Soho House Mumbai has been in the making for years. Each time we heard murmurs of a launch, they either ended up as excited rumours or operational hiccups. But now, after enough intrigue to spawn an urban legend, the storied members-only club that was founded in 1995 by restaurateur and club proprietor Nick Jones, in the heart of London’s Soho neighbourhood, is finally here. And Mumbai is clamouring to be let through the doors.
The rooftop at Soho House Mumbai, overlooking Juhu Beach
Simply, it’s a members-only club. But only for those from the creative scene — think artists, musicians, writers, actors, and so on. No lawyers, bankers or accountants, please. It’s been Soho House’s credo since it began. And now, 22 houses (across UK, Europe and North America) later, it’s no different. So, you won’t see any power suits in the hallways. Instead, you’ve got a deliberately casual dress code that’s perfectly suited to Mumbai’s year-round climate.
The Main Barn at Soho Farmhouse
Literally everybody who’s anybody wants to be a member of Soho House. And its strict no-photos policy means it’s also a celebrity hotspot — Karan Johar, Alia Bhatt and Ranveer Singh have already dropped by and (ironically) taken photos. George Clooney and Elizabeth Hurley are regulars at the club’s Shoreditch House branch, one of its seven houses in London. David Beckham has a country estate around the corner from Soho Farmhouse in Oxfordshire, and pops around every now and then with the fam.
The seven-bedroom Farm House at Soho Farmhouse
Fresh produce at Soho Farmhouse’s organic garden
I actually spent a wonderful night there, cocooned in old-world splendour in a rustic cottage, complete with hardwood floors and antique fixtures. Apart from that plush seven-bedroom almost-mansion masquerading as a cute cottage, Soho Farmhouse has 100 acres to explore, only a few of which are taken up by its 40 cabins, my aforementioned cottage, another smaller cottage, tents, multiple restaurants, cinema, gym, lake, two swimming pools, spa (stocked with its own Cowshed label of all natural products), stables, cycling tracks, organic garden… you get the picture.Let’s just say that if I had to ever pick a place to be lost in, this would be it.
Picante de la casa
A 100 acres is as much privacy anyone could possibly want, without having to forego an ounce of luxury. I spent a few days in London too, hopping between three of its other branches — White City House, 76 Dean Street and 40 Greek Street — for meals, quick tours, rooftop sundowners and spa sessions. Soho House is known for its superb cocktails, called ‘house tonics’, served across all outposts, and two of the best ones are available in Mumbai: picante de la casa (a potent tequila-agave-red chilli number) and one of my favourites, eastern standard, an elevated lemonade, made with generous lashings of vodka or gin; perfect for the heat.
Mac and cheese
Each of Soho House’s properties draws from the city it’s in; not only in terms of its cultural programming and events, but right from its architecture and design. In Mumbai, it’s no different. The interior of the 10-storey building in Juhu is an ode to Indian craftsmanship and design, all while keeping Soho House’s sleek global signature in mind.
So you’ll find massive leather armchairs and minimalist bar stools sharing space with Indian antiques and blockprinted fabrics from Rajasthan, and traditional Indian cement tiles juxtaposed with marble-top counters and terrazo tabletops. And that’s just the decor.
THE MUMBAI HOUSE:
Algorithm For Living Well (2016) by Bharti Kher
Look around; there’s Subodh Gupta’s installation of stainless-steel utensils, My Stars (2015), and Bharti Kher’s bindi-onboard Algorithm For Living Well (2016), among works by other artists such as Princess Pea, Asim Waqif and Raqib Shaw. The local signature pervades the menu too, where kheema pao, tandoor-style mix grills, kathi rolls, dal makhani and butter chicken sit alongside Soho House’s signature dishes, like the mac and cheese or the meatballs.
My Stars (2015) by Subodh Gupta
The good news is that you don’t have to be a member to dig into these, because there are two restaurants open to the public on the ground floor itself: Cecconi’s Mumbai and The Allis. The former has sweeping sea views, as does most of the building with its 38 bedrooms, gym, screening room and a floor dedicated solely to members’ events. But the inarguable jewel in the crown is the rooftop. This is where Soho House’s trademark pool overlooks the blazing city lights on one side and the endless ocean on the other. And it’s where you’ll want to spend all your time, rubbing shoulders with the cultural set that’s going to snap up those coveted memberships.
If you’ve ever wanted the inside information on the city’s most exclusive gatherings, here’s where they’re all going to be. Suit up. Except, don’t.