Old Harbour Hotel

Fort Cochin, Cochin & the Backwaters, India
Book from GBP Book from £113 per night

Old Harbour Hotel

Fort Cochin, Cochin & the Backwaters, India

Stylish art-centric heritage hotel with superb service in the heart of Kerala’s colonial jewel, Cochin

Stylish art-centric heritage hotel with superb service in the heart of Kerala’s colonial jewel, Cochin

In a country as hectic as India, laidback Cochin, wedged between swathes of jungle on the most south-westerly edge of India, is a rare oasis of tranquility. Once a thriving trading post, the sleepy old town of Fort Cochin is a colonial gem, its white-washed porticoed buildings reflecting eras of both Dutch and Portuguese rule.

Having previously been the premises of an English tea-broking firm, Old Harbour Hotel is in a prime location within a few steps of the town's famous Chinese fishing nets, and a hop away from the Ernakulum ferry and the spice market. Owner and art-lover Edgar Pinto enlisted the help of Swiss/German architect Karl Damschen to deliver the heritage hotel concept with a fresh modern stroke, where spacious rooms and suites look out over the pretty internal courtyard or the tropical garden's lily pond.


  • Chic, serene and very well-maintained, with beautifully restored Dutch architecture, cream walls, lots of open space and interesting art
  • In the evening, the restaurant terrace is filled with the soothing sounds of traditional sitar players and the gentle croaks of frogs from the lily pond
  • Upbeat and friendly staff; the approach is wonderfully informal, a simple teak desk serves as the main reception
  • An immaculate raised infinity pool, with sun loungers dotted around the fragrant grounds - a safe haven for families


  • Pesky crows are always ready to swoop for morsels from your table so avoid sitting beneath the branches of the towering mango tree
  • Some may find the beds a little hard
  • From the airport, it’s about a 90-minute madly frenzied drive to the hotel (though once you arrive a very different world awaits)

Best time to go

November to March is the peak times for visitors: it's dry, not too humid and not overbearingly hot (at least until January). Outside these times room rates can fall dramatically, but you’ll have the monsoon to contend with, which brings wind and rain. October and April could offer the best of both worlds, if you’re lucky.

Our top tips

Come with a half empty suitcase - Cochin and the surrounding area is shopping paradise, particularly good for antiques, cotton textiles, sari fabrics, spices and Ayurvedic medicines.

Great for...

City Style
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 13 rooms
  • Restaurant (open daily)
  • Over 3s preferred
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • Beach Nearby
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Car not necessary
  • Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • WiFi
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Yoga


Stylish and arty touches have been carefully added to each room, whilst hardwood floors and whirling Casablanca fans (coupled with air-conditioning), feel in sync with the building’s colonial credentials. Fabrics are light, tactile and all natural cotton; soft lighting ups the romance factor. Edgar sourced all sculptures and vases locally - there are even a turn-of-the-century working telephones.

Sprawling Suites with four-poster beds are particularly luxurious; the Princess Suite has a private balcony (and is the only room with a bathtub) and we loved the Bastion Suite’s romantic swing chair for two. Each Garden Cottage has its own entrance onto the lawn; they also offer extra privacy and beguiling open-to-the-sky bathrooms. That said, all bathrooms have real drencher showers (must be some of the best in India) and delicious Ayurvedic products.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • WiFi


Named after the year records first mentioned this building, the elegant 1788 restaurant spills out through triple arches onto an open terrace. Come evening, classical sitar and tabla players serenade diners amid the candlelight and hanging lanterns of the tropical garden.

The menu offers Indian and international dishes, with an emphasis on the freshest of foods; all fruit and veg is organic. The sea is so close, fish is a must. On our most-recent visit, we found the Keralan fish curry to die for, along with a gorgeous fresh masala-grilled squid starter. For dessert we tried the Princess Chocolate pudding: a dissolve-in-the-mouth molten chocolate delight. 1788 also has an alcohol license, so we recommend relaxing with a cooling pre-dinner mint and cucumber cocktail or a bottle of wine from varied list.

At breakfast, served alfresco for most of the year, Western and Keralan choices include fresh local fruit, juice, eggs any way you like them, home-baked bread and spiced tea.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Vegetarian options


  • Soak up the almost Biblical vision of fishermen working the giant Chinese fishing nets in the harbour, sinking and raising them by walking up and down the length all day long
  • Enjoy sundowners in the Chariot Bar, which is licenced to sell beers, wine and spirits
  • Make use of the hotel's simple spa or get a massage at the nearby Ayush Ayurvedic centre
  • Start the day with a revitalising early-morning yoga lesson on the roof, before relaxing by the infinity pool
  • Book a cruise along the backwaters - Kerala’s languid network of interlocking rivers, lakes and canals
  • Go shopping at the spice market, ginger and clove factory or the weekly antiques market (where Edgar found most of Old Harbour’s treasures)
  • Hire a vintage Royal Enfield motorbike for the day, head for the beach, and experience the madness of Indian traffic at close quarters

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Sailing
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Well being
  • Yoga


All ages are welcome, but in truth it's best suited to older children (there are no baby cots or high chairs).

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

The Suites can hold an extra bed on request.

Extra Beds Available


Babysitting is available by arrangement.

Kid Friendly:


Old Harbour Hotel is in the centre of Fort Cochin (Kochi), in Kerala, southern India.

By Air:
The nearest airport is Cochin (45km), served by regular domestic flights from Mumbai (Bombay) and Delhi. Kerala's other international airport, Trivandrum (200km), is the more common entry point. The hotel can arrange airport transfers (1 hour from Cochin / 4 hours from Trivandrum).

By Train:
If you're in India already or travelling from Trivandrum, you can catch a train to Ernakulam (14km) or Fort Cochin and then take an easy taxi ride to the hotel.

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

More on getting to Kerala and getting around


  • Cochin (Kochi) International 45.0 km COK
  • Trivandrum Thiruvananthapuram 200.0 km TRV


  • Beach 0.5 km
  • Shops 0.5 km
  • Restaurant 0.2 km

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Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests


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