In a city that struggles to find great real estate, the founders of Soho House Mumbai have arguably found the best spot they possibly could – a lovely building overlooking Juhu beach. Post a major clean-up exercise, the beach looks better than ever before, so looking out at it from the ground floor restaurant Cecconi’s alfresco area (read our review of Cecconi’s here) is a delight in breezy evenings. The rooftop (with a lovely café and small pool) and some of the rooms – should you choose to stay at the property – also have a fantastic bird’s eye view of the sea and miles of clean sand, stretching beyond Versova.
I did stay at the property, just to get a feel of spending a day at the House, and it’s safe to say I came away impressed. Adding to 22 existing Houses in UK, Europe and North America, the Soho House Mumbai is the 23rd one, and is the first in all of Asia. The ethos of the House around the world remains the same, I’m told, but the design does pick up on cues from local culture. So for the Mumbai House, director of Soho House Design, Linda Boronkay, has used block printed fabric from Rajasthan and a smattering of locally sourced antiques and furniture. Even the artwork used around the House – curated by the head of collections for Soho House, Kate Bryan – largely features South East Asian artists, including homegrown names like Subodh Gupta, Bharti Kher and Thukral & Tagra.
The rooftop is instantly my favourite space, with its tiled floors, wooden furniture and striped chairs replicating a Mediterranean oasis in the middle of a chaotic Mumbai suburb. It’s highly Instagrammable, as the millennials (many of whom you’ll spot working out of here through the afternoon, armed with MacBooks and a mug of coffee) would say – except that photography is discouraged as a way of respecting members’ privacy. It’s a welcome respite, if you ask me. I can’t think of too many places I’ve been to in recent time where selfies and group photos aren’t being clicked every few minutes.
This space is operational through the day, so you can drop in for breakfast (their coconut yoghurt is divine, as are the avocado toast and their various egg preparations). As the day progresses, you’ll find the staff handing you a more satiating lunch menu, while evenings see the bar in full swing. Most importantly, from my perspective, this is also a great space to work out of. I spent most of my afternoon (before and after lunch) here. The pool is really, really tiny, and more guests seemed content to just laze on the roomy deck beds. I chose one too, ordered myself a cold brew coffee, and was one among a whole bunch of youngsters furiously typing away on laptops. Under-27 members are an important group for Soho House, and they are offered memberships at great, discounted rates, so you’ll see a lot of freelancers working by themselves, or young entrepreneurs hosting meetings.
I chose to have my lunch at the elegant members-only restaurant, which serves the same menu as the rooftop, but in a drastically different ambience. You’d think it’ll be more formal in here, but Soho House’s staff prevents that from being the case. They’re a cheerful bunch who will make it a point to know you on a first-name basis, ask about your day and have great suggestions for what to order. It’s more like eating in your living room, really. And dining alone isn’t awkward at all.
In fact, there’s a lot you can do alone at the House. There’s a fantastically curated set of events to attend – covering food and drink, art, design, fashion, film and music. Then there’s the gorgeous screening room that has 32 armchairs and lets you order drinks and snacks while you watch a movie – the programme ranges from Bimal Roy’s Devdas to the Japanese zombie comedy, One Cut Of The Dead. One floor above, the well-equipped gym does well to place treadmills and cross trainers facing the beach – you won’t even realize how much you’ve accomplished as you stare out at the tranquil waves. If the machines don’t excite you, sign up for special sessions that include boxing with in-house trainer Rajiv Dutt or a boot camp with celebrity trainer Cindy Jourdain. You can cool off with a juice from the House Press juice bar.
As for the room itself, it’s everything you’d want it to be. The muted colour scheme makes use of block-printed Rajasthani fabric, antiques and local furniture, the flooring is an eco-friendly sisal carpet, while the bathrooms feature vintage mirrors, marble fittings and coloured cement tiles. The selection of Cowshed toiletries is perhaps the largest I’ve seen in a hotel room. Marshall speakers pair easily with your phone’s Bluetooth to play the music of your choice, and small touches include tea- and coffee-inspired chocolates created especially for Soho House by Delhi-based brand All Things Nice.
To be honest, you’re going to pay a little more for the room than you might have hoped for, but be assured that you’ll get the best quality for it. As for memberships, sure, the facilities are limited compared to other such spaces in the city, but if you add up the costs of a great gym, work space and event and movie outings, it doesn’t sound exorbitant. Moreover, as with Soho House properties around the world, this one too offers a great chance to network within the creative community.
Note: Memberships start at Rs 1,10,000 annually for the local house, with a deal of Rs 55,000 annually and Rs 13,750 quarterly for U27 memberships. Local house membership gives you access to all of the facilities at Soho House Mumbai: spaces for eating and drinking, a screening room, bedrooms, House Gym with a workout studio and a rooftop pool and bar. Bedroom rates range from Rs13,000-41,000 per night; they are available for non-members as well.