Lakes & Lagoons

Alleppey, Cochin & the Backwaters, India Book from Book from £115 per night

Cruise languidly along the Keralan backwaters in a floating wooden hotel and watch the world go by...
Kerala is famous for its backwaters - the beautiful, palm-fringed network of canals linking towns along the Arabian Sea and inland. These waterways are still used today by boats ferrying cargoes of spices, fish and newspapers, not to mention locals propelling little dug-outs to visit friends or tend fields.

And you can join this picturesque fleet by boarding a Lakes & Lagoons riceboat. These are traditional country boats built from bamboo and jackfruit logs lashed together with coconut fibre, converted into comfortably furnished houseboats. You can board at any backwater dock and spend a day or two cruising to your destination.

Our favourite part was waking up and watching what felt like a living film, A Day in the Life of Kerala: young children brushing their teeth by the shore, women washing clothes, ducks floating by, the duck farmer smiling and waving… it certainly makes a change from morning rush hour.


  • The long, well-equipped boats have all of the comforts of a hotel and the beautiful bonus of peaceful scenes of Keralan life sliding by
  • Delicious, fresh and plentiful Keralan cuisine, with ingredients bought en route, is cooked on board by your personal chef
  • This is a chance to experience a journey that’s the antithesis of hectic city life: slow, soothing and restfully uncomplicated
  • Impeccable service from the on-board crew
  • The company has a genuine social conscience


  • The pesky mosquitoes can be the biggest drawback to the backwaters, so bring plenty of insect repellent
  • The air-conditioning is a mixed blessing: cool but uncomfortably loud. Please note the air-conditioning varies depending on your chosen boat
  • We thought the bedrooms on the Deluxe boats looked small and a little dingy; go for a Premium boat if you can
  • Backwater trips are becoming popular, so you may find yourself moored near quite a few other riceboats at nightfall

Best time to go

The best time to visit the backwaters is from October to April when it's dry, athough it can start to get oppressively hot from February. You could risk it at the start or end of the main monsoon season (May to September) but be prepared to get wet; in the south there's a chance of a ‘secondary monsoon’ (i.e a retreating one) hitting you in late November or early December.

Our top tips

Take lots of insect repellent, as well as books and games for passing time on deck. You might even want to bring that relic from our past, the letter-writing pad - if the scenes of Keralan life drifting past can't inspire you to put pen to paper then nothing will!

Great for...

  • Luxury Houseboats
  • 7 boats (1-4 bedrooms) + day cruise boat
  • All inclusive
  • 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


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 your floating hotel room.

Boats have 1, 2, 3 or 4 bedrooms (each with an ensuite shower room) with a choice of double or twin beds. The sleeping areas are spacious and plywood-partitioned, with curved bamboo ceilings, arched windows and rush-mat floors. The Deluxe boat rooms are a little small and dark; the Lake Royal Premium boat rooms are bigger and brighter - well worth the extra cost in our opinion.

The boats also have covered outdoor areas (lit by lanterns after dark), with wicker sofas and wooden tables for dining. The Premium boats have an additional upper deck, which is where we spent most of our time as it offered the best views and a lovely breeze. 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 boat and the Premium boats have full-time air conditioning. This is a godsend on those extra humid nights (which are so popular with mosquitoes), though note that the generator is noisy and can’t really be turned off once the crew has turned in.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Fan
  • Mosquito net


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 and served alongside plates of vegetables, breads and dips. The on-board chef can 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.

Coffee and baked snacks are available throughout the day - don't miss the banana fritters! Note that only bottled water is available on board, so if you want alcohol you are encouraged to bring it with you. Breakfast - tea, fresh juices, fruit and pancakes - is taken on the deck as you set off on another magical meander down the waterways.

Features include:

  • All meals included
  • Vegetarian menu


  • Sunbathe or read on the decks, or simply sit back, glass in hand, and watch the lilies float by
  • Try a spot of fishing (angling can be arranged in advance)
  • Spot birds swooping in and out of the water - you might see herons, egrets, kites, colourful kingfishers and even parakeets
  • Pause en route to visit a workshop where coir and other coconut-based items are produced
  • Stop off at a spice plantation and breathe in the mingling aromas of cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg
  • Come in August or January for the breathtaking Nehru Cup snakeboat races in Alleppey
  • Ask to be shown a kathakali performance, a theatrical story-telling with highly made-up actors and dancers
  • Browse through village markets or stop for tea on the banks
  • Watch passing fishermen dive for shellfish or angle for pearl-spot
  • Enjoy the constantly changing backdrop of paddy fields, villages, backyards and palm groves

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Fishing
  • Historical sites
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Shopping / markets
  • Spice plantations
  • Traditional cultures


Children will love the experience and novelty of it all, but equally will tire of it more quickly than adults. Under 5s are free and 6-15 year olds are charged reduced rates. Do remember that there are no guard rails or life jackets!

Best for:

Children (4-12 years)

Kid Friendly:


Cruises take place on the backwaters of Kerala in southern India.

By Air
Fly into Trivandrum or Cochin International.

From the Airport
If you fly to Trivandrum you'll need to travel overland to the central backwaters; you can reach most of the towns (Quilon, Alleppey, Cochin, Trichur) by rail as well as road. Lakes & Lagoons can arrange road transfers; enquire when booking. If you're arriving at Cochin you can take a taxi from the airport to the harbour, where you can begin your cruise.

Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.

More on getting to Kerala and getting around


  • Trivandrum Thiruvananthapuram International 0.0 km TVM
  • Cochin (Kochi) International 0.0 km COK


  • Beach 0.0 km
  • Shops 0.0 km
  • Restaurant 0.0 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 7 independent reviews from i-escape guests


We spent one night on the houseboat (family with 2 sons aged 15 and 19). It was a fabulous experience. The boat had everything we needed - pleased that rooms had mosquito nets as much needed in monsoon. Staff were knowledgeable, helpful and friendly (and looked very smart). Boat was well maintained with safety features such as fire extinguishers, life belts and life jackets. Food was delicious and plentiful and all cooked fresh on board - lunch, tea and coffee, keralan snacks, dinner and breakfast all included. The one night trip gave us an insight into life on a houseboat on the larger canals - to visit the smaller canals there was an optional canoe trip once we had moored for the evening (at extra charge). Visiting at the end of August out of season meant there are very few other houseboats around and the rain just added to the atmosphere. Thoroughly recommend this experience.


We opted for the honeymoon special - the best boat. Very clean and comfortable. Food good considering you're on a boat, the crew were excellent. They sell very poor wine at a high price to take on board. I would bring some good wine in bag (crew would not have a problem). Two night cruise the best as you see of the beaten track. We had small binoculars very useful. A highlight of our India trip. Def one of the highs


A fantastic experience not to be missed - the food alone was exquisite and there was so much of it. The room and boat was perfectly comfortable and the service from the team was excellent. We felt spoiled.


We spent only 1 night on the houseboat. This trip was more like an experience of what it's like to spend a night on a boat then of what it is to tour the backwaters. The amount of time actually navigating the backwaters was disappointing. Also, the boat is too large to sail the smaller backwaters. You need to take a canoe for the smaller backwaters.


We spent a night on a deluxe boat for 4/5 just before Christmas. The service was excellent and well organised. The food was delicious and the overall experience really special. Our air conditioning wasn't working properly and there wasn't really room on the floor for the extra bed for my son so we spent a hot night with three in a bed. Still, the morning light was stunning and it didn't spoil the magical experience. Well worth doing.


Wonderful experience. We were a bit disappointed that the trip follows a very fixed itinerary shared by all the other boats. The natural splendour of the backwaters and the impeccable service made up for it though.


We had a fabulous 2 night stay on a houseboat at the end of Sept. Weather was a bit mixed at that time of year. There were 3 staff - captain, chef and an engIne man. They were charming and pointed out various birds and things of interest. Food was fantastic - lots of it and very tasty - amazing flavours. If you are going to do one thing whilst in Kerala - this is it. It is a great way to relax and to see a different view of Kerala from the backwaters.


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