Le Sutra

Khar (Bandra), Mumbai, India Book from IRs6,500

Reviewed by Arati Carroll
A lovely, quirky art hotel tucked away in a leafy lane of a vibrant Mumbai suburb. Good food, great location
Look out for this little hotel or you might miss it altogether. However, once you’re past its unassuming frontage there’s plenty to capture your attention. Conceived as an 'art hotel', this little suburban sanctuary is a great entry point for first-time travellers to India who want a rapid initiation into its art, philosophy and culture. Small enough to be a guesthouse but with the conveniences of a large hotel, including a spa and concierge services, Le Sutra packs quite a punch with its 14 original and immaculate themed rooms.

From the minute you enter, there’s plenty to look at - amorphous sculptures, installations tucked into niches, literary quotations scribbled on walls and intricately inlaid flooring. The owners mobilised over 150 artists, designers and visualisers from across the country to help with the design, which was spearheaded by Mitali Bajaj of Dr. Art + Design, the Mumbai design studio. But don’t expect expensive, auction-worthy pieces; many of the artists were art students.

Set in the lively northern suburb of Khar (adjacent to Bandra), Le Sutra has fantastic access to some of the city's most popular restaurants and vibrant bars. A hop, skip and jump away is Carter Road, a waterfront promenade that comes alive at dusk thanks to its long strip of street-style eateries. It’s also perfect for that early morning jog. In a city filled with either pricey signature chains or indistinctive mid-range hotels, Le Sutra is a cool addition to the pack.

Highs

  • Close to Mumbai’s most popular suburb, Bandra, which has a thriving nightlife, cosmopolitan feel and great shopping
  • The design concept makes for an interesting stay. Ask for a guided tour of the rooms, each a one-off, with a unique carved chair
  • Two restaurants, serving excellent food: Out of the Blue offers Indian fare, and is super popular with locals; Olive has Mediterranean meals in a cool Ibiza setting
  • The themed rooms, based around the 3 gunas of Hindu philosophy, are full of beautiful detail: Buddha frescoes, horse-head beds, mirror sculptures, lotus-pond showers. Great value for money too
  • Books on Indian art, philosophy and yoga in your room

Lows

  • You might be disappointed by the lack of facilities: there is no swimming pool or gym
  • Not child friendly; best suited to single travellers or couples
  • It can get noisy during the day, and we've heard that the next door bar plays loud music until after midnight on Thursday-Saturday nights
  • No inspiring views from the bedrooms, despite the hotel’s proximity to the sea
  • Service can be laid-back but overall is very friendly and helpful

Best time to go

The period between November and February is the most pleasant time to visit Mumbai. Although there isn't a trace of winter here, the temperature drops, the skies are blue and the humidity is low. The rest of the year is split between heat and rain. The months leading up to the Monsoon (March to June) are particularly hot and humid with temperature averaging the late 30s (degrees Celsius) and humidity in the oppressive 80s and 90s. Between June and October rains lash the city, and on days of heavy rain (of which there are many) the city's infrastructure can often struggle to cope, making it rather inconvenient for visitors to get around.

Our top tips

Even though it may seem like a bustling metropolis, many of Mumbai’s neighbourhoods have a lot of individual character, so make sure you explore. Bandra, for instance, contains quaint East Indian villages with their Catholic churches, picturesque cottages and local bakeries that are increasingly threatened by modernisation.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
City Style
Foodie
Spa
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 14
  • Restaurant (open daily)
  • Over 16s only
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
Room:

Rooms

The rooms at Le Sutra are spread across 3 floors, each themed according to the 3 gunas of Hindu philosophy - Tamas, Rajas and Sattva. Gunas are a person's personality traits and these have been translated by the hotel’s designers into every feature of the room, from colour palette to painting. And each room has a unique carved wooden chair; perhaps a swan or a yoga pose.

Every room tells a story and art is everywhere, from the inlaid flooring to the door handles, even the bathroom mirrors. And look out for surprise design features such as a pair of brightly coloured fibreglass parrots on the tree outside your window.

Tamas is associated with opulence and excessiveness, so the rooms on this floor are elaborate. Maya (illusion) is the only single; a heavily mirrored room with a low sunken bed. Vaasna (sensuality) is designed for romance with erotic art and a see-through bathroom.

The Rajas floor is centred on action and passion, and the rooms here are more 'Indian' with their colourful kitsch. Kathak, named for the classical Indian dance form, is decorated in rich blues and reds, and has a lovely window seat. Shrinagar (adornment) has a funky mirror installation representing self love.

Sattva implies austerity and the rooms on this floor are my favourite, for their relative minimalism. Shuddhi (purity) is a haven of cool whites and blues, with a fascinating floor inlay that represents an ancient water purification system. The Nirvan (ultimate consciousness) room comes with a stunning frescoed wall depicting Buddha’s journey to self actualisation.

Contemporary bathrooms are more basic in design, but still swanky with hairdryers and toiletries from all-natural Indian brand Khadi. Bathtubs are found in Maya, Vaasna, Taal and Ashoka; other rooms are shower only.

All rooms have plasma TVs, cupboards and minibars (sadly with no alcohol, although it can be ordered in). The beds are queensized and comfortable. A pillow menu was promised but none was made available.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Coffee maker
  • Dvd player
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Iron (on request)
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

Urban legend (happily perpetuated by the hotel’s owners) has it that any couple who comes to Out of the Blue on their first dinner date, ends up getting married. But that’s not the only reason the restaurant attached to Le Sutra is so popular. With its alfresco dining and the happy marriage of Indian and western flavours, it is packed most nights. Famous for its Indianised fondues and well-priced cocktails, the atmosphere is always convivial.

Breakfast (included) is also served at the restaurant. It is a simple affair, with fresh fruit, cereal, breads, cold cuts and a small à la carte menu of omelettes and French toast. The all-day room service menu is identical to that of Out of the Blue so if you’d prefer to eat in your room, order away.

If you feel like something more extravagant, try Olive next door. Its Ibiza-style setting and Mediterranean fare has always drawn in the crowds and Thursday nights are when the neighbourhood’s best lookers come out to play. Adjoining Out of the Blue is Deliciae, an all-day semi-outdoor dessert cafe where any time of day you will find groups of men and women grabbing a quick coffee or a pick-me-up tiramisu. Also available is standard bakery fare like breads, cakes and buns.

For a little local flavour, the choices are almost confusing. Street food is available aplenty down the road on the Carter Road Promenade, which also houses a creperie, frozen yoghurt bar and several coffee shops. But if you want something special try Pali Village café, a charming bistro that’s a 10-minute taxi away. Escobar, a terrace bar and restaurant (it has a 77-foot bar) is also a 10-minute taxi, as is Salt Water café, an all-day delicatessen.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Coffee maker
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Pop into Angdai Day Spa on the first floor for a quick pick-me-up; it specialises in body massages, foot and hand care, including manicures and pedicures

  • Order a yoga teacher in. There’s a gallery on the rooftop where you can practice your suryanamaskaras (headstands)

  • Get the concierge to supply you with a list of the neighbourhood’s best restaurants and bars. Consult the TimeOut magazine in your room for current entertainment options, including plays and concerts

  • Head downtown to South Mumbai, with its highly visible British influence. Check out the Victoria Terminus station, an outstanding example of Victorian Gothic architecture. Stroll through the Prince of Wales Museum then up to The Gateway of India. Go bargain hunting in the street shops on high-energy Colaba Causeway and end the day with a cold beer at the ever-popular (and raucous) Café Leopold

  • For an authentic flavour of the city, get a more personalised introduction. For heritage walks around Bandra, or across town in the older parts of South Mumbai, contact Beyond Bombay or Bombay Heritage Walks

  • Hop on a boat and head to Elephanta Caves across the harbour from the Gateway of India. They date back to at least the 8th century and contain some of the most striking collections of rock art in India. Our advice is to take the air-conditioned boat, the price of which includes an English-speaking guide

  • Jet-lagged? Curl up in bed with a movie. The concierge has DVDs available

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Yoga

Kids

Le Sutra doesn’t profess to be child friendly and it isn’t. There are no cots or extra beds, this is definitely a hotel for adults.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

7/
Rooms
8/
Food
7/
Service
7/
Value
7/
Overall

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