India // Mumbai //

The Taj Hotel

Directly behind the Gateway, the older hotel in the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower complex stands as a monument to local pride in the face of colonial oppression. Its patron, the Parsi industrialist J. N. Tata, is said to have built the old Taj as an act of revenge after he was refused entry to what was then the best hotel in town, the “whites only” Watson’s. The ban proved to be its undoing. Watson’s disappeared long ago, but the Taj still presides imperiously over the seafront, the preserve of Mumbai’s air-kissing jet set. Lesser mortals are allowed in to experience the tea lounge, shopping arcades and vast air-conditioned lobby – there’s also a fabulously luxurious loo off the corridor to the left of the main desk.