City life can be daunting. Weekdays fly by quickly, and over the weekend I either hibernate or get hounded by pending chores such as bills, laundry, and 10,000 others. The list is endless!
For this reason, we often don’t think twice before packing our bags and heading out of Mumbai to unwind over the weekend. The idea is not always a vacation but to spend some quality time together. Many times, we don’t even step out of the hotel but spend the day reading or chatting up in the lounge, splashing in the pool and indulging ourselves in the long leisurely breakfast buffets. I love hotel breakfasts!
So, last month, when on a Thursday evening I shared with Ajay that we needed a break, his first response was let’s head to Goa. We’ve done that many times, so I passed. Then he suggested that why don’t we do a staycation in Mumbai. We’ve done it in the past, for instance at the InterContinental Mumbai Marine Drive over my birthday and the JW Marriott Sahar, and while the last staycation was planned more as a convenience for our early morning flight, I really enjoyed our time there.
Next question, which hotel do we book? Ajay is currently earning double elite qualifying nights on his stays at Starwood hotels. Out of the 30 brands Marriott, we’d stayed in 14, though never at a Westin. Therefore, we booked a night at the Westin Garden City in Mumbai.
The Westin is located in the Mumbai suburbs of Goregaon, right next to the Aarey forest. In this part of town, the choices for luxury hotels are quite limited. The hotel is 13 kilometres away from the Mumbai Terminal 2 airport on the northern side, so they have that city-suburb all to themselves.
Arriving at the Westin Garden City, Mumbai
We arrived at the hotel early evening around 4 p.m. I’ve seen the tall building many times, passing by, but as our Uber pulled inside the Oberoi Garden City it felt like I was entering a sanctuary of sorts. Very unlike of what one would expect in concrete Mumbai. The short drive up to the hotel was a green cover with trees all around.
It was slightly awkward after screening our handbag. Usually, Indian hotels would have a bell boy who would park the bag at the Concierge desk till you check in. However, no one was around, and we walked away to the reception, only to be called back to collect our bag. The hotel has a marvellous lobby with marble check-in counters and chic ceiling light fixtures. There was plenty of space and the high ceilings gave the lobby a very expansive feel.
We headed up to the SPG elite check-in desk to ask if our check-in was going to be processed there or at the Club. The agent processed our check-in there and informed us about an upgrade to the Executive Suite on the 21st floor. Another crew came out of nowhere and offered us cold towels and a welcome drink. The tray had a placard listing out the description and benefits of the cooler.
Aware that we had only about 24 hours here, without any further delay we headed up to our room on the 21st floor. The décor of this hotel gave it a very understated, chic look. The colour tones throughout are spread between shades of brown and off-white. Our suite this time was at the end of the corridor, a little bit of a walk that I didn’t mind.
The Executive Suite
The entrance to the suite was through a foyer. There was a half bathroom on the left. I looked outside and was awestruck with the view from the living room. The suite was situated on the corner of the hotel which faces the Highway. It had floor-to-ceiling glass windows on two sides with stunning views of the suburban Mumbai skyline.
The living room had a four-seater dining table. On a marble ledge, opposite the dining area was the tea and coffee maker. There were also some healthy nibbles such as quinoa puffs neatly arranged on the minibar tray.
Underneath was the minibar stocked with wine, beer, juices, sodas and Himalayan water. The pullout drawer was stocked with cutlery and glasses, just in case, we wanted to help ourselves with beverages from the room bar.
The living room was beautiful and furnished in a minimalist fashion, though it lacked nothing. There was a large, curved sofa that also doubled up as our daybed if we wanted to lounge around.
The striking red tall-back cosy chair added vibe to the room. The side table had fresh white carnations arranged. A large flat screen TV was fitted on the wall opposite the couch and there was a fruit platter laid out on the centre table.
On one side of the living room was a work desk with an ergonomic chair. There were ample charging ports were on the wooden side panel. The table had a menu and a booklet about the hotel facilities placed neatly. Westin hotels focus a lot on well-being and this hotel wasn’t any different. There was an outdoor jogging track if we wanted to go for a run. In case you forget to carry our workout wear, the hotel provides shoes and clothes (on a chargeable basis!). All you have to do is call up the front desk and give them the size you’re looking for. Impressive!
Access to the walk-in closet was through the living room. It was large and had lots of space to hand clothes, store bags and multiple shelves. I could actually have one person sleep there if needed.
The bathroom was luxurious and one of the nicest I’ve seen. There was a standalone bathtub on one side, his and her basins and a separate shower enclosure with a rainfall shower.
The bath amenities were from White Tea Aloe, a brand that has been specially curated for Westin Hotels worldwide. I had never heard of it before, though I must admit that the lotion was not at all dense like Aromatherapy, which is the one they provide in JW Marriott hotels. It had a light refreshing smell. I later found out that guests can also purchase White Tea Aloe products from the hotel and on Flipkart.
The bedroom could be accessed via the living room as well as the bathroom.It had a daybed overlooking the window, and a king size bed in the midst. The Westin Heavenly Bed is known as such for good reasons. The Westin Heavenly beds are made exclusively for the brand by Simmons, a bedding brand that manufactures for top hotel brands such as the Shangri-La and Marina Bay Sands hotel. The bed had a 12.5 inches thick custom-made mattress. The bedsheets were crisp, cotton and there were lots of feather and down pillows.
The daybed was my favourite corner to work, with the room window overlooked the green cover of the Aarey colony.
Overall the entire suite was beautifully designed, in a minimalist fashion, keeping every comfort aspect in mind. There was a lot of natural light flowing in, and the decor added a light and airy feel to the entire space. Though there were two things missing. A welcome letter from the hotel manager and the welcome amenity offered. Both of these are service protocols for SPG elites.
Westin Club Lounge
As a Starwood Platinum, Ajay had access to the Westin Club. A little before 6 p.m. we headed over to the lounge on the first floor. The lounge was spacious with lots of seating, and two couches, one at each end. There was a full section with just couch seating as well as we entered. However, I could spot less than ten plug points in the entire lounge that could easily accommodate about 70 guests.
Evening drinks and canapes are served between 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. When we walked in, we were asked for the room number. The buffet was still being laid down. I walked over just to check what was going to be served, and one of the lounge crew rushed in, requesting us not touch the food before it was officially time. Ouch!
The evening spread had a variety of options. Apart from crudites, a salad bar and a cheese board, there were six cold appetizers laid out. The salad with pork sausage and fig compote is worth a special mention. The hot section had two vegetarian and two non-vegetarian snacks laid out. The chicken-tikka and fish fingers were both yum and the paneer tikka tasted nice as well. These were constantly running out, and being refreshed.
Just as we settled down, one of the lounge crew came over to ask us what we’d like to drink. For a 5-star, I thought the liquor was limited and sub-par. Though I’m usually good with our homegrown Nashik wines, so I settled in for a glass of Sula white.
The servers in the lounge were attentive, chatty and happy folks. They kept our glasses topped-up throughout the two hours we were there. I noticed that the food never ran out.
We were also informed about the 26 types of superfoods right from A to Z available in the lounge spread. I quite didn’t get the concept then, but it began to make more sense over breakfast the next day.
Breakfast is served at the all-day-dining restaurant, Seasonal Tastes, on the 18th floor. Just like our room, the restaurant had ceiling-to-floor windows on three sides and offered great views all around. We caught a table by the window side overlooking the city, though there are some fab tables overlooking the greenery as well.
The breakfast buffet was standard, with a variety of Indian and Western selections. Interestingly, there was an entire section dedicated to breakfast bakery and right from freshly baked croissants to muffins to doughnuts to pain-au-chocolat there was everything I could think of but not stuff my face with.
Again, there was a focus on eating well and all through the food counters, I could see placards with the interpretation of A to Z superfoods that was available on the morning buffet.
I stuck to western options and tried an Omelette with bacon crisps.
Ajay tried his favourite Eggs Benedict. He actually called for seconds as he went taking pictures and the first ones went cold. After carefully tasting them proclaimed that the eggs were perfectly poached though he’s had better hollandaise sauce.
As expected, the restaurant was very busy in the morning, but the staff was attentive and on their toes remembering each guests preferences and serving them.
While we were eating, the duty manager stopped by and apologized for missing out on the letter and the amenity the previous day. He asked us how they could make up and we said we didn’t know how… so we left it there.
After breakfast, which was more on brunch times, when we returned to our room, we found a box of pineapple pastries with a handwritten note. That was the welcome amenity and note done wrong. This hotel brings healthy amenities to their guests, so I wondered about the sweets. The presentation was off too.
Another thing that bothered me all day long was the internet connection in our room. The wi-fi was very patchy. For a business hotel, I would expect top speed internet. Our room had a vintage router that was manufacture even before the hotel opened.
I went to the gym on Sunday morning so that I could gorge on breakfast guilt-free. The hotel has a functional, small gym.
There is a nice outdoor lap pool and kid’s pool with water slides as well, located on the 4th floor. There was also a spa and a salon in-house on the same floor, both of which I didn’t visit.
The hotel also has a business centre adjoining the Westin Club which had desktops and iMacs.
Westin has some great options to eat. Kangan the Indian restaurant has just changed their menu. The Italian restaurant Prego has some great reviews.
The lobby has a to-go deli that was stocked with salads, sandwiches and quick bites.
The Westin is a popular business hotel and a standard room night here on weekdays costs an average of INR 10,000 (USD 155) ex-taxes. The prices on the weekends are almost 25% lower, so rooms are available for approximately INR 7,500 (USD 114). This is an SPG category 3 hotel, where a reward night costs 7,000 Starpoints.
The hotel also offers staycation package that comes with complimentary breakfast, INR 1,000 as food & beverage credit and a spa discount, all for INR 8,500 (USD 130), which I think is a great price for the inclusions.
At check-out, the Executive Chef of the hotel, Rahul Dhavale, came by to meet us over a coffee and explain the story of the missing note. The welcome note written for Ajay had been placed in a different room by mistake, which was the room assigned pre-upgrade, and they had two not-so-happy guests. The second guest unhappy was the one who got a note for us. He sort of insisted that we tried out some of their food from the healthy selection and was kind to pack up some takeaway sushi and a box of handmade chocolates
It was nice to take a break from the routine and do a staycation in the city. Since we were in our home city, there was no added pressure to go out and see or do things. Barring the service hiccups, the hotel is beautiful and a green haven in Mumbai city. My favourite thing though was the beautiful views of the traffic I so hate, and if ever you decide to stay here try getting a room with the city view. You’ll love it!
Have you stayed at the Westin Mumbai Garden City? What are your thoughts?