“Perched on a hilltop in central Tamil Nadu, surrounded by forest, this peaceful retreat is a nature lover’s paradise”
Rajakkad’s 7 simple bedrooms fan off the main courtyard. While the largest 2 (Deluxes) are slightly more expensive, even the smallest room felt open and airy to us, so don't feel you need to upgrade.
Bright white ceilings and walls contrast with ebony tadelakt floors, and both are set off by bold splashes of bright colour - a candy-cane lampshade here, a funky floral throw there. In our Standard room, a red and blue Rietveld chair anchored one corner. These colourful touches lend the rooms a fanciful twist, as does the unusual lighting. We loved the star-shaped paper lanterns hanging in the corners, as well as the clever pin-dot LED lighting that lined the bathrooms, giving them a soft, Christmas-tree glow.
Unusual art graces the bedroom walls. We had a Cecil Beaton painting in our bedroom as well as 2 kitschy collages of Indian gods, picked up in an antiques store in New Delhi. Handsome carpets come from Samarkand. All together, it’s an eclectic look, but one that works.
Most importantly, mattresses are thick, pillows plush, and linens finely woven, ensuring each guest a restful night’s sleep. Ensuite shower bathrooms are nice and there are cotton bathrobes, though no toiletries. In the morning, slide open your exterior wall and step straight out into Rajakkad’s magnificent garden, a magical way to start your day.
All meals are included in the room rate. Rajakkad serves mainly South Indian food, as well as some Mediterranean-inspired dishes, and ingredients are sourced locally when possible - preferably from its own farm and garden. (The hotel’s goal is to eventually source 80% of its ingredients from its estate.) Fixed-menu evening meals are served at a communal table, but ask for a private table if you prefer. We particularly enjoyed our silky pumpkin soup and the green bean salad with coconut shavings and black mustard seeds that followed. Fresh curry leaves, plucked right outside the kitchen door, adorned many of the delectable offerings. Note that meals include fish and meat, but can be adapted to vegetarian on request.
Breakfast was a sheer delight. Pick a favourite spot - under the shade of a towering palm tree or out on the lawn, in the sunshine - then sit back as plate upon plate of South Indian specialities (idlis and dosas with spicy sambar and chutneys) or eggs, cooked to perfection, stream from the kitchen. Oranges and sweet limes were picked from the estate’s trees, then fresh-pressed for us. Coffee came from beans at the neighbouring plantation. The delicious yoghurt, as well as jams and pickles, were all made on site.
Lunch was light: a fresh tomato salad, straight from the garden, partnered with a buttery quiche. We were offered homemade cakes - lemon sponge and fresh walnut - as dessert. And after our long afternoon hike, we found Rajakkad’s signature snack - generous bowls of knotted, fried onions, spiced with fresh green chilies - irresistible.
An oasis of quiet elegance in the Tamil Nadu hinterland, Rajakkad may not seem the most kid-friendly place at first glance; the drive is steep and winding (not fun for tummies prone to car sickness) and once you get there, what are little ones to do? Lots, it turns out. Our daughters petted new-born calves and hugged wriggling baby goats tight to their chests. They plucked peppercorns straight from the vine and tropical fruits from the trees. They chased giant squirrels and marvelled at monkeys. They even harvested coffee, learning how it is made into the dark brew their parents are so addicted to. They hiked trails and listened for birdsong. And in the evenings, their energy finally spent from hours and hours in the great outdoors, they snuggled up on couches with Uno and Scrabble, kindly provided by the hotel.
Teens (over 12)
Standard rooms can fit 1 mattress on the floor; Deluxe rooms can fit 2 mattresses on the floor.
While dinner was served on the late side, the chef cooked up separate, kid-friendly food for his younger guests. It was yummy and healthy to boot: roast chicken with mashed potatoes flecked with veggies, and pasta with garden-fresh tomato sauce.
With its uneven surfaces, steps and unfenced pools of water, Rajakkad is not very toddler-friendly.