As a megacity with a long and illustrious history, Mumbai is home to nearly 21 million people and is one of the most diverse cities to work out of as a remote worker. Complete with all the trimmings you’d expect of a city that is India’s financial capital and the home of Bollywood, Mumbai is the safest metropolitan city for women and solo travelers in India and the second-most honest city globally.
Originally indigenous Indian Koli and Agri land, Mumbai, the city has seen several shifts through its history. Most notably in 1661, it was gifted to the British by the Portuguese for Princess Catherine of Braganza’s dowry in her wedding to Charles II of England. In fact, “Bombay” as the city was once called, comes from the Portuguese for “good little bay”.
Today, the city is home to a host of major and minor ethnic groups—Parsi, Jewish, East Indian, Bohri and beyond—each of which have added to the city’s vibrant culinary narrative. Throughout Mumbai, you’ll find a plethora of eateries, cafes, and bars at every price point. Although the digital nomad community here isn’t as vibrant or tight-knit as say, Goa, Mumbai has an abundance of coworking spaces and work-friendly cafes and a handful of meet ups for freelancers and digital nomads.
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Mumbai’s historic arts and culture district, “Kala Ghoda” literally means “Black Horse” while “Fort” refers to Fort George, a now-demolished British-era fort. This is where old world charm mingles with new world comforts. Nestled among the iconic Indo-Gothic architecture, you’ll find old-school Irani and Parsi cafes alongside more upscale coffee shops and bars, art galleries, museums, bookshops, and more.
You’ll encounter streets bursting with hawkers selling everything from clothes and handbags (especially on the aptly-named “Fashion Street”) to musical instruments to food and drink. By-lanes are bustling with artists selling their watercolor paintings and jewelry.
Traffic is always mad in this area, so you’re best off getting around on foot and using public transport in the form of Uber, Ola, black-and-yellow taxis, or the “Mumbai Local,” the city’s rail network. As a matter of fact, one of India’s busiest railway stations is the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus) is here, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s houses a well-hidden rail museum within its walls.
Most prominently, the area is home to several heritage buildings converted into offices, and with courthouses in the vicinity, it is not uncommon to see black-robed lawyers parked in cafes enjoying bun-maska and chai—or beer, depending on the time of day.
Among the coworking spaces are Ministry of New, a bright high-ceilinged venue with quirky decor, Bootstart, WeWork. Despite the sparse selection of coworking spaces there are plenty of cafes to choose from including the forever befitting Kala Ghoda Cafe, which has an especially great akuri (a Parsi egg dish) and a stellar flourless chocolate cake. Other tried-and-true local favorites are Zen Cafe, Cafe Universal, and The Nutracker. Each has an extensive menu and are typically crowd-free mid-morning, so if you’re looking to park yourself somewhere for the day these are excellent options.
For post-work drinks, head to 145 Kala Ghoda, a club-and-bar with lively music, or if you’re looking for something more mellow, try Irish House, a local chain that indulges the stereotypical “Irish pub” vibe.
Moving slightly north from the old town is Lower Parel. Once home to a number of textile mills, some of which are converted into offices and eateries, today the area is a concrete jungle housing a plethora of commercial office spaces in high-rise buildings.
You’re spoiled for choice here, as far as cafes to work out of, coworking spaces, and bars and eateries go. You can book a desk at 603, an affordable coworking brand with branches across the city, or Dextrus, a more sophisticated, upscale alternative. And if neither of those suit you, there’s always Workloft or Social. an all-in-one cafe, bar, restaurant chain that functions as a coworking space during the day and has plenty of power outlets and quality WiFi. Perhaps most alluring, their coworking plans all include a free food and drink package.
If coworking spaces aren’t for you, or if you’re looking for a change in setting, consider heading to one of the area’s many cafes. Among these are Zane’s Cafe, a cozy space with no-fuss industrial decor, the always reliable Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, or for late risers: Pokket Cafe or the greener more boho Saz Cafe.
Perhaps the best part of working out of Lower Parel, however, is the food and drink. Grab a drink and a bite to eat at The Bombay Canteen, a local street food and fare made new. Hit up anti-Social or The Bombay Cartel for some live music to wind down from the day or hop over to 145 The Mill or KOKO if you’re feeling like a night on the town. There are also many bars and eateries between Todi Mills, Kamala Mills, or Mathuradas Mills, starting with Toit, a charming taproom in the latter.
Just know that the vibrant nightlife in Lower Parel offers does come at a price: it’s near impossible to work out of most cafes once office hours wind down. So if you’re a night owl looking to keep your coffee close and your focus geared to your work, this perhaps isn’t the area you want to work out of with crowds bursting in by the dozen.
Cross the iconic Worli Sea Link bridge from Mumbai proper to the quintessentially hip Mumbai suburb, Bandra West. Often dubbed the “Queen of Suburbs,” Portuguese influence in the area is prominently displayed in the residential and religious architecture. Lanes are bursting with colorful street art, outdoor shopping is plenty (especially along Waterfield road), and there is a lot to keep you busy.
For a creative coworking space, head to Adagio, a small but unique venue that doubles as an event space, which is especially geared towards creatives. Other coworking options include Social, 603, and The Boho Pad (technically in the neighboring Santacruz), another coworking space especially well-suited to those in more creative fields.
What Bandra lacks in coworking spaces, however, it more than makes up for in work-friendly cafes. Bombay Coffee House on Waterfield Road is consistently a solid bet for anyone looking to park themselves in one spot with a good flat white beside their laptops and work undisturbed for hours. The Bagel Shop is another local favorite, offering New York-style bagels with both indoor and outdoor seating (which is pet-friendly). Likewise, Sabko, a hole-in-the-wall which offers excellent coffee and baked goods is always a good bet, especially on weekdays, and pet friendly too. Other work-friendly cafe staples include Blue Tokai, Birdsong, Pali Village Cafe, and Method Bandra which has lovely beignets and doubles as a tiny art gallery. There is a cafe in Bandra for every mood and every mission.
Once you’re done with work, wind down with a walk along the Bandstand Promenade, which features a jogging track and a park. Alternatively, head to Bonobo, a popular rooftop bar or Toto’s Garage, a garage-themed bar with a VW Love Bug hoisted above the island and staff dressed in mechanics’ overalls. And if you’re looking for something more authentically Bandra, try Janta, a typically Indian dive bar, complete with local lager, unabashedly greasy dal fry and curry, and pillowy naan.
Getting around Bandra is exceptionally easy, since there are auto rickshaws (which don’t operate south of the Worli Sea Link) and the neighborhood is quite pedestrian-friendly.
A prominent business hub, the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) is where most multinational companies are headquartered in Mumbai. Unlike the rest of the city, this is the only neighborhood that lacks “Mumbai charm” entirely. It looks like a generic big city with shiny skyscrapers and an abundance of bike lanes. The one advantage to this, however, is the plethora of coworking spaces and work-friendly cafes—not to mention bars and restaurants.
As far as coworking spaces go, there’s a 16-floor WeWork in the neighborhood, which is especially well-suited for remote workers looking for that consistency a familiar environment provides. The same people will also be happy to note there are three Starbucks outlets of varying sizes here. Other coworking spaces in the neighborhood include 91 Springboard, and the slightly more upscale Dextrus.
For work-friendly cafes, head to Blue Tokai, Poetry by Love and Cheesecake, Theobroma, or Capital Social. And for those who prefer tea over coffee, there’s Tea Trails (they also do bubble tea). As is the case with most places in Mumbai, be warned that these places are furiously busy on weekends and once the workday is over.
Still, perhaps the best part of working out of BKC is the variety of food and drink afforded to you after a long work day. A few classics are O Pedro, a stellar Goan restaurant that boasts delectable Goan chouriço and a refreshing selection of beers on tap, including a 'Nariyal Paani' (coconut water) ale. Other favorites are Toast and Tonic (check their Instagram for live jazz nights), Yauatcha, CinCin, and Nara Thai. Last, but not least, there are also several pay-per-use gyms and swimming pools, if that’s how you prefer to unwind.
Getting around BKC is exceptionally easy, and you can bike, walk, take the bus, an autorickshaw, a black-and-yellow cab or Ola and Uber.
A quaint northern suburb, Andheri West is becoming an increasingly popular neighborhood for young working professionals and families alike. “Andheri” which means “darkness” in Hindi is anything but gloomy today, boasting a quality assortment of cafes, breweries, and restaurants.
For remote workers looking to work out of coworking spaces, options are somewhat limited, with the two most accessible options being The Boardroom and Star Coworking. Both are affordable no-frills spaces suited to young coworkers, but The Boardroom offers event and shoot spaces too—perfect if you’re a makeup artist, fashion designer, photographer or stylist, or someone working with film industry clients from the next door suburb of Versova.
What Andheri West lacks in coworking spaces, it makes up for in work-friendly cafes. Apart from the usual suspects (Starbucks, Coffee by Di Bella), check out Magari, which has a lovely outdoorsy feel with plenty of light and plants. Other options include Bistro 1, 1BHK (where you might spot the odd Bollywood celebrity) and Cat Cafe Studio, home to tens of furry felines for you to play with on your breaks.
Working out of a cafe in Andheri West is far more wholesome (and dare I say, peaceful) than other neighborhoods most days, because there’s no office crowd wandering in once work is done. You can easily settle in for the whole day and, depending on where you choose, stay till late (Bistro 1, for instance, is open between 10 am and midnight).
The neighborhood is also home to several bars for post-work drinks. If you’re looking for a cold beer on a hot, muggy Mumbai day, head to Independence Brewing Company. For a space that’s a little more about the “vibes,” try The Little Door. This is an especially popular brunch spot that lies behind a little blue door; check their social media for updates on their weekly live music set.