These hotspots will make you feel like a movie star.
They say a destination is best explored with the mindset of a local, not a tourist. And when it comes to Mumbai, its vibe gets a lot better when that local is someone famous. The perfect way to experiencing the land of dreams, struggle, success, and stardom is through the places frequented by the celebrities of Bollywood, one of the world’s largest movie industries. Here are a few spots in the city that will put you in the zone.
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JW Marriott Juhu
The suburb of Juhu is not only close to a number of filming studios; its beachside location also makes it a prime real-estate attraction for the industry’s best. Therefore, you can’t go wrong with this 5-star hotel, which doubles as a popular venue for showbiz events. Just a walk down Marriott’s opulent corridors could have you cross paths with a star or two. But to feel as luxurious as one, tuck into a hearty meal at Lotus Café, the coffee shop, whose extensive multi-cuisine menu can pamper even the fussiest of eaters. Actor Shahid Kapoor (known for his titular role in Haider, Bollywood’s own Hamlet) is one of the many famous regulars here. For best results, book a table for Lotus’ Sunday brunch. Another option is Mezzo Mezzo, whose Italian fare has found flavor with superstar of the millennium, Amitabh Bachchan.
Taj Lands End
More than the elegant interiors and coveted location of this sea-facing hotel in Bandra West, it is its famous neighbor that keeps it in the news. Heartthrob Shah Rukh Khan, fondly addressed by his initials SRK and hailed as the “King of Bollywood,” occupies the large, grand mansion nearby with his family. Which means that, be it for conferences or power lunches, he’s likely to be at the hotel. In fact, he’s said to dine with his wife and kids once a month at Ming Yang, the in-house Chinese restaurant. The steamed fish and dim sums have also reportedly found a fan in Greek god Hrithik Roshan. In addition, savor Masala Bay’s glorious Indian fare, which has passed muster with Bollywood’s Mr. Perfectionist, Aamir Khan, among others.
Four Seasons Hotel
If you’re staying here to be close to Lower Parel’s business hub, you’re in for a great deal. Located in the South Mumbai area of Worli, the hotel boasts one of the city’s highest rooftop bars, which attracts its share of cognoscenti. Right on the property’s 34th floor, Aer offers trendy seating and furniture, with dramatic views of the city’s coast. But the fabulous cooking and clever mixology make it even more special. The bar is best visited in the evenings for sunsets and sundowners. If the idea of a terrace perch sounds too dizzying, you could partake in the several lower-level experiences on offer, including a pan-Asian meal at San:Qi. Wherever you are at the hotel, rest assured it has seen footfalls by the likes of recently married power couple Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh, who live nearby.
Olive Bar & Kitchen
If real-life Bollywood drama was a thing, then this posh resto-bar in the suburb of Khar has seen quite a bit of it. SRK and his arch-rival Salman Khan brawled here in 2008, and the latter once had a scuffle with “coming-of-age” idol Ranbir Kapoor in his younger days at this very place. Nonetheless, Olive continues to be the industry’s favorite dining and party zone. Maybe it’s due to the Mediterranean-style whitewashed walls that give the illusion of Mykonos in Mumbai. Maybe it’s the consistent food that delivers memorable results, such as the signature pizzas, pastas, and Sunday brunches. Maybe it’s because the restaurant boasts one of the city’s most well-stocked cellars. Or maybe it’s just PR and connections. All these factors and more have made Olive one of the hottest addresses for showbiz networking (do note the dress code), never mind the splurge.
Pali Village Café
Swarming with celebrity homes, including the abodes of Bollywood’s top three Khans, Bandra West is truly the Beverly Hills of Mumbai. And guess where these celebs head for a treat? With offerings including the wholesome watermelon and feta salad, flavorful pastas, and refreshing sangrias, no wonder popular names like Kareena Kapoor Khan, Katrina Kaif, and Arjun Rampal make a beeline for this European-bistro-style restaurant. Show up for breakfast, where healthy fare in the form of quinoa upma, buttermilk pancakes, and oatmeal porridge await you. Who knows you might end up hobnobbing with the elite!
Dessert brand Le15 is credited with introducing the city to French macarons and reinventing the art of baking. No wonder it boasts a discerning clientele, including movie stars. (Owner–chef Pooja Dhingra, a Le Cordon Bleu alumnus, also created a six-tier cake for actor and fashionista Sonam Kapoor’s wedding last year.) In 2016, the experimental patisserie opened its first café in Colaba near the Gateway of India, designed with a Parisian vibe. Current-generation celebrities such as Parineeti Chopra and Shraddha Kapoor are among those who have heaped praises on this place. Understandably so, when it’s difficult to resist ordering seconds of the croissants, poached-egg waffles, or anything else. And when the oozy chocolate and salted caramel tart named Lucie is just one delightful way to conclude a great meal with. Don’t forget to bring a box (or ten) of macarons home.
This Juhu landmark is more than just a place to watch plays or attend workshops at. It’s an institution—one of the several milestones in an Indian movie or TV star’s growth story. Established in 1978 by late actor Shashi Kapoor and his wife, Jennifer, in honor of the former’s father, Prithviraj Kapoor, the head of Bollywood’s first family, Prithvi Theatre is where you go to immerse yourself in the vibe more than network. Don’t miss the bookstore, as well as the outdoor café, where the atmosphere extends itself to cheery and even delicious results. Order a plate of aloo parathas and wash them down with Prithvi’s famed Sulaimani chai or Irish coffee. Time your trip to coincide with the Prithvi Festival when a host of names from the film, TV, and theatre industry—including award-winning actress Vidya Balan and celebrated filmmaker Imtiaz Ali—are present in huge numbers.
Home to a battery of studios, production houses, and casting agencies, Versova is where, for some unknown reason, most of the city’s scriptwriting, script-reading, and hustling take place. Though there are several hangout spots that lend themselves as venues to the cause, few beat Leaping Windows when it comes to uniqueness. There’s an interesting array of things to do here, aside from eavesdropping on a possible celebrity interview or script-reading session by acclaimed directors like Anurag Kashyap (Gangs of Wasseypur) and Bejoy Nambiar (Shaitan) and actors like Rajkummar Rao (Newton). The library of comics, graphic novels, and manga inside will keep you constructively occupied and potentially serve as a much-needed source of creative inspiration, while the attached café with a good range of salads and nibbles is a bonus.
PVR ICON, Versova and PVR Juhu
When in Mumbai, watch a Bollywood film. And do it where stars like Anushka Sharma and Varun Dhawan do. Given their locations in two of the three biggest celebrity neighborhoods (Bandra being the third), these multiplexes are the hubs for movie premieres and VIP screenings.
INSIDER TIPIf you sign up for the Year Round Programme of the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI), you get access to free screenings—and possibly even celebrity panels—mostly conducted at these two spots.
If you love the lavish costumes from Bollywood productions or what the stars wear at events, why not get yourself one? This boutique with three outlets in different parts of Mumbai—Bandra (West), Juhu, Altamount Road—stocks collections by some of the glamor industry’s biggest designers, including Anita Dongre, Neeta Lulla, Tarun Tahiliani, and the creative force behind some of the most news-making celebrity attires in the 1990s, Manish Malhotra. Aza also has an online shopping portal that ships to 200 countries. Another multi-designer option is Ensemble, owned by Tahiliani himself, whose history of clients comprise Jemima Khan, Lady Gaga, Bollywood personality Shilpa Shetty, and many more. This, too, has three locations in Mumbai—Bandra, Kemps Corner, and Lion Gate.
Bollywood-style weddings are a legit theme, and to do full justice for it, you need to get your outfit right. The solution: Head to this extravagant studio in the South Mumbai area of Kala Ghoda. The store is owned by power designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee, who’s highly sought-after in both the fashion and film worlds and is known for crafting Priyanka Chopra’s trousseau and Nick Jonas’ sherwani, among other ethereal creations. The place feels like a period flick, with historic themes and majestic interiors dominated by brilliant chandeliers. Even if you don’t have a wedding to attend, a Sabya purchase will act as a statement piece for life.
Celebrities usually have a dedicated go-to stylist or salon for all their look needs. Zido in Bandra West is among the few spots that is not only relatively affordable (haircut prices start at ₹1,350 or $20 for men and ₹1,650 or $24 for women) but also approachable. With patrons such as former noughties actor Sameera Reddy and current critic favorite Aditi Rao Hydari, the salon promises quality hairdos without the fuss. And considering the stylists dole out handy tips every odd minute, it’s a win-win all the way.
Stars such as current youth icon Alia Bhatt have confessed to hitting this spot in Juhu every week. They have a valid reason to do so—the spa is kitted out with Mediterranean-style suites that soothe the senses even before your rejuvenating session begins. Another USP is their range of prenatal treatments—from full-body massages to foot rubs. For those staying in South Mumbai, Myrah has a second outlet at Marine Drive.