Golden beaches, swaying palms, tropical sunshine… Goa has all the ingredients of a classic honeymoon. But it’s also imbued with an easy-going vibe that makes it perfect for post-wedding relaxation. What’s more, it’s home to some rather unusual hideaways, all offering an alternative to the usual flashy honeymoon resorts. Here are 5 of our favourites…
Perched above a near-deserted cove in southern Goa, The Cape Goa combines rustic charm with a serious dose of indulgence. Rooms take the form of thatched wooden cabins, each with a huge bed, an indoor-outdoor bathroom fronted by a wall of glass, and a private sun deck with an alfresco hot tub that gazes out over the ocean. The whole place is geared towards romance and relaxation: days are spent strolling barefoot along the beach or lingering over cocktails in the open-sided bar, and sunsets are spectacular. Best of all are the great-value rates: stays here start at just £73 per room per night.
If you’d like your love nest to feel homely and authentic, you’ll love Coco Shambhala in the quiet village of Nerul. Hidden in verdant gardens, among rustling jacaranda, banana trees and hibiscus, are 4 beautiful villas, all renovated with heart and soul by English owner Giles. Inside you’ll find paint-stripped furniture, Goan antiques and open-to-the-rafter living areas; outside, verandas piled with plump cushions. They also have self-catering kitchens, but you needn’t spend your time cooking: a chef service is available on request, and there are plenty of restaurants within walking distance. Pretty Coco Beach is also a short stroll away; alternatively, just kick back in your private spa pool and let your cares melt away.
If it’s splendour you’re after, take a look at Siolim House. This 17th-century Indo-Portuguese casa palacio once belonged to the Governor of Macau, but was left to ruin before being beautifully restored by current owner Varun Sood – so beautifully, in fact, that it earned a Unesco heritage award. There are mother-of-pearl windowpanes, marble details and a cool inner courtyard lined with pillars. Antique furniture mixes with contemporary pieces in the 10 bedrooms, all of which boast four-poster beds draped in muslin and embroidered silks, and delicious Goan food is served up by candlelight each evening. The jewel in the crown is the blue-tiled pool and spa pavilion, where cushioned loungers and Ayurvedic massages await.
The words honeymoon, glamping and India don’t often feature together, but it’s a wonderful combination for those seeking something a little bit different. Nestled among coconut groves in North Goa and reached via a bamboo footbridge, Otter Creek Tents offer a romantic and comfortable spin on sleeping under canvas. Inside they’re cool and spacious, with four-poster beds and sit-out areas jutting out over a saltwater creek; you also get full ensuite bathrooms with hot showers. They’re just 200m from a quiet stretch of sand, where you can watch fishermen and dolphins, swim in warm water and dine on fresh South Indian food. And when you’re done with the beach, nothing beats swinging in a hammock by your private jetty, cocktail in hand.
In Sanskrit, nilaya means ‘abode in the blue’, or simply heaven, and it’s an apt name for this quirky little hotel. Set high above Goa’s coastal plains, it was created by fashion stylist Claudia Derain, her husband Hari Ajwani and celebrated architect Dean d’Cruz, and built largely from local laterite stone. The result is a vibrant mosaic of Mogul domes and Moorish arches, with echoes of Arabian Nights, Rajasthani palaces and Gaudí’s Barcelona. Lounge on silk daybeds in the music room, dine under the stars by the lavish pool, and sip cocktails at sunset as the sea glitters in the distance. Magical.