Mathematicians and movie stars have come and gone, but the ancient mango tree has remained a guest at the 40 year-old Hotel Kemp's Corner in Mumbai.
This year, just before the mangoes went from green to yellow, the hotel turned a brilliant shade of blue as part of its 2019 face lift. A tour inside revealed that the revamp involved more than just a lick of paint. "It's all new," says the hotel's interior designer Sahiba Madan (founder, Kalakaarihaath), who worked alongside project head Rajiv Palshikar, principal architect at StudioRap.
"The idea was not to lose the old world charm in a high gloss boutique hotel," Sahiba tells us. The result is a collection of 31 rooms spread across two buildings, each a nod to little elements of Bombay that your busy screen-eyes tend to overlook. Pigeons, clock towers, the Old Lady's Boot are hand painted over switch boards and door knockers, but the rooms themselves are mostly white with brass light fittings, green mosaic wash basins and balconies with bougainvilleas. See images here. In the lobby, you will spot the same mosaic tiles cast with glass chips from broken gin and beer bottles; nice touch bordering the parking lot with these too.
Matching blue cycles, and customised Mumbai tours wait for guests outside.
Adding Up Past Lives
Before all this blue business, Hotel Kemp's Corner was just as oblivious of you as you were of it. Turns out, you're the one who missed out. A quick phone chat with the hotel management revealed that several interesting guests floated in and out of here in the past: mathematician Shankuntala Devi checked in for months together; actor Rekha; and Jam Sahib, the prince of Jamnagar, Gujarat who reserved his favourite room at Hotel Kemp's Corner for 30 years. He'll be back soon to see this new avatar, they hope, and check in to the same room that is now dubbed The King's Abode.
The building may be missing a royal at the moment, but we're told that Santosh the gardener is currently pre-occupied with another King. He's tending to the mango tree that's brimming over with gifts for anyone who checks in this summer.
Getting there: Hotel Kemp's Corner, 131, August Kranti Marg, Kemp's Corner, call 9833661639, view the website and make reservations at www.hotelkempscorner.com, rooms start at Rs 4,000 per night.
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