Mumbai’s Taj Mahal Palace Hotel: Live like a modern maharajah

Experience the legendary service and stunning décor of Mumbai’s Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. (Supplied)
Updated 01 November 2019

Mumbai’s Taj Mahal Palace Hotel: Live like a modern maharajah

MUMBAI: You might have heard of the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower. In 2008, it was the center of a series of coordinated attacks in Mumbai by members of the Islamist militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba. The pictures of smoke coming through the massive red Florentine Gothic 240 feet central dome of the hotel became the symbol of India’s commercial capital being under siege.

In April this year, “Hotel Mumbai” — directed by Anthony Maras and starring Dev Patel — chronicled the courage of the hotel’s staff during those horrific events (the staff’s selfless service has also been the subject of a Harvard Business School case study). The hotel is an emblem of Mumbai’s heritage and resilience.




The hotel is an emblem of Mumbai’s heritage and resilience. (Supplied)

According to legend, the industrialist J. N. Tata decided to build the hotel early in the 20th century when he was refused entry at The Watson Hotel, then the city’s grandest. The Taj Mahal Palace was constructed in 1903, and is still considered the grandest hotel in India.  It sits across from the Gateway of India (although the hotel actually predates that iconic monument). It was from the steps of the hotel that Lord Mountbatten announced India’s independence.

Following the 2008 attacks, the hotel underwent a reported $30 million refurbishment, reopening in August 2010. And the improvement work didn’t stop there; a new spa and modernized gym were unveiled last year.




The industrialist J. N. Tata decided to build the hotel early in the 20th century when he was refused entry at The Watson Hotel. (Supplied)

But the hotel remains instantly recognizable as the “Grand Old Lady of Mumbai.” With its Oriental, Florentine and Moorish architecture — complete with alabaster ceilings, onyx columns, silk hand-knotted carpets and marble floodways — it really does feel like a palace. On its walls are some of India’s most important artworks; its Belgian chandeliers are priceless; and the Edwardian-Gujarati trellises are crafted with precision. It has hosted the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Oprah Winfrey, Mahatma Gandhi and Bill and Hilary Clinton. Ruttie Jinnah — the wife of the founder of Pakistan, Mohammed Ali Jinnah — had a permanent suite at the Taj.




With its Oriental, Florentine and Moorish architecture, the hotel really does feel like a palace. (Supplied)

In the 1970s, the Tower was added so that the hotel could accommodate more guests and business-friendly facilities, but the Palace (referred to as “The Heritage Wing”) is the one to stay at.

The Taj, as it is fondly called, is where locals go to celebrate special occasions — its ballroom is still the most prestigious wedding location in Mumbai  — and where tourists come to experience Indian hospitality. All of the generously sized rooms in the Heritage Wing enjoy  butler service, and comprehensive attention-to-detail — for example, leaving a bookmark next to your current bedside read.




The hotel reopened in August 2010. (Supplied)

The regal poolside (on the lobby level) is a great place to enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner, but for afternoon tea the Sea Lounge is a must. Its art deco furniture and views of the Arabian Sea will transport you back to the days of Colonial India. 

The hotel has several restaurants (warning: they are, unsurprisingly, among the most-expensive in the city) including Mumbai’s finest Japanese venue in the city, Wasabi by Morimoto, and Masala Kraft, which is all about modern Indian cuisine.




The hotel has hosted the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Oprah Winfrey and Hilary Clinton. (Supplied)

But since the hotel is located in the wealthy residential area of Colaba, many of the city’s best eateries are within walking distance. As, indeed, are some of Mumbai’s best shops, from lifestyle store Good Earth, to the by-appointment-only jewellers, Gem Palace. Plus the city’s art district Kala Ghoda is just around the corner.

Any stay at this Indo-Saracenic beauty, with accommodation straight from the days of the Raj, and its deservedly world-famous hospitality, really will leave you feeling like royalty.


A hairy situation: Facial hair proves a hot topic as coronavirus worries grow

According to the CDC, beards can interfere with the correct usage of masks and respirators. (File/Shutterstock)
Updated 31 March 2020

A hairy situation: Facial hair proves a hot topic as coronavirus worries grow

  • We take a look at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s advice on mustaches, mutton chops and suave soul patches

DUBAI: With conflicting news reports from media outlets around the world stating that men should — or don’t need to — shave off their prized facial hair in order to protect themselves from the novel coronavirus, we take a look at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s advice on mustaches, mutton chops and suave soul patches.

Earlier this month, the Welsh Ambulance service advised that medical personnel should “reach for the razor (as) facial hair can disrupt the effectiveness of personal protective equipment” in a tweet and the head of France's ER doctors association advised medical staff to shave off their beards for hygiene reasons. However, these measures are mainly aimed at medical staff who rely on masks and respirators, while advice for the general public has not yet touched upon facial hair as a potential danger in the spread of coronavirus.

What’s clear, however, is the fact that beards can interfere with the correct usage of masks and respirators.

Masks and respirators are being utilized all around the world in a bid to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. But according to a recently resurfaced 2017 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) infographic, one’s facial hair can interfere with how effective these filtering items are.

The infographic shows 36 different facial hair styles and provides names for each of them — some of which could be unknown to even the savviest barbers. It also tells you which facial hair styles would and would not work well with a “filtering facepiece respirator” like the P2/N95 respirator, that may protect you against small airborne microbes if worn properly.

While handlebars, lampshades and soul patches are deemed good to go, other facial hair styles, such as mutton chops and a full beard are advised against.

According to the infographic, facial hair can pose a risk to the effectiveness of masks because it may interfere with respirators that rely on a tight facepiece seal to achieve maximum protection.

In short, making sure there’s a good seal between the mask and the wearer’s face is a vital part of respiratory protection, however facial hair can compromise that seal.

The CDC recommends that any facial hair that can fit entirely under a close-fitting respirator should be fine. Where it looks like you might have some problems is if your facial hair is long enough or covers enough of your face that it pushes against the seal of the respirator, thereby allowing airborne particles to leak through.

However, it’s important to note that the CDC only recommends facial masks and facepiece respirators for those who work in the healthcare industry and those who are coming into contact with people who could be potentially infected with the disease, as well as individuals with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19.