114 Dr. E. Moses Road
India 400 018
Tel: 91 22 2481 8000
The Four Seasons Mumbai, open since 2008, has what it claims is the only 360-degree view in Mumbai, which makes you wonder why it took the hotel so long to open Aer, its thirty-fourth-floor lounge. The elevator goes only as far as the thirty-third floor; walking the last flight of stairs, its walls mirrored like a Moroccan boudoir, prepares you for the delight of surfacing on the roof, where the decor is minimalist, white and orb-like, retro and futuristic all at oncethink Woody Allen's Sleeper. If you don't mind the fumes, take a seat on the smoking side, from which you can glimpse the sea as well as listen to the ambient tunes played by the resident DJ. Come before eight for champagne cocktail happy hour, and watch the space fill with Mumbai's young wheeler-dealers and fashion designers.
A hub for filmmakers, artists, models, and expats, Bandra has some of the city's most vibrant nightlife. The center of action is Zenzi, where hipsters bask in a casual living room atmosphere, as talented local DJs drop tracks from Kraftwerk to Kanye West. Seijo and the Soul Dish, across the street, pulls in a slightly older crowd, most dressed in black, with wall-length Japanese anime prints giving it a Tokyo-meets-Manhattan edge. The pace is usually frenetic at Poison, a megaclub run by superstar DJ Aqeel, with assembled lovelies vying for attention on the dance floor to a soundtrack of Bollywood mash-ups. A booth replete with velvet sofas and a gold throne overlooks the VIP enclosure, in case Bollywood superstars like Shah Rukh Khan and his coterie put in an appearance.
From swanky boozers and Studio 54 clones to working-class dives, it's hard to beat Colaba for variety. Kick off the evening at Leopold, a noisy backpacker haven, whose mix of local color and international rowdiness has made it a veritable landmark for tourists of all types. The 141-year-old café, which hums with activity throughout the day and night, is reminiscent of a waiting room at a grand old railway terminus. Warning: The waiters tend to be as chilly as the beer. Well-heeled partyers congregate at Henry Tham, a plush DJ bar that serves delicious cocktails, and has sassy touches like a vibrating massage chair. For a taste of Mumbai's gay scene, head to Voodoo on a Saturday night (but be forewarned that there will be overfriendly females and paunchy businessmen thrown into the mix). Still up for more? Head to Polly Esther's, where the 1980s are on permanent rotation and the dance floor lights up à la Saturday Night Fever. Although the crowd skews young, Mumbaikers go crazy for retro-cheese. Check your attitude at the door, and you'll have a kitschy-good time.
Mahalaxmi Race Course
Keshva Rao Khadye Road
Tel: 91 22 6157 7777
The bar at Tote is as much an architectural wonder as the restaurant (made to resemble a white metal forest) with which it shares a roof at the Mahalaxmi Race Course. Constructed from Burmese teak, the bar itself is 40 feet long and backed by a wooden frieze that rises to meet a vaulted ceiling. Come early or late: Young professionals flock in for a post-prandial drink on weekends before a night on the town, or finish there after a rough night of partying. The drink menu offers variations on classics like the tequila-spiked Tote Sangria.
Senapati Bapat Road
Tel: 91 22 4345 5455
Operating out of an old textile mill in Lower Parel, Zenzi Mills is the two-story club outpost to Bandra's favorite watering hole, Zenzi. Inside, exposed brick and canoe-like shelves suspended over the bar help preserve the raw feel. While the door policy isn't exacting, Mumbai's Bollywood aspirants, hip locals, and expats come presentable or studiedly tousled and tattooed. Music ranges from old-school hip-hop and drum and bass to live rock or jazz. Kingfisher beer is the refreshment of choice.