Abode

Colaba, Mumbai, India Book from IRs4,000

Reviewed by Ben Reed
An ethical gem in the heart of southern Mumbai, with impeccably chic rooms and service that's second to none
Funky, cool, unique… words you wouldn’t necessarily associate with an Indian city hotel, but Abode is an absolute gem! Modern comforts combine with old-world charm in one of fashionable Colaba's heritage buildings. Co-founders Abedin Sham and Lizzie Chapman are champions of ethical tourism; there are treats to hand out to street children and the shawls on sale are from a women's collective. In fact, the whole design and decoration of Abode is infused with care and love for the city. From the waterfall chandelier in the hip café to the string of tiny flowers on your pillow, every detail is a joy.

Walk upstairs to the sociable lobby/café and you're greeted as a friend. Swap stories with your fellow guests over a tasty breakfast; browse travel books and treat yourself to a massage in the spa room. All the lovely parts of old Bombay are within strolling distance, and every week a new boutique or bar opens close by. This small hotel’s beauty, generosity and attention to detail exceeds that of many 5-star places - a chic haven from the cacophony of Colaba.

Highs

  • Stunning interiors with hand-crafted Indian pieces; the owners are passionate supporters of the local community
  • Great value, from the indulgent Superior Luxury rooms to the cosy budget boltholes
  • Nothing is too much trouble for the multinational staff and there are lots of thoughtful touches
  • An impressive and relaxed cafe/chill area, plus free WiFi throughout
  • Very peaceful, yet you're right in the eye of the storm - close to Mumbai's most exciting colonial sights, restaurants, bars and markets

Lows

  • Some risk of street noise (to be expected in central Mumbai)
  • The Basic rooms share (impeccably clean) toilets, but have private ensuite showers. Some are also windowless
  • Some low ceilings and the rain showers are prone to overflowing
  • Rates don't include tax

Best time to go

Visit after the monsoon months (June to September) and before the seething summer - in other words, between October and March. Be prepared for some coastal humidity all year round. In January and February the city is abuzz with festivals and fairs, the Banganga Music Festival in the Malabar Hills and the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival being the 2 biggest.

Our top tips

With a Raconteur Walks guide opening your eyes, Bombay/Mumbai is magically transformed. The young team love their job and spend a generous 3-4 hours providing insights and anecdotes into this fascinating, chaotic, larger-than-life city.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
City Style
Eco
Spa
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique hotel
  • 20
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
Room:

Rooms

Elegantly understated and impeccably kept, rooms are an unusual mix of old-world colonial charm and up-to-the-minute design.

The owners believe passionately in supporting local designers and craftsmen, and have trawled all over India to find beautiful things. Artworks have been created by local truck painters, soft furnishings crafted from block-printed fabrics, and floors laid with handmade tiles. Much, too, has been reclaimed: Burma teak salvaged from demolished houses, cushions made from vintage saris, and many fascinating objets from Chor Bazaar, from clocks to suitcases.

All rooms represent great value for money, particularly the Basic rooms: smaller than the rest, closer to the kitchens, sharing a toilet between 3 and some are windowless (but they have ensuite showers). The Simple and Luxury rooms both serve as happy mediums. But if you’re travelling in style, go for a Superior Luxury with state-of-the-art bathroom and perhaps an in-room 1920s-style rolltop tub - gorgeous.

Mattresses are supremely comfortable, bed linen is turned down at night, and thoughtful extras include flowers, candles and 2 types of towel - traditional Indian or fluffy European. In keeping with the eco spirit of the place, you also get reverse osmosis water that’s refreshed daily.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer/straighteners (on request)
  • Ipod dock
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

The lofty yet cosy lobby-lounge has a big central breakfast table, and doubles up as an all-day café. The bronze mirrored wall, booths and vintage lights are inspired by the Art Deco heritage buildings of Bombay, and it’s a brilliant place to hang out, browse books (many on travel), meet fellow travellers and check an email or two.

Breakfast is a simple but well-made affair: fresh fruit and breads, eggs any way (try the masala omelette), plus a daily changing local specialty. The rice pudding of noodles with nuts and sultanas was amazing! South Indian coffee and the house masala chai are served in enamel teapots.

As for the service, it’s hard to find fault. The multinational team are warm, polite and professional; no one disturbs you unless you ask for attention, and they go out of their way to make you feel at home.

Eating out is every Mumbaikar’s entertainment of choice; south Mumbai offers a mixture of authentic local cuisine, polished (pricey) restaurants and super-fresh Gujarati cooking. The team are happy to make recommendations and can provide maps with nearby suggested eateries.

Features include:

  • All-day café
  • Breakfast
  • Communal dining
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Rise early and get down to the Sassoon Docks - the morning catch comes in at 7am, a cacophony of colour and sound!
  • Colaba Market is lined with jewellery shops and pyramids of fresh roses. Export rejects offer great value on Fashion Street (haggle!), and Mutton Street is one of the most popular markets in Mumbai. Or escape to the old-fashioned authenticity of Chor Bazaar, crammed full of Hindu statues, old-school cameras, compasses and photographs
  • Check out the indie and electronica acts at the legendary Blue Frog club, or more traditional music at the Asiatic Society Library Steps. If you’re after Western classical music then the NCPA is the place for you
  • Arthur Bunder Road is home to several art galleries, including the innovative Volte. And don’t miss the National Gallery of Modern Art or the Jehangir Art Gallery with its Samovar Café, perfect for a quick cup of chai and a samosa
  • At dusk, the Strand Promenade is the place to be. Pop into the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel and dress up for tea: don’t forget, you’re in the old British quarter
  • Take a ferry ride to Elephanta Island, then climb up past innumerable stalls to the famous caves - the first is rich with carvings
  • Back at Abode, there’s a spa room offering innovative treatments or classic massages. The hotel works with a local school for the blind which trains wonderful therapists
  • If action-packed relaxation is more your thing, there’s a hi-tech gym nearby with which Abode has partnered

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Traditional cultures
  • Well being

Kids

Children of all ages are welcome. Families will enjoy the friendly, informal atmosphere, but should bear in mind there's no outside space for little ones to let off steam.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

The Superior Luxury and Luxury rooms each have space for an extra bed or baby cot.

Babysitting:

If parents fancy a night out, the hotel can organise a babysitter on request.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots and high chairs are available on request.

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
8/
Food
10/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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