“Eclectic Assagao home and guesthouse of flamboyant Indian stylist Jivi Sethi”
Bedrooms 1 and 2 are on the ground floor in the Old House off the courtyard, with tiny skylights which keep them cool, but leave them a little short of sunlight. Bedroom 1 faces the entrance garden and (quiet) road and has a full-length private terrace and restrained, gentleman’s club style. Tucked alongside, Bedroom 2 has a bolder palette with kitsch features like the baby-girl-dress lampshades and plastic bathroom flowers; it also has a little dressing room with single bed, cupboard and safe.
Both have rafter ceilings and ensuite ochre-and-wood shower bathrooms featuring their original shell-and-stained-glass windows and screens. They share the use of a royal red, antique-and-mirror-filled sitting/dining room, plus a veranda with TV and DVD player. There's no air-con in this house, just fans. If you're coming in a group of 3-5, it makes sense to book these 2 rooms together, and Jivi prefers this, but if bedroom 3 is booked then they can be let individually to couples.
Across the dancing-light courtyard and up rough-hewn laterite steps is the white air-con block with Jivi’s own pad and the multi-mirrored, silver-and-white Bedroom 3. The spinal-column chair’s in here and the bed is a high-stepping old four-poster. There's no living room as such, but you get a sitting area with TV with DVD player, plus a terrace which gives access to the pool and gardens. This is also where Room 4 is, though we haven't personally viewed it yet.
All rooms have mosquito nets, overhead fans, desks, sofas, lockable cupboards (or safe in the triple room) and multiple clay turtle ashtrays (as Jivi, a non-smoker himself, believes in ‘live and let live’). They also feature Jivi’s own blended-by-season bath products (soap, shower gel, body lotion, shampoo and conditioner), and bathrobes.
Nepalese Krishna, Jivi’s loyal ‘brother’ for over 10 years, has been called the best cook in India and many a society hostess has tried to poach him. He can cook traditional Indian, any other national cuisine, or a fusion. Breakfasts are included; other meals are by arrangement.
Our dinner was a wonderful taste-tour of cheese soufflé, beetroot borsch, 3-rice salad with mustard prawns, cream brulée and orange peel chocolates. Our lunch was another: tom yung goong soup, tamarind white pomfret, chicken curry, and homemade apple and cinnamon icecream.
Your complimentary breakfast can either be a delicious and spicy Indian one, or the continental – though be warned: Jivi hasn’t yet taught Krishna how to cook eggs as he doesn’t eat them himself, so our poached ones were a topsy-turvy hard yolk and soft white.
You can eat at the courtyard dining table, bistro-style up on the terrace, or anywhere else you’d like. Daytime teas and coffees are served in thermos pots with Krishna’s homemade ginger or onion biscuits. Just order them via the intercom provided in the rooms.
If you fancy a wander, Villa Blanche, a colourful, hippy-style café run by a German-Swiss couple, is just a pretty 20-minute woodland walk away. Open every day, they serve things like bagels and bolognese, quiches and yummy cakes.
Lots of children have already stayed at Sunbeam and left adorably enthusiastic comments in the visitors' book, and the wild garden, old theatrical backdrops and big, bold swimming pool all make brilliant locations for imaginative games. Given the permanently on-hand staff, babysitting and childminding is also no problem if you fancy an adults-only night out.
Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
The additional single bed in the dressing room off the Old House second bedroom is great for a small person.