Location: Standing serene and majestic above the blistering heat and blaring hubbub of Mumbai’s Juhu beach, hotel and members’ club Soho House’s first outpost east of Europe fuses style and sophistication with the kind of cutting-edge cool that the group has become synonymous with since its launch in 1995. Overlooking the Arabian Sea and close to the city’s international airport, the new venue is at the heart of Juhu – a thriving upmarket area, home to many Bollywood celebrities and close to the art galleries and hipster boutiques of the Bandra neighbourhood.
Architecture: Originally a 10-storey, beachfront townhouse, whose painstaking refurbishment took almost a decade, the finished venue has proved well worth the wait. Its crisp white stucco exterior and the swaying palm trees at its entrance wouldn’t look out of place on the Côte d’Azur. There are 38 bedrooms, The Allis, an informal bar and café space in the lobby, a branch of Italian restaurant Cecconi’s, and a floor specifically for members (and staying guests), but, as with many of the group’s other properties, the real focus is the rooftop. Its perfectly-formed pool, candy-striped sunbed cabanas and expansive views of the sea and city are spectacular.
The complete look and feel of this new venue has been overseen by Mr Soho House himself, Nick Jones, and the company’s director of design, Linda Boronkay, and its success is testament to the team’s attention to detail, with a sensitive nod to its locale. Rather than the sterile, cookie-cutter approach to design taken by many international chains, where everything looks the same wherever you are in the world, here you’ll find vibrant, block-printed textiles from Rajasthan alongside a selection of locally sourced furniture and antiques.
‘We put so much emphasis on the Houses being specific to their locations,’ says Boronkay. ‘The cultural differences are always a learning curve that takes time to navigate. It starts with the language, local suppliers and the natural aesthetic. Then we figure out how to work with them to create something that still has a Soho House feel.’
Interiors: This focus on Mumbai-based designers and craftsmanship is important to the unique look and feel of this space.‘Ninety per cent of the bespoke furniture and lighting was made by locals – the more talent we discovered, the more their amazing skills shaped our concept,’ says Boronkay. The bedrooms are all completely individual and feature tactile sisal carpets, as well as antique timber-and-bone inlay furniture and delicately ruched silk lampshades, stitched from saris found in the nearby marketplaces. The bathrooms include cement tiles, vintage mirrors and marble details, while indulgently enormous walk-in showers underline the fact that the guest experience is every bit as important as the look of this place.
Boronkay’s favourite area? The expansive lounge, bar and restaurant that makes up the the main members’ floor (pictured above). ‘It has double-height Crittal windows that allow the beautiful, natural light to sweep through the rooms and give uninterrupted views across the misty and mysterious Arabian Sea,’ she says. Painted a pale eau de nil, the luxurious space is offset with cut-glass chandeliers, antique teak flooring and sofas covered in rich, russet-coloured velvet.
Vibrant colours and patterns are key in every single room of the property. ‘As soon as you land in India, it’s such a multi-sensory overload,’ remarks Boronkay. ‘You almost become delirious from it.I wanted to recreate this excitement for those visiting the House. We worked with local block printers to come up with bespoke patterns for our curtains and cushions, so there are lots of fabrics you won’t see anywhere else in the world. Plus, the light in Mumbai is very different – every colour looks so much warmer. This allowed us to really go for it.’ From £90 per night, sohohousemumbai.com
This article first appeared in ELLE Decoration April 2019