With its rooftop swimming-pool, restaurant, bar and gym, the Intercontinental is the perfect place to view the sweeping skyline of Mumbai which, high above the poverty and pollution, could be mistaken for Hong Kong or Miami.

In reality, Mumbai has a far more classic skyline than either of those two places, with a long row of low-rise, dilapidated art deco-style colonial blocks and only the occasional skyscraper or reclaimed land development to blot out the view of the Arabian sea as the sun sets.

The hotel itself takes up one such colonial block, bought at auction for a steal in 1960 by the Indian hotelier Ravi Ghai, and turned into The Natraj Hotel with its famous Kebab Korner restaurant. Locals claim they can still smell the kebabs as they pass, even though the hotel has undergone a major refurbishment in the hands of the Intercontinental Group, its owner since 2003.


Intercontinental Marine Drive, 135 Marine Drive, Mumbai 4000020, India (00 91 223 987 9999; www.mumbai.intercontinental.com)

Time to international airport: it takes around an hour to get to the airport. Hotel transfers cost $55 (£30-50); a taxi is around $15 (£8).


With 42in plasma screens in every one of its 58 rooms along with satellite TV, DVD, video and Bose sound systems, marbled bathrooms, remote-control blinds, touch-sensitive lights and sound panels, the hotel is the epitome of luxury.

Guests are shown to their rooms for check-in. There is a complimentary half-hour massage service and a menu offering a selection of pillows and quilts. You can have a Chinese bamboo pillow for improved blood circulation, a Korean pillow filled with the skin of seeds and wheat husks or a zero headache pillow that somehow reacts to the weight of your head and counterbalances it to relieve the neck muscles. There's also a 24-hour butler service.

By way of food, The Dome on the roof is a bar and grill, and there is a multi-speciality restaurant on the second floor that offers Western and pan-Asian cuisine. A new Italian restaurant is also about to open run by the celebrated Sicilian chef, Dario Dazio, who has run India's Little Italy chain for the past 15 years. Czar's, in the lobby, offers an extensive selection of vodka and cigars.

Keeping in touch: Catering to the business traveller, the hotel offers everything from free high-speed internet access in each room, direct-dial telephones with voicemail, fax and printers, and a call transfer service to mobiles or the hotel limousine.


Standard double rooms start at $189 (£105) with breakfast.

I'm not paying that: the Chateau Windsor hotel (00 91 22 2204 3376) has rooms with breakfast from 2,500 rupees (£31).