“Cruise languidly along the Keralan backwaters in a floating wooden hotel and watch the world go by...”
Unbelievably, not a single nail is used in the construction of the Lakes & Lagoons’ riceboats - that’s traditional of course, but it does seem a marvel when you’re drifting down the river in a slow boat to Cochin… in fact, it feels like you’re in a floating hotel room, with a moveable feast of scenery drifting by.
The sleeping areas are spacious and plywood-partitioned, with curved bamboo ceilings, arched windows and rush-mat floors. The odd section of dark wood panelling is offset by soothing cream walls and cushions provide the occasional splash of lime green or zingy yellow. Boats have 1, 2, 3 or 4 bedrooms (each with an ensuite shower room) with a choice of comfortable double or twin beds.
The boats also have covered outdoor areas (lit by lanterns after dark), who’s wicker sofas are scattered with luxuriously squashy cushions, and wooden tables for dining while you watch the world float by. The Honeymoon Special Boat has a greater emphasis on privacy as you can access the deck area at the front of the boat from the room.
On the Deluxe boats air-conditioning is provided between 9pm and 7am, while the Honeymoon Special Boat and the Lake Royal Premium boats have full time air-conditioning. This is a plus on those extra humid nights (which are so popular with mosquitoes) but the generator is noisy and can’t really be turned off once the crew has turned in (they have a separate sleeping area). You may prefer to curl up quietly under your mosquito net and listen instead to the water’s tranquil lap-lap.
If you would prefer a smaller taste of life on the backwaters, you can opt for the Day Cruise. Lasting approximately 4 hours, you’ll be served lunch, tea and snacks while you pootle along the river.
At sundown, it’s time to moor and make way for local fishermen and their boats. Some of their nightly catches (perhaps pearl-spot or prawns) may appear on your plate at dinner or lunch, seared and seasoned with local spices. The on-board chef will also prepare delicious chicken and creamy vegetarian curries in his kitchenette (which is where the superbly chilled beer is kept!). Food is tailored to preferences, so you can ask for dishes to be as spicy or as mild as you like.
Meals are set appetizingly on the supper table in the lounge, where one of the helpful crew will have raised the window’s bamboo flaps to frame the shimmery sunset. Breakfast - tea, fresh juices, fruit and pancakes - is taken on the deck as you set off on another magical meander down the waterways.