“Cross the wooden bridge into this aromatic mountain garden with stylish cottages, pool and Ayurvedic centre, and leave the world behind”
Of the 18 guest suites dotted around the gardens, 10 are standalone cottages and 8 are rooms arranged in units of 2 or 4. All have thatched elephant-grass roofs, ensuite bathrooms and private verandas (with divans and cushions for the cottages). In some cottages the double beds can convert to twins, so state your preference when booking.
The 8 rooms are simple but tastefully decorated, with colourful lamps and cushions, white walls, terracotta-tiled floors and wood panelling dividing the bedroom from a little corridor with a desk.
The cottages have flower and bamboo arrangements, individual colour schemes and mellow, atmospheric lighting throughout. Eight of them are roomier Elegant Cottages, complete with day beds on their verandas and coloured lights to guide you home. There are also 2 extra-secluded and petal-strewn Honeymoon Cottages, one at the bottom of the garden by the lily pond, the other hidden behind the swimming pool with a ladder to its loft bedroom.
Complimentary fruit bowls, water bottles, Ayurvedic bath products, bathrobes and slippers are all provided, with hairdryers available on request. None of the rooms or cottages are air-conditioned, but the mountain climate means nights stay cool throughout the year and heaters and extra blankets are provided.
Meals are served as a buffet when more than 10 rooms are filled. Otherwise, they can be eaten in the semi open-air restaurant, at one of the stone tables in the garden, by the swimming pool or on your own veranda.
Breakfast can be fresh fruit, a continental spread of eggs, toast and jam or Indian dosas, uppumas, bhajis and parathas, washed down with locally-grown tea and coffee.
Lunch and dinner feature a tasty and light selection of fresh salads, vegetables, meat and fish marinades, grills and bakes. This includes a comprehensive range of local delicacies and North Indian favourites such as Meen Pollichathu (spicy fish wrapped in a banana leaf) and lots of chunky fish, chicken, mutton and paneer curries. During high season, Tandoori dishes using a range of fish, chicken and vegetables are also available. Pasta is another specialty thanks to Shalimar’s Italian co-creator, and our Arrabbiata accompanied by triangles of garlic toast was delicious, as was our super-spicy vegetable soup, fish curry and cardamom soufflé.
With the evenings being so cool – and very wet in the monsoon season – the restaurant is set behind glass walls around the main foyer, giving an intimate feel, with views over the whole property. Pre-dinner drinks are often taken around the fireplace in the lobby.
There are no particular kids facilities here, but the setting is great and it's well located for Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary and the nearby lake. Over 3s only.
Those under 6 stay for free and those between the ages of 6 and 10 are charged half price when no extra bed is required and they’re sharing a room with their parents.
Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
Elegant Cottages and Elegant Rooms are your best bet: add an extra bed to either. If you have 2 children, you will need to book an extra room, and since the cottages are spaced throughout the resort, it might be best if you're bringing older children. All cottages and rooms have showers, not baths.
Babysitting is available by arrangement
There's a buffet-style set up with largely Indian food, but with pasta, soup and other non-Indian snacks too, so less adventurous kids are catered for
Mosquitoes can be a pest