Tucked away in a leafy lane in Andheri East, Aureole is the perfect antidote to Mumbai’s maximum chaos.
Stylish hotels are popping up everywhere, and in the most unexpected places. A quiet corner in the hustle and bustle of Andheri? Why not? Set away from the main drag behind the former Natraj Studios and next to the leafy Bima Colony, Aureole commands a modest-sized plot. It didn’t take me long to reach from the airport. The lobby was tiny and functional but my room, once I was whisked up to it, was spacious (mine was a corner suite, most of the rooms are on the smaller side—but that design challenge has been met head-on with innovative solutions). Quite breathtaking too, with a bathtub quirkily commanding what is almost the centre of the room. Outside the windows, I could only see the lush foliage of old-growth trees.
This mid-range hotel with a prominently corporate clientele is owned by Nikhil Samani and operated and managed by Dharmesh Karmokar from United Facets Hospitality. Dharmesh, whose earlier stint was at the Gordon House Hotel, was nice enough to show me around. This was also a great way to work up an appetite for the excellent lunch that followed.
It’s only in recent times that an elevated design aesthetic has percolated down to mid-range hotels. Aureole offers a stunning array of cool design touches. Given its small footprint (literally), in order to offer the 45 rooms it does, Aureole has six floors above the ground floor plus a stunning terrace. As we walked up from the ground floor, I realised that each floor had a different theme. The deluxe rooms all came with a hammock. My floor, meant for creative folks, had a Mediterranean vibe, with distressed furniture and tiles. The wooden headboard had some inspirational poetry etched into it. I felt right at home. Or at least ‘almost home’ which incidentally is the hotel’s tagline, which they try assiduously to live up to. The terrace, once I’d huffed and puffed my way up to it, offered a rooftop plunge pool as well as a nice nook for private parties.
It was time for lunch. Dharmesh is basically a kitchen guy and it’s here that his extraordinary creativity comes out on full display. Lume, the stylish all-day café, serves both continental and Indian food. The emphasis is on healthy and holistic food (there’s a range of Vedic teas on offer, for instance). The continental is competent but the Indian is more fun. In deference to the sensibilities of the owners, the food is vegetarian. They do serve eggs and the drinks menu is rather extensive. Even if you’re a non-vegetarian, I suspect you won’t mind terribly. Their roti platter, which came with raita, dal makhani and Andhra curry as dips was outstanding. As was the naan turnover, pockets of naan bursting with a delicious sabzi. It’s all about curating the local. Even the snacks in the room are sourced from local establishments. I also had a comforting ‘Almost Home Paanch Dhatu Thali’. At just `300, it was great value.
The word ‘aureole’ refers to a circle of light or brightness surrounding something. True to its name, Aureole is a hotel that promotes bliss: they want guests to have a delicious dining experience followed by a good night’s sleep slumber and thereby a blissfully rested mind. I can personally confirm that that’s just the way it is.
Location: Bima Nagar, Sir M.V. Road (No Entry from Western Express Highway), Access from Telli Gali, Andheri (East), Mumbai 400069; 4.2km from the airport, less than a kilometre from the Andheri metro station.
Accommodation: 45 rooms spread across 7 floors
Tariff: Single ₹6,000 (single); ₹7,000 (double), ₹9,000 (suite)
Contact: +91-7045458218 (reservations), aureolehotel.com