Little big secret

Little big secret
The fresh and brightly lit lobby lounge,
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A discreet dekko at Waterstones Hotel, Mumbai

Annie M. Mathews
June 19 , 2014
05 Min Read

In the vicinity of Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, down dusty and crowded roads that are still painfully inching forward towards its flyovers and metro lines, is a profusion of large hotels, mainly from well-known chains such as ITC, Marriott, Leela, Lalit… And tucked away behind them is Waterstones Hotel, a surprising little boutique hotel. Surprising because it is relatively unknown; not so surprising when you realise that the management’s own discretion might have kept it out of the glare of the spotlight.

The change in name may also have contributed. It was the ‘Gordon House Suites’ until recently, when the Mars group took it over entirely and the hotel became eponymous with the Waterstones Country Club and Spa in the adjoining wing. If the club’s nomenclature seems a wee bit pretentious, it certainly has worked hard at living up to its name. You may not have rolling pastures and stables, but you are firmly transported away from the bustle of the teeming city. And there’s been no skimping on the facilities, all in mint condition — Olympic-size pool, many courts and games rooms, movie and music lounges, spa… Of course, there is a large gym with a bewildering array of state-of-the-art machines — one for the lower back, another for the upper, this for your arms, that for the six-pack — with personal trainers for the beautiful people who pursue the perfect form discreetly. The club is only open to members—by and large expatriates, senior corporate management and high-profile Mumbai residents — who can avail of these facilities without being hounded by the press or their fans. And here’s the ace in the pack: it’s also open to Waterstones hotel guests for the duration of their stay, the exclusivity and privacy reason enough in itself to defeat the ‘popular’ giants in the area.

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The same ambience of discretion rules over the hotel wing. Unlike most hotels, where you walk into a busy lobby area with as many members of the staff milling around as clients and their cronies, the ground level of this glass and chrome building is softened by walls of water gently washing over large pebbles and gives nothing away. Instead, you and your baggage are whisked away to a quiet reception on the second floor and conducted seamlessly from there to your room by attentive staff.

Waterstones’ ninety-five rooms and suites were thematically designed by Rachna Narang of the Mars group. By floor, you have Marine, Rain Forest, Fire, Mountain and Glacier guiding the decorative elements and colours of the rooms; the ten suites have discrete floral themes. I was in a Mountain room, on the executive floor, which has other benefits thrown in, as do the suites — airport transfers, free wi-fi, free happy-hour drinks, a complimentary spa treatment and such bare business-like necessities.

Themes and colours aside, the rooms all share the same layout. Bright, clean bathrooms with a large glass window into the room (with a privacy blind), neatly divided into sitting area and sleeping. The rather comfortable bed makes for a good night’s sleep, and is also well positioned for viewing the large-screen TV.

If I were to fill in a guest satisfaction questionnaire, I would unhesitatingly tick on excellent down the line for service, cleanliness and facilities. But if I were to nitpick, I might grumble a bit about the lack of hooks for towels or clothes in the bathroom, other than for the bathrobe they provide. Also, my pet peeve with most hotels: no colour differentiation on the labels of the little fancy bottles, which has the mildly visually impaired like me squinting despairingly to separate the bath gel from the shampoo or the hair conditioner from the moisturiser, and often getting it wrong.

And there is one oddball gesture in the elegant décor — a large white square board in the bathroom with a joke printed on it. While this is unexceptionable in itself, the jokes clearly came from the book of the extremely ribald, bordering on the politically incorrect. If I had been blond, I think I might have taken a little exception to the dumb blonde joke in my bathroom.

Besides luxuriating in this room and the club, I regaled myself with the restaurant fare. In the club wing is the all-day dining ‘The White Barn’, with a full menu of something for everybody: from crisp fresh salads, sandwiches and rolls to a multi-cuisine variety of more substantial offerings. The oriental cuisine at ‘The Moon Girl’ was outstanding. A new restaurant in the hotel wing is also open to non-hotel guests — The Waterstones Bar and Grill. The appetisers were delicious, the sea platter succulent. The crisp, glass-fronted, tasteful main restaurant adjoins the bar area, which has lounge sofas on a sprawling lawn. While the low tables clearly preclude carving your food with any dignity, I cast dignity to the winds for the joy of sitting outdoors.

This little gem of a hotel obviously comes at a price. But not only are there always sweet deals on their website, their F&B is priced reasonably enough to ensure full value for money. And there’s more to come. Long-stay guests can look forward to the 180 service apartments quietly being built on a neighbouring plot, which should be ready by 2014.

The information

Location Waterstones Hotel, Sahar, Mumbai; 1.2km from international airport, 5.2km from Santa Cruz domestic airport; 4km from Andheri railway station
Accommodation 66 lagoon-view boutique rooms, 19 executive floor rooms, 9 suites, 1 royal apartment suite
Tariff Rack rates Rs 17,000/18,000 (single/double, boutique rooms); Rs 19,000/20,000 (single/double, executive floor), Rs 29,000 (suites), and Rs 39,000 (royal apartment suite), taxes extra.
Contact 022-40906633


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