WHAT’S IT LIKE? Built 19 years ago in the north of the city, the first of the Leela properties has undergone a massive redevelopment over the past three years. This year has already seen the reopening of the Royal Club floor after a major refit (at a cost of US$60,000 per room), and in May work started on redeveloping the spa, health centre and the three-tier lobby. Once the work has been completed a total of US$40 million will have been spent on this flagship property.
WHERE IS IT? The Leela Kempinski Mumbai is 25km north of the city centre but only a ten-minute drive from the domestic terminal and 1.5km from the international airport. When the hotel was built there was nothing around it but new developments are springing up and the north of Mumbai is becoming a business centre in its own right. Getting into the city can take an hour and a half in heavy traffic.
HOW MANY ROOMS? 396, including 308 Premiere rooms, 45 Royal Club rooms, 13 Royal Club Parlour rooms, 29 suites and the enormous Maharaja Suite at 137 sqm, with a kitchen, spa bath, 24-hour butler and adjoining suite (US$2,200 a night).
ROOM FACILITIES Rooms have traditional décor, with cream walls, deep red carpets and dark wood furnishings. All rooms have an electronic safe, two dual-line telephones, flat screen TVs, minibar, broadband high-speed internet access, Rs 899 (£11) for 24 hours, wake-up call service on the TV and an alarm clock, 24-hour room service, Penhaligon’s toiletries, and tea and coffee-making facilities. Guests staying in Royal Club rooms (27.5 sqm) on the 8th floor have access to a dedicated check-in desk, a private butler service (with complimentary pressing of one suit), a 24-hour business centre and the private 24-hour Royal Club lounge serving snacks and drinks, cocktails, afternoon tea and a buffet breakfast in the Stella restaurant. Royal Club guests also have access to the two meeting rooms on the Royal Club floor. The floor has just undergone a huge renovation (completed in January) and has stylish décor with relaxed lighting and large sofas. My room was on the sixth floor overlooking the main road. At first I could not work out how to plug in my phone charger but the desk slides out to reveal the different international plug options. The brown marble bathroom had a vertical window through to the room, a walk-in shower with two fixed heads and a separate bath.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES Wireless internet is available in public spaces at Rs 450 per hour and Rs 899 per 24 hours and there is a 24-hour business centre with two computers and secretarial services. Royal Club floor guests have access to the business centre on the eighth floor, including 30 minutes’ free use a day of its three computers and two hours’ free access to the two meeting rooms on the floor, which can hold up to 12 people. The grand ballroom (1,090 sqm) holds 800 theatre-style or 1,200 for a reception, while five smaller ballrooms can each hold up to 150 people. There are seven other meeting rooms and the terrace garden, which can take 100 people for an outdoor event.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS Breakfast is served in the 24-hour Citrus restaurant, overlooking the terrace and pool, which has a huge range of international buffet options including Indian, Italian, Japanese and English. Royal Club guests can eat their breakfast in Stella, the new Italian restaurant on the eighth floor, which is only open for dinner to other guests – I recommend chef Maximiliano Cotilli’s light creations. Other dinner options include Indian fine dining at Jamavar, which is located just off the lobby and has two private dining areas behind screens, and Chinese at The Great Wall, while the lobby lounge is a nice area to have a coffee and a snack. For evening drinks Six Degrees is very sleek, with warm red lighting and tall bar stools. Amnesia, the hotel’s club on the lobby level, has energetic locals dancing to an interesting mix of hip-hop and Indian music.
LEISURE FACILITIES Renovations on the 465 sqm spa began in May and if it is anything like the Bangalore property, then it will be a real treat. The gym is mirrored all the way round and there are saunas for men and women, three massage rooms and two treatment rooms and a relaxation room, as well as a squash court. The pool is set in a landscaped garden with sun chairs and a waterfall wall. Jogging maps are available but the poor air quality in Indian cities would put me off a run in the park.
VERDICT If you don’t have any meetings in the centre of Mumbai then this hotel is the best bet. It has everything a business traveller needs but the journey into Mumbai is tedious and best avoided unless you want to explore. The service is top class and the new Italian restaurant, Stella, on the Royal Club floor is a real treat.
PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in mid-September started from US$340.
CONTACT The Leela Kempinski Mumbai, Sahar, Mumbai 400 059, tel +91 22 6691 1234, theleela.com.