Noi Varo

Siolim, Anjuna & North Goa, India Book from US$500

A super-elegant, revamped Portuguese mansion (sleeps 6) in Siolim, with riverside tree platform to kick back on
The slicker twin to Kaju Varo, the orchard set-up in Ashvem, Noi Varo (‘River Breeze’ in Goan) was also created by ‘Shunya’, the brainchild of an Indian creative director turned social entrepreneur and his Scandinavian interior-designer partner. It has the same rustic palette, high-rafter ceilings, graceful East-West fusion and laid-back 2-legged chairs.

Surrounded by woods, and only 15 minutes' drive from Morjim and Ashvem beaches, Siolim village boasts the dazzling-white St Anthony’s church, and lots of beautiful old Portuguese/Goan houses. Though sadly they’re often empty and crumbling, and the village centre is run-down and dusty.

In stark contrast, Noi Varo’s intercom-secured gate opens onto a colonnaded porch between wooden-decked, waterlily-encircled bedroom verandas. Beyond is the huge, cool atrium hallway, featuring a long, gurgling, spotlit fountain, which also serves as a heated lounge pool. The 3 bedrooms leading off this atrium are a graceful blend of charming century-old Portuguese and chic minimalist brand-new. Beds are wide, firm and comfortable, the ensuite bathrooms spacious and modern, and Western technology is to hand with flatscreen TVs with Tata Sky, WiFi, and an iPod player in the cheerful lounge. Out back you'll find a thin infinity pool lined by decking, plus a shady sand garden and tree-platform beside a spur of the wide Chapora river.

Highs

  • The spacious, elegant and uncluttered design and décor throughout
  • The original antique features - jackwood doors and shutters, brass bolts and clasps, pod chests and a dowry box
  • The charming, eager-to-please staff;
  • The wonderful fusion menu
  • The sunbathing deck with swimming pool, palm-shaded barbecue area and big river-viewing tree platform
  • Rates are for the whole house; no extra charges for children or additional friends

Lows

  • Despite a large government sign forbidding it, there’s rubbish in the river, which is sometimes smelly
  • The delapidation of Siolim village contrasts sharply with Noi Varo’s luxury
  • There is a 14 night minimum stay over christmas

Best time to go

Noi Varo is open throughout the year. The best time is during the dry season (September to April), when the weather is warm and sunny, but not too hot at night, although the heat starts to climb as the monsoon approaches. The surrounding woods will be very lush during the monsoon, with lots of wildlife, and locals swear that it’s the most spectacular and relaxing time of year to visit.

Our top tips

If you’re trying to recharge something, it’s a good idea to check at regular intervals that your chosen socket hasn’t spontaneously died!

Great for...

Family
Spa
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • House Rental
  • 3
  • Breakfast (+ other meals on request)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Yoga platform
Room: Dusro Suite

Rooms

The entrance hallway to Noi Varo sets the tone: soaring up to the rafters over the oblong infinity fountain and walls graced with framed prints from photographer-creative director-social entrepreneur-owner Vikram, it’s sleek and impressive.

Two bedrooms open off it - both have little anterooms/dressing rooms connecting them to their bathrooms - and the third, is down a step next to the dining room. All are similarly spacious, with ochre polished concrete floors and air-conditioning, plus a lounge area in the suites. French doors lead out onto little deck verandas that are bordered by water lilies, and rooks cawing and other birds tweeting add a peaceful country feel.

The rooms are clean, artistic and serene. Heavy original jackwood doors and shutters lend a satisfyingly antique feel, though their clunky old bolts tend to need wangling. The rust-red, orange and ochre upholstery is all handwoven in India, and dressing gowns and towels are waffle-weave.

Wide beds (all doubles) are dressed in luxury-soft bedlinen. Wall-mounted flatscreen TVs face the beds, and you can get a DVD player on request – though you’ll need to bring your own movies. One bedroom has a mezzanine level with an additional single bed, reached via vertical metal rungs, so it's a good choice for parents with smaller children.

Bathrooms manage to be both modern (with Philippe Starck fittings and luxury rain showers) yet also soothingly earthy; natural soaps are supplied. The largest room, has a walk-in double-header shower.

There is also an additional loft space available which can sleep another couple, but its bathroom is a short walk away. Note that there are 8 speakers and an amp so you can plug in your iPod and supply music throughout the house.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Phone
  • Plunge pool
  • Satellite tv
  • Tv
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

Shunya spent 6 months training their head chef before they finalised the exotic and extensive menu; he now cooks at Kaju and oversees the kitchen at Noi.

You need to order meals the evening before or after breakfast; prices fluctuate according to market rates. We tried the multi-dished ‘Goan feast’ which was spicy and interesting, particularly the digestif of ‘Coconut and Tamarind Curry’ in a glass; the signature 'Crab Leek Souffle', 'Bouillabaisse' and the 'Steamed Squid stuffed with herbs' dishes are all recommended. The simple window-walled dining room seats 6-8, and fresh fish barbecues out in the sand garden can be ordered a day in advance.

The following day, a simple, tasty breakfast of coffee, fruit juice, warm poi rolls and poached egg was served out on our little deck veranda; you can order eggs as omelettes, boiled, scrambled and sunny side up as well. Porridge, muesli, homemade yoghurt and condiments (lemon curd, passion fruit curd) are also on the menu.

For a change of scene, visit the quaint, tiny Candle Light restaurant just down the road. Run by the friendly Tony, it serves cheap and cheerful food: local chicken, pork and beef recipes, fried or curried seafood and Chinese. Otherwise Siolim is short on restaurants, so guests tend to eat either in-house or down at one of the beaches.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity: St Anthony\\\'s Church

Activities

  • Kick back on the sundeck’s 2-legged chairs and loungers or laze on the treehouse platform, cushioned garden steps or wicker armchairs

  • Take a yoga class on the sand garden’s yoga platform

  • Do lengths in the long olive pool

  • Read in the sunny, colourful lounge or the cool of your stylish bedroom

  • Soak with a cocktail in the atrium’s heated and spotlit lounge pool

  • Swim, windsurf or sunbathe and read on a cafe/restaurant-provided lounger on one of a multitude of beaches (15-20 minutes drive away)

  • Go exploring by rented motorbike, with or without helmet

  • Sightsee in Goa’s river-mouth capital Panjim, particularly the wonderful old Portuguese Fontainhas quarter which seems preserved in another age

  • Visit the plethora of old forts and dazzling white churches left behind by the Portuguese

  • Visit the local Mapusa (pronounced ‘Mapsa’) market, or famous wednesday and saturday night markets in Anjuna, both just 15 minutes drive away

  • Book a bird-watching, crocodile- or dolphin-spotting cruise; Kaju Varo can book you in with local celebrity naturalist Rahul Alvarez for bird and reptile trips

  • Take a day trip to a Spice Farm - tour, light lunch and Cashew-Feni-tasting all included

  • Go sailing, or parascending over the sea

  • Take an (in-house-organised) coastal angling trip, for a few hours, or a day and a night with a basic lodge sleepover

  • Snorkelling trips can also be arranged; locals will point you to the best secret sites

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Farm tour
  • Historical sites
  • Motorbike hire
  • Museums / galleries
  • Parascending
  • Sailing
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Wildlife
  • Windsurfing
  • Yoga

Kids

Noi Varo might be rather too elegant for young kids, but they’d enjoy the flatscreen TVs with DVDs, mezzanine office for internet-surfing, computer games and divan-sprawling, and iPod-playing in the colourful lounge, plus, of course, the pool, sand-garden (and barbecues) and riverside tree platform. Cots and rollaway beds are available, and child-minding can be arranged if you want an adults-only night out.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

The 2 larger rooms each have a divan in the lounge area and a mezzanine loft space with an additional bed.

Kid Friendly:

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