“Spoiling plantation retreat with romantic suites, set high in the hills near the Periyar Tiger Reserve”
Designed and built by Salim himself, the architecture is a graceful blend of traditional Keralan and contemporary Western, and the interior decoration reminded us of a posh New York Hotel. Its elegant olive, brown and white palette is jazzed up by bed-covers and curtains of funky black-and-white silk swirls.
The Suites, each around 600 sq.ft, sit either side of a compact leather-suite lounge and open-sided dining area, with a feature stone fireplace that is often lit during the cooler months of December and January.
The luxury Pool Villas are even more spacious (around 900 sq.ft apiece) and have large verandas, steam rooms and swimming pools (15'x12' and a depth of 4.5'). You get wonderful views down the valley, and a large level of privacy, so these are popular with honeymooners.
Largest of all at 1000 sq. ft. is the Presidential Villa, which is accessed by a private bridge. This and the budget-friendly Deluxe Double have been added since our visit, but appear to follow the same decorative styling of the other rooms.
All cool, smooth elegance, white walls reach up to raftered ceilings, deliciously comfortable kingsize four-posters have romantic white veil curtains, and floors are polished slate and local wood. Most also have garden baths, with candles and bath oils.
Bedrooms all have a private veranda, sitting area with sofabed (in the Suites; rollaway bed possible in the Pool Villas), desk, and pantry with fridge and tea and coffee station. The smart ensuite bathrooms, with state-of-the-art body-jet booths and open-roofed showers, plus dressing gowns, slippers, hairdryers, scales and comprehensive toiletries, feel thoroughly 5-star too.
Breakfast and dinner are included in your half-board room rate, lunch is modestly priced. In-room coffee and tea, chilled water, daily snacks and fruit are all complimentary.
The chef, Krishna, has 12 years’ experience in Keralan boutique hotels. He sources his fresh, organic fruit and vegetables from local villages, and serves a terrific fixed fusion menu of Keralan, North Indian and Continental, or any other dish you particularly fancy.
Our breakfast was a masala omelette, with watermelon, orange juice, and freshly baked bread rolls made by Pirkko, a Finnish friend of Salim’s who lives nearby, and acts as hostess. A complimentary snack of spicy deep-fried bananas on a bed of shredded, honeyed cabbage, served with a pot of strong Masala chai fuelled us through the afternoon. And our dinner was a tasty 4-course feast of clear chicken soup, tandooried pepper chicken kebab, Kingfish platter, and coconut soufflé.
Four tables in the dining area allow for independent or (when pushed together) more sociable dining with your hosts or other guests. The Suite rooms have a small table suitable for light refreshments; Pool Villas have a table and chairs by the pool.
If you want to go out for lunch, good eating-out options in Kumily include the Coffee Inn, Hotel Lakeshore, and lavish buffets at Spice Village with its Raj-style bar and billiard table.
Children are only welcome if they are very well-behaved and over 5, because of the luxury furnishings and out of respect for other guests’ peace. There’s an additional charge for extra beds but no babysitting or childminding service. Salim feels the property is really more suited to couples than families.
Families are not allowed to take the Pool Villas due to safety reasons (the plunge pools are 4.5 ft deep).