I entered my room and was surprised to find what I suspect to be a paan truffle. That confirmed the faith that if you want to indulge in true India-inspired luxury, this would be a good place to begin. What place is this again? Nestled in Mumbai’s bustling new Central Business District, the Sofitel Mumbai BKC (Bandra Kurla Complex), or to me, the place where I was introduced by way of welcome sweets to the paan or the Indian, betel leaf mouth freshener flavored chocolate truffle. Because you see, it is these finer delicious details that take one deeper than the obvious signs of hospitality, which rest within the many smiling managers’ crow’s feet.
I’m afraid the above example is one of the many signifying Sofitel’s iconic linking of European luxury with local flavor. Which means I am nowhere close to done enthusing about the countless instances that fuse Indian tradition with French flair. Not when India’s first flagship boasts super, stupa-esque chaises, paisley patterns and splendidly high ceilings, which greet you at the entrance. Or bid you goodbye (when you begrudgingly part), which ever you like. The greatest talking point, however, remains the lobby’s enigmatic crystal and glass chandeliers or symbols of the twirl in women’s gowns from post Depression galas. “We have worked with artists from France as well as India to bring that unique touch to the hotel,” confirms French designer and woman behind the property’s avant garde aesthetics, Isabelle Miaja. So there’s that. And with its finance district backdrop the hotel continues to work well for business travelers.
And speaking of business, the neighborhood isn’t all it’s at. At least not in my case! My sprawling 342/369 sq. ft. chamber of an accommodation (Luxury Room – $240 +taxes) that begins with a part peek-in-the-loo glass part wardrobe lined opening is plenty work-friendly, starting with the complimentary Internet access to the stylish tapered desk lamp. There’s also a Francis Francis for illy machine, which comes with the compliments of high tech entertainment, emphasis on “high tech” as iPads can be directly connected here while iPods there and what not. Also, when I say loo, do not be mistaken. Kama amenities and comfortable puffies await besides a luxuriant bath, a modest magazine and all things essential in between. But mine is just one of the 302 hardwood timbered examples that lie within the property.
Millesime in French means, ‘a good vintage’. The reason why I’m saying this is because the hotel’s art de vivre expands and (likely) improves with its 31 suites and the Club Millesime located on the topmost, 14th floor of the hotel. Inspired by Indian motifs and modern lush open spaces, the private lounge accessible to guests staying in club or suite category of rooms offers complimentary late check-out, private club breakfasts, evening wine tastings, a minibar with a selection of Millesime champagne and wines, and numerous VIP services. As for the former, I have one advice to give, suite de résistance. With two bedrooms, an in-suite office and beautifully designed living spaces, Sofitel’s magnificent Imperial Suite is aptly christened a dramatic address-within-an-address.
While I can’t help lust after club lounge access upon my next visit I must mention the other thing that had the same effect. Familiar lunchtime rumble led to my first Jyran visit but almost as I took a seat, I was informed the famously romantic Tandoor Dining setting is best experienced come sunset. Still, I couldn’t anticipate regret for my view of the distressed wood dotted expanse was plenty enticing even without amorous premonitions. That said, Sofitel’s other eateries come close, what with Le Bar Diamantaire and its unique wine tower (also the country’s first) or Tuskers and its Vegetarian Dining Bar status. Speaking of, dinner there was, hmm, how shall I put this, stimulating? I promise a more eloquent account in the near future.
What I can recount vividly though is a tour of its épicerie, pâtisserie and chocolaterie, Artisan and might I add the place is absolutely impressive. As is Pondichery Café! I know this from my time spent having breakfast there. Even at 10 am, the round-the-clock restaurant portrays a clear picture of the city that you’re in, its people dotted atmosphere crisscrossed by the calm of attentive servers who are perfectly capable of conjuring up frothy cappuccinos and French Press pots with equal deftness. The hotel also houses L’OH pool and bar for lovers of poolside decks. So whether it is a good book you’ve been nursing or a light snack and crisp beverage that you crave, if Mumbai weather allows, you can settle by the serene open air space. With five restaurants and bars you’d almost think Sofitel is striving to create a world of luxe within its building for indulgent inhabitants.
As if lolling by L’OH isn’t leisurely enough, Sofitel Mumbai, besides poolside recreation offers So Fit, the brand’s trademark fitness center. So if you’re looking for a go at some state-of-the-art cardiac machines while there is tons of natural light streaming in, this 4.6 meter high ceiling kitted universe is a great place for indulging in an array of fitness selections. If, however, indulgence for you means slumping on massage beds in treatment rooms, then you’d be happy to know that you and I are no different. Incorporating the property’s art nouveau chic, the So Spa at the hotel has already been a center of our rejuv-loving attention. The So Amazing (if I may call it that) spa’s Cinq Mondes and Gemology cosmetics are complimented by original music and exclusive signature treatments.
While aforementioned Club Millesime might make a mesmerizing venue for work meetings, the hotel houses a dedicated 2nd floor of meeting space with 8 meeting rooms, each designed to support a string of events. There is the usual business space suspect, the Business Center, although with Loft Kitchen in tow. What this means to the humdrum hating high fliers is an interactive kitchen for not just coffee breaks but innovative cocktails galore. Doing business has never been so stylish! Which is no surprise as the meeting spaces and banquet rooms at Sofitel BKC pay tribute to French heritage and are named after famous historical personalities and places in France. Salon Louvre for instance, is inspired by the Musée du Louvre. Salon Opera is a station of the Paris Metro and when combined with Salon Louvre becomes the 250 accommodating Magnifique Grand Salon Ballroom.
Did you know?
Not only is the hotel uber conducive to business, it is strategically located to provide convenient access to both the domestic and international terminals of Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport. But convenience aside, it is the French Hospitality Brand’s artistic inclination that I found most appealing. It has already established its luxury quotient and with its “Café Parisien” called Artisan, not only is it attempting to blend the best of French with Indian aspiration, it is enthralling or at least hoping to with novel concepts. Now when I say ‘novel’ I mean ‘neon’ and ‘concepts’ could just as well read cocktails! The bistro is set to move beyond wine and coffee and offer connoisseurs neon cocktails besides also including talent, homegrown and otherwise in arty showcases. No wonder then that they say (and I concur), at Sofitel, “Life is Magnifique.” Fin.
Sofitel Mumbai BKC
C-57, Bandra Kurla Complex
400 051 – Mumbai