GREAT AMERICAN VACATION
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In Mumbai, unlike elsewhere in India, even mid-range hotels can be shockingly overpriced, and a hotel shortage means that good deals are few. Many hotels in that middle range aren't quite up to Western standards of cleanliness, despite their high prices, but location means everything in Mumbai, and tourists may have to sacrifice a bit on substance to get proximity to the city's best attractions.
Even hotels with the highest of prices can be full because of year-round demand, so you're well advised to make reservations a few months in advance.
Chains like the Taj, Oberoi, Hyatt, Marriott, InterContinental, Hilton, and Sheraton have huge hotels, most of them deluxe; these cater to leisure and business travelers, and movie stars with money to burn. Whether you reserve with a hotel directly or through a travel agent, always ask for a discount. Note that tariffs quoted in this book and at hotels do not include 12% tax. Room rates at the luxury hotels fluctuate depending on occupancy, and they offer the rate of the day; the earlier you book, the better the rate you'll get. If you're paying cash, convert your currency beforehand—most hotels give poor exchange rates.
Most of Mumbai's hotels are collected around three locations: in South Mumbai, primarily in Colaba; near Juhu Beach in the suburbs (note that the beach has been cleaned up, but it's not clean enough for swimming—even though you might see some local boys going in); and in North Mumbai, near the airport. If you're going to be sightseeing, and you have the money, stay in South Mumbai rather than the suburbs. If you're here on business, the airport may be your ideal location, and there are several luxury hotels in the vicinity.
Mumbai's cheaper hotels, usually in South Mumbai, can be decent but are still probably overpriced for what you get. During the monsoon season (mid-May through late September), these hotels are overrun by large groups of vacationers from various Arab nations who come to Mumbai to enjoy the cooler weather and rain, during which time noise levels can be very high—solo women travelers should probably stay elsewhere during this time unless they really aren't going to be bothered by the stares.
Unless otherwise indicated, hotels have air-conditioning, room service, doctors on call, and currency exchange, and rooms have private bathrooms and cable television.