Mumbai has been the inspiration for many stories and several movies – and equally as many soulful quotes. Artists have called it their motivation. Mumbaikars say there is no place like it and continually fall in love with their city over and over again.
Migrants arrive daily from all parts of India in search of a better life. It's regarded as a city that rewards anyone willing to
work hard; it is the 'City of Dreams' as well known for its slums as it is for Bollywood, with sixty percent of the population living in them. It's chaotic, noisy, smelly, an attack on all of the senses – and totally captivating! There is something that gets under your skin.
Scroll through the gallery below to see more of Mumbai:
Colaba in Mumbai's most southernmost point is
Mumbai's main tourist enclave, it's also a trendy hang-out. The charming lanes of Colaba are lined with some of the city's plushest shops. Hotelier Samyukta Nair's edited collection of Indian fashion and housewares at Clove is tucked away in a leafy 19th-century building next to the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel.
Nearby, accessories brand Nappa Dori sells colourful handmade leather totes and steamer trunks. Meanwhile, the Indian-based designer Nirav Modi is known as India's "king of bling" for his exquisite, destination-inspired jewellery, has a shop here and New York.
The Le Mill concept store is a one-stop destination for design, fashion, books, and beauty products, with a florist and a cafe. Founded by four women, including Cecilia Morelli Parikh, an ex-Bergdorf Goodman fashion buyer, it is housed in a
vast former rice mill.
There, a carefully curated collection of international hip fashion favourites, such as Isabel Marant and Alexander McQueen, Chloe, Celine, and Balenciaga are on offer alongside local Indian contemporary jewellery, fashion and design stationery, furnishings and perfume in an elegant whitewashed space by architect Ashiesh Shah.
Kulture Shop is a platform for leading and upcoming Indian graphic designers and illustrators based in India and around the world. The modern shop is full of
colourful, modern graphic prints. Street artist Jas Charanjiva is the co-founder, whose Pink Lady mural is found scattered around the city; it's an all-pink, sari-clad Indian woman wearing gold jewellery and a knuckle duster that reads "BOOM". The painting represents women in India who struggle for equality. Do spend a morning meandering the labyrinthine Mangaldas Market in Kalbadevi for silk, chanderi, and banarsi fabrics, kurta, dupatta, and fancy sarees. Head to Chor Bazaar or Thieves Market for everything you don't need and more! Legend has it that robbers disposed of their ill-gotten gains here.
You need a good refuel after all that retail therapy. Kala Ghoda Cafe, a bakery, wine bar, and art gallery all in one is housed in an early 20th-century barn where l
ight floods through its skylights. Although the cafe opened in 2009, it's already a Mumbai staple that feels as if it's been there forever. It has a laid back colonial vibe and a delicious mix of superfoods and tasty Indian staples. On closer inspection, you can see the modern design detailing.
The Thonet bentwood style wooden chairs are from TON in the Czech Republic, and ceramic and acrylic vintage lamps come from Sweden and Finland. Specialist cured 3D tiles have been made by a small Dutch company called 'DTILE for the serving bars and do check out the fantastic basins in the bathrooms.
Take a respite from the heat and bustle at the Taj Mahal Teahouse on St John Baptist Road near Bandra Reclamation, a haven for tea lovers, and Blue Tokai's locally sourced, organic, fair-trade coffee maker was one of the first coffee shops, is an institution.
Dine at Aditi Dugar's Masque restaurant in Lakshmi Mills, a once buzzing cotton mill district, where you will find it [eventually], through a small inconspicuous doorway. Masque is an uber-cool, cavernous industrial space resplendent in muted hues and a bold, minimal, modernist aesthetic.
A perfect setting for Chef Prateek Sadhu's ten-course seed to table seasonal tasting menu; his food is
a contemporary take on traditional Indian cuisine. The space is designed by celebrated architect Ashiesh Shah, who design shines without overshadowing the beautifully presented and delicious cuisine that bursts with flavour.
Glam it up at the Four Seasons and the St. Regis rooftops for sundowners. Wink at the Taj President Hotel is the latest bar from the designers of London's Zuma. It's meshwork inspired by the Gate of India and a suspended glass bar.
Soho House's Club floor serves up views over the Arabian sea and city, with the bar, a 33 seat cinema and a gym overlooking the sea. The House Kitchen serves up classics and incredibly delicious Indian-inspired food and drinks.
The Library is a lovely place to relax.
Be warned: you may not make it outside the door! But that's the best excuse to return to this addictive city.