Gramam Homestay

Cochin & the Backwaters, India Book from £35

Get a taste of the real Kerala by checking into this authentic and super-friendly homestay, just 10km from Fort Cochin
The warm and welcoming Neduveli family - owner Jos, his wife Lyma and their two charming boys - open their traditional Keralan home to just a few guests at a time. They've created a wonderfully relaxed and personal atmosphere, and provide a real insight into Keralan traditions and culture. Their house is on an island; a lush garden slopes past coconut palms, mango trees and shady hammocks down to the lagoons. There are 2 guest rooms: an interconnecting twin and single in one wing of the bungalow (the family live in the other) and a separate Backwater Cottage for 2-4 (which is worth the extra cost). Expect airy interiors, antique furniture, superb seafood curries and expert travel advice from Jos. He can arrange an overnight backwater cruise, a trip to a hill plantation, rafting, tiger trails, boating, or fishing with the locals.

Bustling Fort Cochin, with its antique shops, spice markets and kathakali dances is 10km away; to the north are long beaches and Chinese fishing nets. Borrow a bike and binoculars for birdwatching, sunbathe in the gardens, or just kick back in the hammock with a book. Whatever you do, at the end of the day, it really feels like you've come home.

Highs

  • The hosts are helpful, kind and hugely informative about local life, politics, history and tradition
  • They offer excellent tailored tours which avoid the hassle of tourist stalls and bus stations
  • You'll get a genuine experience which you could never have by staying in a hotel - with wonderful home cooking too
  • The backwaters setting is tranquil and meditative - especially the gorgeous cottage
  • It's easily accessible - close to Fort Cochin, yet away from its hustle and pollution

Lows

  • This isn't as stylish as other i-escape places, but it makes up for it with the warm welcome
  • We've had reports that the Garden Room looks tired
  • The neighbouring Hindu temple has evening or early morning music, so take earplugs if you're a light sleeper
  • There's not a lot to do in the evenings after dinner
  • The mosquitoes can be a problem - bring lots of repellent
  • Sometimes the water runs lukewarm in the shower

Best time to go

From a climatic point of view, the best time to visit is from the end of November to March, when it's dry and clear, though temperatures start to rise significantly from February onwards. From May through to October there is first a southwest monsoon in June and July, then a milder northeast monsoon in mid October and November, which bring rain and wind to the whole region, especially the coast. There is often some respite from the rains in August and September.

Our top tips

If you like the anonymity and luxury of a large hotel, this isn't for you. But if you want to be warmly welcomed, eat delicious home-cooked foods and be shown around Kerala by an expert, then book in now.

Great for...

Eco
Foodie
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Homestay Guesthouse
  • 2
  • Breakfast (+ other meals on request)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Bicycles Available
Room: Backwater Cottage

Rooms

The Garden Room is in a wing of the main house and, while perhaps not as stylish as other i-escape hotels around Cochin, it's meticulously clean and tidy. You get a mosquito-netted twin room, a second single room, your own veranda (perfect for afternoon tea), and a fan - but, in keeping with Jos' eco-friendly philosophy, no air-conditioning. There are old wooden shutters, patterned wall hangings and quirky old furniture (luggage racks made of bamboo, old mango pots converted to bed lamps and wooden stags' heads on the wall). The 2 bathrooms are small but spotless, with walk-in showers.

However, if it's available we would definitely recommend the Backwater Cottage. Tucked among palms by the water's edge a stone's throw from the main house, it's a delightfully restored farm bungalow once used by the family for processing coconuts and coir making. The large, open-plan interior has twin beds (with 2 extra beds available on request), a desk, a sitting area and a kitchenette with a fridge. The semi-outdoor bathroom has a shower with solar water heater and there's a wraparound veranda and a swing seat for shady lazing. All in all, it's wonderfully spacious, clean and quiet - and also suitable for the less mobile, having no steps at the entrance.

Features include:

  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Internet access

Eating

Home cooking rarely comes as delicious and authentic as this. Meals are taken in the dining room; the family dine separately.

Breakfast is traditional Keralan, but if you'd prefer eggs, toast and cereal, just ask in advance. Food seems to keep coming all day thereafter, including complimentary afternoon tea on your veranda.

Most guests like to do day trips, therefore taking other meals elsewhere, however lunch and dinner are available with advance warning. Expect such delicacies as seafood curry and rice, prawn stir fry, fish moley and vellayappam (pancakes), and Kerala chicken curry with chapathi or biriyanis. Jos also has good recommendations for restaurants in Cochin if you plan to go sightseeing or spend the evening watching Kathakali dances.

If you fancy learning to cook some Keralan dishes, you can join Lyma in the kitchen and learn some top tips, or a more formal cooking programme can be arranged. Fort Cochin has plenty of choice for dining out, and there's one restaurant within walking distance.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Communal dining
  • Cooking classes
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Before you arrive, let Jos know what you're interested in doing and he can prepare a tailormade itinerary for you that could include staying at other homestays in the region if required. He will find a safe and reliable driver - most likely with a classic Ambassador car - who won't steer you towards his cousin's shop and who will be a mine of information

  • Jos also hosts several tours of his own, which let you experience local life and which come highly praised

  • Take an early morning trip to a prawn farm then join a local family for breakfast, or visit a spice plantation and see how rubber, vanilla, pepper and cardamon are grown

  • Try a sunset cruise on the backwaters and fish with the locals en route, or stay overnight in a houseboat

  • Take a tour of the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary

  • Go on a day visit to a non-touristy beach suitable for swimming

  • Take a rickshaw into historic Fort Cochin, with its antique shops and spice market. You can watch a Kathakali dancing display and check out the picturesque fishing boats and Chinese nets

  • Examine the spiritual side of Kerala: there are numerous temples to explore nearby, as well as a 350-year-old Nalukettu house in an ancient architectural style with a snake god in its kavu (sacred grove)

  • Sit by the water and read a book then meander through the nearby gardens (coconuts, areca nuts, mango, medicinal plants, pepper and pineapples are all grown near Gramam)

  • Ask Jos to organise Ayurvedic treatments or a yoga class, or hone your culinary skills during Lyma's Keralan cooking lessons

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Ayurvedic treatments
  • Birdwatching
  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Historical sites
  • Shopping / markets
  • Traditional cultures
  • Yoga

Kids

Familes with children of all ages are welcome and Jos will happily tailor activities to their needs. Western options are available for breakfast on request.

Best for:

Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

The Backwater Cottage can accommodate 2 extra beds and has a kitchenette, while the Garden Room has a single that would a child.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots are available on request.

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
9/
Food
10/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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