“A serene and romantic waterfront retreat on the western shore of Lake Vembanad”
Remember that Diana Vreeland quote ‘Pink is the navy blue of India’? All that bright colour can be overwhelming, but boy, do they know how to use it. Splashes of green, turquoise and yellow somehow manage to look both vibrant and harmonious together (the backdrop of pure white sheets and whitewashed walls helps) - even restorative and peaceful - whilst the red and crimson palette in some of the rooms adds a more sensual note.
There are 14 bedrooms and suites in which beds are dressed in fine linen topped by bright cushions and double banks of pillows, and where eclectic modern art mixes well with antique wood carvings (which in some rooms are the focus of your bed wall). Each room has air-conditioning, a flatscreen TV, a fridge loaded with cold drinks, a kettle and a really snazzy bathroom where you’ll find a stack of bathroom goodies: Rama shampoo, conditioner, moisturiser and body cleanser, and Holy Lama soap. There’s bottled water by the bed, a vase of cut flowers on your writing desk and a folder listing the spa treatments on offer along with recommended local visits. Lighting is used to excellent effect though it did take us a while to master the controls.
All rooms come with a terrace or veranda with views out to the lake; the suites and 2 of the Deluxe Rooms also have a bathtub, a couple of these being sunken and mosaic-tiled. The palatial first-floor Vembanad Suite is as big as the lobby. It has a large living area and a romantic swing seat on its private terrace. The 5 Garden Suites are a little smaller, though just as plush, with glass-fronted living areas and cavernous bathrooms where there’s room aplenty for his-and-hers sinks and an Ayurvedic massage table to be set up for private in-room treatments.
Your day gets off to a special start at breakfast which, weather permitting, is taken at one of the lakeside tables: early mornings are magical here as the water-born bird and boating activity gets underway. An order is first taken for the freshly squeezed juice and tropical fruit platter of your choice. Next comes cereal and toast, after which you choose between eggs or, much more fun, the dosa of your choice. There’s excellent filter coffee from Mysore and organic, loose-leaf tea.
The hotel has a selection of traditional Keralan dishes, these vary according to what’s to be had at local markets: choices might include an excellent fish, or coconut and tomato Thakkali curry, or maybe sautéed marsala mussels in a tomato sauce. The tastiest dish we tried was Pollichathu fish which was steamed in a banana leaf with coconut and a delicate combination of spices. There’s a second menu, too, which includes some classic northern Indian dishes. Even though the hotel’s cuisine can’t be described as gourmet it’s wholesome and very local in flavour.
There’s a simple lunch menu and a Keralan-style thali can always be prepared. Should you fancy something that’s not listed just talk to the staff and they’ll do their best to magic up the meal of your choice. Snacks, including sandwiches, paneer pakoras and cashew nuts are also on offer.
Meals are normally served in the sheltered courtyard at the back of the house where we found the ambience to be a tad claustrophobic, with little space between tables and no view as such. It’s much nicer, when weather and mozzie activity permits, to dine in the covered colonnade overlooking the pool, out in the garden, at a lake-facing table along the waterfront or on your private balcony.
Children are welcome though the atmosphere here is so chilled that a gaggle of noisy kids may not go down too well with other guests. Baby cots and extra beds can be provided and the hotel has crayons and board games to keep young 'uns amused.
Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
The Vembanad Suite is ideal for families as it has a double bed, a day bed, and can fit either an additional rollaway bed or baby cot.