Mumbai

No other city in India knows how to have a good time quite like Mumbai. Here you'll find everything from dingy "permit rooms" (basically cafeteria-style rooms with a liquor license) so dirty they make an American dive bar look like the Rainbow Room, and clubs so fancy they make the Rainbow Room look like a permit room. Whatever destination you choose, they all hold their own special charms. If you're in the mood for a cheap tipple, and you appreciate the character of a down and dirty dive bar, head to Gokul, behind the Taj Mahal Palace, it's the most tourist-friendly of Mumbai's permit rooms.

If you're more inclined to clubbing, Mumbai has lots to choose from—though club owners seem to have decided that the only option that works in this city are lounges with blaring music and tiny dance floors: be forewarned, though, that prices are steep, and you'll often pay New York prices, or more, for your drinks. Note, too, that many clubs and bars have "couples" policies, wherein a "stag" (lone man) is not permitted to enter without a woman. This might be a circuitous attempt to prevent brawls, pickup scenes, and prostitution—or just a club owner figuring that in a country where many more guys are allowed to stay out late than girls, a club full of dudes isn't going to attract much business. To avoid an unpleasant encounter at the door, check with your hotel staff to find out whether your destination club or bar will allow you to enter if you're a man traveling alone or in a group of men. Dress nicely and you'll probably get in; an advance call from your hotel concierge might also make your entry smoother.

One area where the suburbs have it over the city is nightlife, and the after-dark scene in the wealthy enclaves of Juhu and Bandra thrive on suburbia's young nouveau riche as well as city folk willing to travel for a good night out.

Revelry peaks from Thursday to Sunday nights, with an early-20s-to-mid-30s crowd. Pubs open daily at around 6 or 7 (except a few, which open in the afternoon) and close by 1:15 am or a little later, depending, honestly, on how much they've paid the local cops. Some places collect a cover charge at the door. As in any metropolis, the reign of a nightspot can be ephemeral. Ask a young hotel employee to tell you where the best clubs or bars are, as trends change quickly in Mumbai.

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  • 1. Aer

    Central Mumbai

    The rooftop club at the Four Seasons is one of the most popular—and most expensive—bars in town, but it offers stunning views of the city...

    The rooftop club at the Four Seasons is one of the most popular—and most expensive—bars in town, but it offers stunning views of the city in all directions, and is probably worth a drink.

    114 E. Moses Rd., Mumbai, Maharashtra, 400018, India
    22-2481–8444
  • 2. Busaba Lower Parel

    Central Mumbai

    ...

    N.M. Joshi Marg, Mumbai, Maharashtra, 400012, India
    22-6747–8974
  • 3. Dome

    Churchgate

    With some of the best views of the city, the open-air Dome attracts a young, good-looking crowd who sit, amid candlelight, on plush white sofas...

    With some of the best views of the city, the open-air Dome attracts a young, good-looking crowd who sit, amid candlelight, on plush white sofas and chairs. It's one of the best sunset-drink spots in the city, and the fact that the menu includes a selection from the excellent Kebab Korner only sweetens the deal. Drinks are fairly expensive, but if you're on a budget, grab a Kingfisher for Rs. 450. That's hardly a steal, but you're paying for the view.

    135 Marine Dr., Mumbai, Maharashtra, 400001, India
    22-3987–9999
  • 4. Eau Bar

    Nariman Point

    Facing the Arabian Sea, this bar is elegant and more reserved than many of its peers, and attracts a rather high-class clientele for the live...

    Facing the Arabian Sea, this bar is elegant and more reserved than many of its peers, and attracts a rather high-class clientele for the live jazz band that plays each night.

    Mumbai, Maharashtra, 400021, India
    22-6632–6220
  • 5. Geoffrey's

    Churchgate

    A relatively staid yuppie crowd likes to hang out in the clubby (in the British sense) setting here, but it's also one of the few...

    A relatively staid yuppie crowd likes to hang out in the clubby (in the British sense) setting here, but it's also one of the few bars with enough TVs to accommodate a big sporting event like Wimbledon or the World Cup.

    29 Marine Dr., Mumbai, Maharashtra, 400001, India
    22-2285–1212
  • Recommended Fodor’s Video

  • 6. Gokul

    Colaba

    The safest destination to test out one of Mumbai's infamous permit rooms offers a no-frills, dingy atmosphere—this is the kind of place you want to...

    The safest destination to test out one of Mumbai's infamous permit rooms offers a no-frills, dingy atmosphere—this is the kind of place you want to hit up for supercheap drinks (we're talking nearly retail prices per bottle, which you can order to your table) before you head to the club, or for a late-night drink postclubbing, if the owners have paid the cops enough to stay open past bar time that night.

    10 Tulloch Rd., Mumbai, Maharashtra, 400005, India
    22-2284–8206
  • 7. Koyla

    Colaba

    Koyla is a rooftop hangout with hookahs, Arabian music, a good breeze, and tasty barbecue bites. No alcohol is served....

    Koyla is a rooftop hangout with hookahs, Arabian music, a good breeze, and tasty barbecue bites. No alcohol is served.

    Arthur Bunder Rd., Mumbai, Maharashtra, 400005, India
    22-6636–9999
  • 8. Olive Bar and Restaurant

    Bandra

    This candlelit nightspot draws Mumbai's who's who for bites of top-notch antipasti, risotto, seafood salad, and sips of caipiroskas (caipirin is made with vodka instead...

    This candlelit nightspot draws Mumbai's who's who for bites of top-notch antipasti, risotto, seafood salad, and sips of caipiroskas (caipirin is made with vodka instead of the rumlike cachaça).

    14 Union Park, Mumbai, Maharashtra, 400050, India
    022-4340--8229
  • 9. Pizza by the Bay

    Churchgate

    Rebranded from Not Just Jazz by the Bay, this had been one of Mumbai's few jazz venues, but with the name change went the music...

    Rebranded from Not Just Jazz by the Bay, this had been one of Mumbai's few jazz venues, but with the name change went the music that had been the joint's hallmark. Still, while the music can sometimes be meh, the pizza is among the city's better pies, its location by the sea is beautiful, and it stays open until 1:30 am.

    143 Marine Dr., Mumbai, Maharashtra, 400001, India
    22-2282–0883
  • 10. The Barking Deer

    Lower Parel

    Stay long enough in Mumbai, and the words "cold beer on tap" start to sound like some distant faraway dream. This bar's founder, Greg Kroitzsh,...

    Stay long enough in Mumbai, and the words "cold beer on tap" start to sound like some distant faraway dream. This bar's founder, Greg Kroitzsh, a transplant from Vermont, decided to quit whining about India's headache-inducing bottles of Kingfisher Strong, and make the dream real. The Barking Deer brews its own pale ale, as well as Bombay Blonde, a tasty lager, and the Belgian Wit, a crisp wheat beer. Kroitzsh keeps on hand a nice sampling of imported bottled beers, and the pub fare, like the eggplant Parm sandwich, is well regarded. Weekend nights tend to become overcrowded with partyers, but afternoons present a quiet opportunity to relax and reflect on your trip. The best part? Happy hour (4–8) is two beers for the price of one. There's free Wi-Fi, too.

    Mathuradas Mill Compound, Mumbai, Maharashtra, 400013, India
    22-6141--7400
  • 11. The Ghetto

    Malabar Hill

    This is among the most legendary dives in the entire city, complete with a pair of beat-up pool tables, black light, and a psychedelic mural...

    This is among the most legendary dives in the entire city, complete with a pair of beat-up pool tables, black light, and a psychedelic mural of Jim Morrison.

    30 Bhulabhai Desai Rd., Mumbai, Maharashtra, 400026, India
    22-2353–8418
  • 12. The White Owl

    Lower Parel

    This brewpub currently stands as a reminder of how tricky it is to get government permission to brew beer in Mumbai. Huge brass tankers have...

    This brewpub currently stands as a reminder of how tricky it is to get government permission to brew beer in Mumbai. Huge brass tankers have sat unattended behind the clean, inviting black-and-white checkered bar since its opening. Bottles of imported ales, stouts, and lagers are served instead; the atmosphere, pub food, and bar snacks, like hot, tangy sweet-potato-and-chives popcorn, make it well worth the visit. The brewing license is coming, we are told, but in the meantime, there are many reasons to keep coming back.

    Tower 2 Lobby, Mumbai, Maharashtra, 400012, India
    22-2421–0231
  • 13. Wink

    Colaba

    One of the more popular bars in South Mumbai, Wink is on the spendy side, as is common with bars in high-end hotels. The main...

    One of the more popular bars in South Mumbai, Wink is on the spendy side, as is common with bars in high-end hotels. The main draw is its chill house music.

    90 Cuffe Parade, Mumbai, Maharashtra, 400005, India
    22-6665–0975
  • 14. Blue Frog

    Central Mumbai
    Closed Permanently

    International bands and local acts play Tuesday through Sunday nights at this spacious, trendy nightclub with top-notch acoustics. Munchies like onion rings, burgers, and cheese...

    International bands and local acts play Tuesday through Sunday nights at this spacious, trendy nightclub with top-notch acoustics. Munchies like onion rings, burgers, and cheese platters, as well as full meals like pasta are all available. The entry per head varies from free to Rs. 2,000, depending on whether there is an international or domestic act playing.

    Tulsi Pipe Rd. entrance, Mumbai, Maharashtra, 400011, India
    022-6158–6158
  • 15. Busaba

    Colaba
    Closed Permanently

    In addition to its Asian restaurant, which serves a mix of Burmese, Chinese, Vietanmese, and Thai, Busaba has a relaxed but small and attractive bar-lounge....

    In addition to its Asian restaurant, which serves a mix of Burmese, Chinese, Vietanmese, and Thai, Busaba has a relaxed but small and attractive bar-lounge. There's another branch near Blue Frog and Café Zoe in Central Mumbai, if you're in the neighborhood.

    4 Mandlik Rd., Mumbai, Maharashtra, 400005, India
    22-2204–3779
  • 16. Café Ivy

    Worli
    Closed Permanently

    Café Ivy is a wine bar that offers the opportunity to sample many of the wines produced by India's premium Maharashtan vintner, as well as...

    Café Ivy is a wine bar that offers the opportunity to sample many of the wines produced by India's premium Maharashtan vintner, as well as a range of quick bites and desserts.

    Mumbai, Maharashtra, 400018, India
    022-6654–7939
  • 17. Enigma

    Closed Permanently

    CLOSED - OMIT...

    CLOSED - OMIT

    Juhu Tara Rd., Juhu, Maharashtra, 400049, India
    22-2693–3000
  • 18. Polly Esthers

    Colaba | Dance Club
    Closed Permanently

    At Polly Esthers the retro music, large bar, and spacious dance floor attract hordes on the weekends, but the crowd can be a bit sketchy, and...

    At Polly Esthers the retro music, large bar, and spacious dance floor attract hordes on the weekends, but the crowd can be a bit sketchy, and it's well past it's prime.

    Gordon House hotel, 5 Battery St., Mumbai, Maharashtra, 400005, India
    22-2287–1122
  • 19. Prive and Tetsuma

    Colaba
    Closed Permanently

    Patterned on a London nightclub, Prive and Tetsuma are among the hottest clubs in town with a decent Japanese restaurant that becomes a bar at...

    Patterned on a London nightclub, Prive and Tetsuma are among the hottest clubs in town with a decent Japanese restaurant that becomes a bar at night. Both are open until at least 4 am on most weekend nights, serve expensive drinks, attract a youngish (but not teenage) crowd, and allow smoking indoors once it's late enough.

    41/44 Monrepos, Mumbai, Maharashtra, 400005, India
    22-2202–8700
  • 20. Sports Bar Express

    Colaba
    Closed Permanently

    Loud music, a giant television screen, and pool tables in the next room are the attractions here....

    Loud music, a giant television screen, and pool tables in the next room are the attractions here.

    Shaheed Bhagat Singh Rd., Mumbai, Maharashtra, 400005, India
    22-6639–6682

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