Karikkathi Beach Houses

Near Kovalam, Southern Beaches, India Book from

Reviewed by Emma Taylor
Simplicity beside a truly stunning private beach - 2 homely staffed cottages (sleeping 2-6), quite literally off the beaten track
Karikkathi Beach Houses are quite simply that: small cottages next to a gorgeous white sandy beach - it would be difficult to get any closer to the Arabian Sea without falling in. One sits right on the shore and another waits just a few metres up the cliff. Reached on foot via a path winding through coconut groves, both houses are fabulously isolated and scenic, undisturbed by traffic or day-trippers.

Designed by Swiss architect Karl Damschen (creator of the nearby Niraamaya Surya Samudra hotel, which shares the little beach), the 2 cottages are rustic yet elegant, with palm-thatched roofs supported by casuarina rafters, clean white walls and shady verandas. Windows with wooden shutters frame ocean views, floors are tiled in terracotta and the simple furniture is made from wood and rattan. Outside, tiered terraces are brightened with hibiscus flowers and red tablecloths, sprinkled with crushed shells that feel powdery-soft underfoot and furnished with hammocks and loungers. Practitioners offer on-site Ayurvedic treatments, and a staff of 3 to look after your every need, including cooking up meals if you wish. Your front garden is Karikkathi beach, where you can lie back to the sound of the crashing surf and watch the evening sun dissolve into the sea like a molten coin.

Highs

  • A stand-out beach setting; the sea views and sunsets are out of this world and with no direct road access it’s all coconut groves, soft sand and crashing waves
  • Dedicated staff, who provide friendly yet discreet service
  • Authentic meals and curries available daily
  • Beautifully quiet at night under the stars - it’s about escaping and enjoying beach life - bring a book and zone out
  • It’s a great spot for a chilled-out week of expert Ayurveda treatments

Lows

  • Limited on-site resources, and use of sister hotel Niraamaya Surya Samudra's facilities incurs a charge
  • During our 2016 revisit, the interiors felt a bit run-down. The soft furnishing were showing signs of wear and tear, but the owner assures us they get refreshed seasonally
  • No pool and the sea is only suitable for strong swimmers (and not even those when the red flags are out)
  • Hard to find (no signs and printed directions don’t help much); get the property to arrange an airport transfer if you can
  • If you don't book both rooms in your cottage, you may find yourself sharing with strangers

Best time to go

The peak season is from December to March (temps 24-32C). April to May is the hottest and driest period, when the heat often reaches 36C. August and September are a balmy. November and December are the coolest months, when it drops down to 24C.

During monsoon season (June-July and October-November), it usually rains for a few hours each day but temperatures remain still warm (around 28C). This period is much quieter and well suited to Ayurvedic treatments.

Our top tips

It's very tricky to find, so if you’re travelling independently, call ahead 10 minutes before you arrive so that staff can come and meet you. They'll also help carry your luggage along the 100m path through the coconut grove.

We think it's worth staying for a minimum of 4 nights to really switch off – ideal for an end of India wind down near the airport.

Great for...

Beach
Family
Spa
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Beach Villas
  • 4
  • Restaurants nearby
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
Room:

Rooms

The two cottages are simple and homely, with an emphasis on the location rather than mod-cons; don't come expecting luxury. The original cottage was built as a holiday home for owner Sajjad and his family and sits close to the beach. The newer (upper) cottage followed later, it's set further back but is larger and furnished with antiques.

Both have 2 ensuite bedrooms (with rain showers) separated by a central lounge room. The cottages can be taken as a whole or split for 2 couples (we shared, and found that you get lots of room and never feel on top of each other).

The spaces are refreshingly airy and open to the rafters throughout, with shuttered windows framing sea views like photographs on the wall. Bedrooms have fans and mosquito nets (a necessity in this part of the world), but there are no phones, air-conditioning or TVs to disturb the peace. There’s enough outside space for guests to co-exist happily, although having a whole cottage to yourselves would be blissful.

Each also has access to a simple Ayurvedic treatment room, one under the upper cottage with a consulting cubby-hole, the other in a shed behind the lower cottage.

Features include:

  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Internet access
  • Mosquito net
  • Terrace

Eating

There's an on-site kitchen and staff can provide up to 3 meals a day. Expect unpretentious food; it's local Keralan cooking at its best, although if you're staying a long time it might become slightly repetitive.

Dinner is served at sunset by candlelit - it’s a feast. We enjoyed marinated grilled chicken with local spices, a selection of curries (pumpkin, snake gourd cooked in coconut paste), Keralan red rice and Chapatis. They do have beer available, but try and order the night before.

Served on your terrace overlooking the sea, breakfast is a hearty spread of toast, eggs any way, fresh fruit and juice, coffee or tea. Equally tasty, our laid-back lunch was 3 fresh and tasty veg curries with rice, dhal, and chapati’s.

To mix it up a little you can eat next door at Niraamaya Surya Samudra, which has a couple of restaurants and an excellent variety of menus.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Cooking classes
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Have an Ayurveda consultation with the highly-qualified doctor. Treatment packages or single-session massages are also available from the on-site therapists (there are good deals in low season), as are therapeutic diets if you want to go the whole hog
  • Catch up on some reading in a palm-strung hammock, or watch butterflies, squirrels and sea eagles swooping down to catch fish
  • Wander the beautiful white sandy beach (check for red flags before swimming)
  • Visit Niraamaya Surya Samudra to swim in the pool or relax in the spa (additional cost)
  • Take a tuk-tuk to Kovalam or request an on-site yoga session
  • For some city buzz, Trivandrum (30 minutes' drive) has a huge Hindu Temple, a 200-year-old palace, various museums and lots of shops
  • Book a day trip to Kanyakumari, the point where the Bay of Bengal meets the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea
  • Spend a day in Varkala and chill out with the hippies in a laidback clifftop bar
  • Shop for food, fabrics, and even tailor-made clothes in local villages (staff can provide suggestions)

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Ayurvedic treatments
  • Cooking classes
  • Historical sites
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Well being
  • Wildlife

Kids

The cottages are a great option for families with older kids who like to escape the modern world and appreciate nature.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

You’ll need to book a whole cottage: each holds 2 bedrooms (doubles or twins), with a small extra bed available if required. Older children will enjoy the fact that the rooms are separated by hallways, which gives them some privacy. Couples with toddlers should book the bigger rooms in the upper cottage.

Babysitting:

Childminding and babysitting are available on request

Baby equipment:

Baby cots are available on request

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

Kids Activities nearby:

Families Should Know:

The garden is not fenced, the steps head straight down the rocks to the beach and the strong currents and pounding waves mean the sea is too dangerous for kids to swim in.

Distances:

  • Airport: 30 minutes
  • Shops: 5-10 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

4/
Rooms
4/
Food
4/
Service
6/
Value
5/
Overall

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