“Eclectic Assagao home and guesthouse of flamboyant Indian stylist Jivi Sethi”
Two of the guest bedrooms open off the entrance courtyard as part of the cool, shady Old House. The other pair are in the bright white new block on the level above, next to Jivi’s own funky, modernist pad. The red, black and turquoise swimming pool is something else again. With a bold, lingam feature fountain at one end and theatrical backdrop at the other, 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 5 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.
- The theatricality, and the cornucopia of collected treasures and family heirlooms
- Jivi himself - ebullient, fascinating company and clearly possessing a big, warm heart
- The dancing light created by the little garden-hung mirror plates and disco balls
- 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
- A lack of direct sunlight in the Old House rooms until late afternoon can make them a little gloomy
- The need for reliable lights along the rough laterite steps up to the higher level after dark
- Lots of dry leaves fall from the surrounding jungle canopy, which can make the garden look a little unkempt
- Lots of power-cuts, particularly on Sundays
- Plastic-weave bins full of little holes, so not good for emptying ashtrays!
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Homestay B&B
- Breakfast (+ other meals on request)
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Outdoor Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Communal TV
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.
- Mosquito net
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.
- Dinner by arrangement
- Lunch by arrangement
- Restaurants nearby
- Room service
- 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:
- Cooking classes
- Farm tour
- Museums / galleries
- Plantlife / flora
- Private guided tours
- Shopping / markets
- Well being
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)
Family friendly accommodation:
The additional single bed in the dressing room off the Old House second bedroom is great for a small person.
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