Why it’s hip: Mumbai is one of the fastest-growing, most cosmopolitan capitals in the world, where you’ll experience a heady mix of fashion, glamour, authentic culture and utterly head-spinning extremes of wealth and poverty that never fail to put things into perspective. At just over two hours’ travelling time from Dubai, it leaves you more than enough space in your weekend to go crazy in the shops, enjoy the nightlife and get your fill of the city’s fabulous food haunts. Don’t forget that a favourable exchange rate means that your dirhams will go a long way to satisfying your weekend away dreams.
Spend the day: Start with a trip to Dhobi Ghat, near Mahalaxmi station, where you’ll see the real India: it’s a vast outdoor laundry where around 200 dhobis (traditional laundrymen) and their families ply their trade. The markets are a good bet in the first half of the day; try Crawford, Bhuleshwar or, if you’re after some gorgeous trinkets, Chor Bazaar. Another favourite is Colaba Street Market where hawkers’ stalls jostle for attention with shops and boutiques selling everything from clothes to jewellery. If you’re planning to buy fabrics or try out the national dress, head to Fab India and take home silks and cottons in vibrant block colours (the organic soaps are gorgeous, too). Homewares come cheap and cheerful, while Bungalow Eight is best for chic and interesting designs sourced from around the world, mixed with avant garde contemporary pieces. End with Le Mill: a sure sign of India’s new-found passion for luxury brands, it’s filled with statement jewellery pieces, capsule collections by Indian designers, specially designed textiles and fresh flowers.
And the night: Grab an early evening snack at Jimmy Boy Café, an old Parsi haunt that serves delicious home-style food. With your stomach safely lined you can proceed to the newly popular Leopold’s Café, immortalised in the novel, Shantaram. As a result it’s heavily populated with tourists but it’s still worth a stop-off, if only for its unique ambience and a few glasses of something to fortify you for your evening. You should be feeling in the mood to party by now, so head down to the Blue Frog, a former warehouse in the Mill District, which has been transformed into an acoustic lounge that hosts some cool bands. End your night at Aer, the lounge that crowns the 34-storey Four Seasons Hotel – a perfect luxe spot for a last, birds-eye view of this spectacular city.
Bed down: The only way to stay in India is in one of the fabulous five-star hotels that showcase India’s love of opulence and superlative service. Try the Trident at Nariman Point or the famous Oberoi Mumbai; they are sister hotels, located right next to one another and linked by a corridor. oberoihotels.com. Doubles from approximately Dhs1,000 plus taxes.
Getting there: A return flight from Dubai costs from Dhs1,420 with Emirates Airline.