget your phone charger don't panic as the business centre has one for most types of phone battery.

LEISURE FACILITIES There is a wellness centre on Level L2. This is spacious with modern cardiovascular machines and weights. There are separate changing rooms for men and women with sauna and steam room as well as treatment room. There is a good size pool which is mostly indoors. Hairdressing is also available.

VERDICT A modern hotel with good facilities, excellent restaurants and a great location in the centre of Mumbai.

PRICES Fully flexible rates for a midweek stay in mid-September started from US$325, room only.

CONTACT ITC Grand Central, 287 Dr B Ambedkar Road, Parel, Mumbai 400 012; tel +91 22 2410 1010; itcwelcomgroup.in.

Julian Gregory

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