Raheem Residency

Alleppey, Cochin & the Backwaters, India Book from IRs5,600

A super-stylish heritage hotel with swimming pool, Ayurvedic spa and rooftop dining in Alleppey, the capital of the Kerala backwaters
This is a great little find; a throw-back to the days of the Raj which mixes style and substance to great effect. Originally built by an Englishman in 1868 and home to the well-to-do Raheem family for 100 years (during which time Nehru and Gandhi visited), it has been lovingly restored by Irish ex-journalist Bibi and her Indian business partner Flemin. The result is a stunning fusion of traditional Indian elegance and modern comforts. Coloured glass fanlights flood the main house with rainbow light, ceilings are palatially high and the rooms are shuttered, with antique wooden furniture and ornately carved objets d’art.

The bougainvillea-draped whitewashed walls enclose a tranquil, luxurious space. The 10 rooms are arranged around 2 courtyards (one with a turquoise, cashew-shaped swimming pool) and a lush garden. The rooftop restaurant is reached by a spiral staircase and looks out across the sea. You can indulge in a little morning yoga or Ayurveda, swing in a hammock, borrow a bicycle to explore, or book fittings with the resident tailor. If you fancy a sunset stroll or a camel ride along the beach, just cross the road and you’ll find the palm-fringed sands of the Malabar Coast - almost deserted during the week, and buzzing with local life at weekends.

Highs

  • The stunningly restored heritage building has stylish, high-ceilinged rooms and is furnished with wonderful Keralan antiques
  • The owners and staff are friendly, the attention to detail is fantastic and everywhere is spotlessly clean
  • The beautiful freshwater swimming pool sits in a suntrap courtyard, surrounded by cushioned loungers
  • The open-sided rooftop restaurant faces out over the Arabian sea
  • You’ll find quirky heritage touches; just ring the little handbell for pre-dinner aperitifs

Lows

  • Construction work is currently ongoing directly outside the hotel. Noise disruption will affect customers up until the end of December 2015.
  • Alleppey doesn’t have much nightlife, though there are sometimes free concerts on the beach
  • The mosquitos can be over-friendly, but coils and plug-in repellents are provided
  • Previous reports suggested the beach across the road can be untidy, but we're assured this is no longer the case thanks to a team of local women who clean it every morning

Best time to go

The best weather lasts from the end of November to March, when days are dry, clear and not too hot. April and May get rapidly hotter and May through to October brings 2 monsoon seasons to this section of the coast, the first in June and July followed by the milder northeast monsoon in October. There is usually some respite from the rains in August and September.

Our top tips

Do your swimming and sunbathing in the hotel’s own gorgeous and very private pool. If you head to Alleppey’s main beach over the road while wearing a skimpy costume, be advised that locals will stare.

Great for...

Beach
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 10
  • Restaurant (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
  • Bicycles Available
Room:

Rooms

The rooms are simple and stylish, with warm terracotta-tiled floors, intricately-carved beds and a rich collection of old, wooden Kerala furniture. Protected from the glare by wooden shutters, their uncluttered spaces, high ceilings and sparkling white walls create a cool and elegant feel. Crisp white linen is offset by crushed velvet and raw silk bed throws and multi-coloured glass lights lend a rainbow effect. All rooms have air conditioning and all but one have both baths and showers (an uncommon luxury in India).

The 3 Superior Deluxe Rooms have the most space. The largest of these, Begum’s Nook is tucked into its own courtyard and has a walk-in wardrobe and TV. Behind this are 3 or the 7 Deluxe Rooms in what was once the Residency’s marriage hall, all with private balconies. The other Deluxe Rooms open off the light-bathed hall, with the brightest being Beta and Bhatija (these are also the most popular rooms, so book well in advance if you want to request them).

One Superior Room is a twin with disabled facilities and a bathroom (the only one with shower only) which is open to the heavens.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Internet access
  • Internet access
  • Phone
  • Terrace

Eating

Climb the wrought-iron spiral staircase up to Chakara (meaning ‘plentiful catch of fish’), the open-sided rooftop restaurant, and you’ll find plushly-cushioned wicker armchairs, glowing red walls and romantic sea views. You can also eat alfresco at a little table in the courtyard or by the pool if you prefer.

The fixed menu is rotated every night of the week to provide variety, though you can order other dishes too. Fish comes fresh from the ocean and you can tuck into crab, tuna and masala prawns, plus lobster when it’s in season. We particularly enjoyed the signature Alleppey Fish Curry and the old Anglo-Indian favourite ‘Chicken Country Captain’, as well as the south Indian onion chutney.

Breakfast is similarly tasty: homemade preserves come courtesy of a local lady and we recommend trying her banana and pineapple jams.

If you fancy eating out, the adjacent restaurant Harbour has the same ownership as the Residency and offers an à la carte menu and a ‘beer parlour’. There are also restaurants at the Hotel Royal Park and Alleppey Prince, which are favoured by well-heeled locals.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Get creative: scribes get special rates out of season (although there’s a 10-day minimum stay), which include dinner and endless cups of masala tea
  • If you’re short of inspiration, lounge by the beautiful pool and browse through the well-stocked library
  • Wake up with an hour-long 8.30am yoga class in the front courtyard
  • Indulge in Ayurvedic treatments from the in-house spa: try Shirodhara (medicated milk is poured on the forehead to soothe mental tension and improve memory) or Elakizhi (warm herbal boluses designed to cure arthritis and backache)
  • Take a classic backwater boat trip on a snakeboat or spend the night on a houseboat (there’s a launch point nearby)
  • Stroll along Alleppey’s sandy beach and watch the locals at play
  • Borrow one of the hotel’s 2 bicycles and pedal to the Jain and Serpent temples
  • Take a rickshaw to the paddy fields in Kerala's ‘rice bowl’, Kuttanad (12km away)
  • Shop for silks, spices, cotton and gold in the nearby market
  • Take a 1-hour taxi ride to Cochin to see its famous Chinese fishing nets, spice farms and Kumarakom bird sanctuary

    Activities on site or nearby include:

    • Ayurvedic treatments
    • Boat trips
    • Cycling
    • Historical sites
    • Mountain biking
    • Shopping / markets
    • Swimming
    • Traditional cultures
    • Yoga
  • Kids

    Children of all ages are welcome. The two rooms in a separate courtyard are generally allocated to families with young kids. Extra beds are available on request but you will need to bring your own travel cot. Note that no babysitting or childminding service is available.

    Best for:

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

    Family friendly accommodation:

    Extra Beds Available

    Kid Friendly:

    Our guests' ratings...

    8/
    Rooms
    8/
    Food
    8/
    Service
    7/
    Value
    8/
    Overall

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