Sunbeam

Assagao, Anjuna & North Goa, India Book from Book from £83 per night

Eclectic Assagao home and guesthouse of flamboyant Indian stylist Jivi Sethi
Sunbeam is a joyous expression of its owner Jivi’s larger-than-life personality. Hidden amongst trees behind wafting silk pennants, this century-old family house in one of North Goa's prettiest villages has been uniquely restyled. A silver-skeleton chair, myriad mirrors and atmospheric candles all sit surreally, yet peacefully, amongst the jungly stepped gardens and richly carved Goan antiques.

There are just 2 guest bedrooms, which are set in the bright white new block across the courtyard, next to Jivi’s own funky, modernist pad. The red, black and turquoise swimming pool is dazzling. With a bold, lingam feature fountain, comfortable seating and lounging areas all around, it could have climbed straight out of a film set. Spotlit at night, it’s a wonderfully exotic place to swim after dark.

It’s most fun to stay here when the master is at home, though the dignified Krishna (Jivi’s right-hand man who has been called ‘the best cook in India’) and 4 other staff will still do a great job of looking after you if he’s not. Design-loving couples and small families will love it.

Highs

  • The theatricality, and the cornucopia of collected treasures and family heirlooms
  • Jivi himself - ebullient, fascinating company and clearly possessing a big, warm heart
  • Being close to Goa's loveliest beaches
  • Krishna’s delicious food and loving touches like fresh flour stencils on the courtyard paving stones, thermos coffee/tea pots with feature cosies, and delicate, beaded glass-covers to keep out bugs

Lows

  • There have been quite a few changes since we visited, and we're yet to see the Black & White Room
  • Lots of dry leaves fall from the surrounding jungle canopy, which can make the garden look a little unkempt
  • Both rooms have a 3-night minimum stay
  • The eccentric décor may not be to everyone's taste

Best time to go

Sunbeam is open all year round, with 5 permanent staff looking after you and the place. High season is 15 December to 15 January, mid-season the months either side from 1 October to 30 April, and low-season is 1 May to 30 September. Over Christmas and New Year, rooms are bookable by the fortnight only. But Jivi believes the (June-September) monsoon season is the best time to visit as it’s so lush and sensual, with spectacular thunderstorms and rainfalls, encouraging you to slow right down and be peacefully at one with nature. You may want to catch Christmas, Carnival and Diwali as these are celebrated with great fervour by all religions and communities.

Our top tips

If your dates are flexible, it’s worth checking when Jivi will be at home and trying to book into Sunbeam then, though you’ll feel his presence all around you and be beautifully looked after even if he’s not.

Great for...

Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Spa
Wedding
  • Homestay B&B
  • 2
  • Breakfast (+ other meals on request)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Yoga
  • Communal TV
Room:

Rooms

Up the paved laterite steps is the white air-con block with Jivi’s own pad and the 2 guest rooms. The large Terrace Room is multi-mirrored and decorated in silver, gold and white, with comfortable upholstered seating to lend a bit of colour, and a high-stepping old four-poster bed. There's no living room as such, but you get a sitting area with a TV and DVD player, plus a terrace lounge that leads to the comfortable living & dining room and the pool and gardens.

Off the living room is the Black & White Room, with a double bed and a small sitting area overlooking a small private garden. We haven't personally viewed it yet, but we hear it's equally funky.

Both rooms have overhead fans, desks, sofas and lockable cupboards. They also feature Jivi’s own blended-by-season bath products (soap, shower gel, body lotion, shampoo and conditioner), and bathrobes.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Fan
  • Mosquito net
  • Phone
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

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 ice cream.

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.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Chat to Jivi, if he’s at home, and hear the stories behind Sunbeam’s collected treasures; let him give you a personal cookery lesson and you'll learn how to conjure with spices; he can introduce you to local arts, crafts and cultural traditions

  • Laze and dream by the long, theatrical swimming pool

  • Read books and watch DVDs from Jivi’s extensive and eclectic library

  • Watch monkeys clambering through the trees

  • Read about Jivi and Sunbeam, and William Dalrymple's article on Goa, in the handy copy of Indian Vogue

  • Book an appointment either with Anil, their Swedish/sports-style masseur, or with Josef, their Shiatu/Ayurvedic masseur, both of whom can offer an impressive range of treatments, in the dedicated electric-candled and mirror-walled massage room

  • Visit the whitewashed St Cajetan’s church close by; bicycles can be arranged

  • Tours to local nature reserves can also be arranged

  • Swim or sunbathe and read on a cafe/restaurant-provided lounger at one of umpteen beaches 10-20 minutes drive away; Candolim and Ashwem beaches are good for surfing and wind surfing

  • Sightsee in Goa’s river-mouth capital Panjim, particularly the wonderful old Portuguese Fontainhas quarter which seems preserved in another age

  • Visit some of the plethora of old forts and other dazzling white churches left behind by the Portuguese

  • Book a bird-watching, crocodile- or dolphin-spotting cruise

  • Go Cashew-Feni tasting and tour the Spice Farm

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Farm tour
  • Museums / galleries
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Well being
  • Wildlife
  • Windsurfing

Kids

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.

Best for:

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

Family friendly accommodation:

The Black & White Room can take an extra bed.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests

8/10
Room
8/10
Food
8/10
Service
10/10
Value
9/10
Overall

Beautiful colonial house with well appointed a/c and non-a/c rooms, all self-contained and independent. Amazing location in a very green and established and quaint village close to the beach (Anjuna and Vagator) and other happening parts of north Goa. Very good restaurants nearby. Above all, it is Jivi's hospitality, warmth, wealth of local knowledge and generosity that make this a very very special place.

9/10,

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Rates for Sunbeam