The St. Regis Mumbai is one of the towering properties in Central Mumbai, accorded a larger-than-life stature, given it is one of the most prominent hotels in town and one of Marriott’s flagship brands in Mumbai. However, the hotel is a third-hand Marriott hotel, having launched as a Shangri-La, who very quickly left the hotel for reasons unknown. Then, the hotel was operated as the Palladium Hotel for some time before Marriott took over and reflagged it to a St. Regis Hotel in 2015. Similarly, The Leela Goa was reflagged as St. Regis Goa. The first St. Regis Hotel in India, built to the St. Regis Brand guidelines, will be the St. Regis Delhi Aerocity, which is expected to go live in 2025.
St. Regis Mumbai is a good Business Hotel.
The St. Regis Mumbai claims to be “The Best Address” in town. The marketing spiel, however, does not match the real deal of the hotel. I’ve been visiting for the past eight years and looking for that shining light that puts the hotel in the same category as luxury hotels in the city, such as The Taj Mahal Palace or The Oberoi, but maybe I’ve missed something. I’ve stayed at the hotel a few times, used their bar a few times, attended conferences and events, and dined there over the years. Unfortunately, my determination of the hotel has been that it is a good business hotel, akin to a Trident, maybe, but not a luxury hotel. “Allow me” to explain.
Unfortunately, the best time I had at the hotel recently was during the pandemic, when my spouse and I checked into the hotel for a staycation in March 2021. We were put up in The Residence Suites, which have a kitchenette and are primarily meant for long-stay guests. We liked it so much that we extended our stay for a night as well.
The hotel used to treat its elite guests very well. There were Afternoon High Tea services rolled out during the stay every afternoon.
Also, the hotel would invite elite guests to drinks at the bar in the evening.
Since then, I went back in 2022 and then recently in 2023, and the hotel disappointed both times. In 2022, I stayed at the hotel for two nights. I had applied the Suite Upgrade Certificates granted as a Marriott Bonvoy elite member, and the upgrades had cleared before arrival. Unfortunately, on arrival, I realised that Imran Khan, the excellent Front Office Manager at the hotel from my previous trips, had moved on, and someone else was on the job.
On arrival, I was checked into a Suite where someone had smoked, and the smell was very pungent (my room preference for years has been Non-Smoking). For the lack of a better Suite, the hotel sent us to the Presidential Suite. It was undoubtedly large, but the presidential suite was a mess and hardly kept well over the years. Take, for instance, this dab on the study desk, where I assume people who are very well off conduct their business if they check into this room.
Beyond this, some lights did not work and stained couches to keep company. These were only some of the faults of the Presidential Suite at “The Best Address”. I wasn’t impressed.
I was in town to attend an event at the St. Regis itself, so after a late evening, I hit the bed. However, sometime during the day, I’d requested a table at the new restaurant in the hotel, Koishii, for the following evening, and someone decided they should send me a confirmation post-midnight. I understand that the city never sleeps, but it was an odd hour to send me a confirmation for the table.
The next day, we were also politely asked to move out of the Presidential Suite and head back to the one-bedroom suite, as the hotel now had one available. I remember being in the middle of a very important conference call when someone came in with urgency and said we had to wrap up in thirty minutes or so.
Cue to 2023. I arrived at the hotel at 10:30 a.m. just this past month. The hotel had confirmed an early check-in, and a blue-chip consulting firm had taken over most of the hotel, so there were no upgrades to Suites this time. However, from my low-floor room, I was upgraded to an ocean-view room (which looks over the Arabian Sea, incidentally, and not an Ocean). To my surprise, the hotel had already retrieved my identity documents from a past stay and asked me to sign documents to check me in. This was surprising because I would have expected the hotel to purge my data after a few weeks, and here I was, back 14 months or so later, and they had held on to my identity documents. Colour me confused. But I had to run, so I did not press much on this. I’ve not signed an identity retainer with them in any way or form over the years unless they got me to sign one sneakily.
Also, the hotel did not even present an amenity choice card at check-in, which should be par for the course for any Marriott hotel. It should have cost them 100 USD, but I checked out in a rush (I’d rescheduled my flight to depart earlier).
More problems began as soon as I checked in. The room I was put up in did not have a door that would shut and would remain ajar. Which meant I was assigned yet another room, but it took 30 minutes to get that sorted.
This being a work trip, I hardly had the time to entertain myself at the hotel. Still, neither was an invitation for the evening happy hour extended nor the afternoon high tea, nor did the hotel even bother informing me that the evening sabering ritual was back. The hotel used to offer all this information back in the day proactively. No welcome letters were placed in the room, either.
The poor show continued through the night, with the hotel assigning me a room with a lav where the water wouldn’t stop running. The water ran through the toilet flush through the night, and there was no one to pick up my calls at night when I wanted to report the issue and get it fixed (so much so that I had to use a pillow to shut my ears).
At the breakfast service, I noticed that the surprise and delight of the day was gone. Back in the day, chefs used to roam around, serving small canapés and desserts to guests, which were not set on a table. A vada pao some day, another little bite another day. And the dining staff, well, their lack of training, showed just like in 2022. No one would bring water to the tables. When I requested some Indian-style eggs (Bhurji) and Parantha, the Parantha showed up ten minutes before the Bhurji and, of course, had gone cold. Once I returned it, three people, all the way to the Assistant F&B Incharge, came to apologise, but they wouldn’t focus on their training to fix the real issue over the years.
By the end of my time at the hotel, I longed to leave. There were so many service lapses that I rated the hotel a 4 or 5/10 in the post-stay questionnaire that is fired for feedback. That prompted a call from the General Manager. I sent him a list of 13 issues, or so, that I observed. The first reaction to my email was not even a “sorry” or an apology. Instead, I was told the hotel would go into renovation in October 2023 (perhaps to imply these things will be taken care of then). The GM requested a call, where this was called a “compromised stay experience,” and no service recovery was offered for the terrible experiences, two stays in a row. Instead, I was asked to come back to the hotel, to which my response was that I was not looking forward to a stay that would be micromanaged and comped to make it look good.
The bottom line is that the hotel is full of people who have their heads high in the air, with no inclination to serve the guests. Of course, there are good people, too, but luxury is about predicting the needs of your guests and reacting accordingly. At the St. Regis Mumbai, there is no such paradigm, and everyone in the management and downwards seems to work in silos. This might be why the hotel has many people dressed as butlers swarming the lobby saying “allow me,” which appears to not come from the heart; they really should be on the floors minding the real expectations of their guests. The hotel must look deep inside and develop a service standard, not “Chalta hai”.
Thank you for following along on my observations of the St. Regis Mumbai. I typed this while sitting at another Marriott property in India, where they did not know who I was. The stay was planned at the last minute, but everything worked as intended.
Have you stayed here before? What has been your experience at the St. Regis Mumbai?
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