“Find your own rhythm at this boutique yoga hotel beside a palm-fringed Om-shaped beach near the Goa-Karnataka border”
The 24 Villas are set around a central swimming pool surrounded by coconut groves and paddy fields. When you get here, you’ll find bougainvillea and hibiscus petals scattered on your bed, along with cotton yoga clothes and handmade Ayurvedic soaps in the bathroom.
Each villa has a mini lawn at the front, a large bedroom with a kingsize bed, a study, a lounge and a semi-open-air bathroom so you can shower under the stars. Some also have pull-out beds and you can request twin beds if you prefer. From the warm orange tiles on the floor to the local textiles and rattan chairs on terraces, it feels friendly and homely; the villas are spacious and not over-decorated, in order to retain a sense of calm.
There is a deck above the bedroom designed for solo meditation or yoga sessions; it’s also great for sunset views. This is no typical ashram with communal bedrooms and bunk-beds; the glass walls and floor-to-ceiling windows mark it out as a luxury hotel, although the owners wouldn’t want you to think of it this way. With a lack of gadgets (there’s no TV, for instance) you won’t get distracted from the serenity of the environment, but there is low energy lighting, air-conditioning and a sense of privacy within each building. The local wildlife may pay you a visit - we’ve heard reports of geckos in the bathrooms, tree frogs in the wardrobes and monkeys on the roof - but you’ll be glad to hear that a combination of mosquito coils, citronella candles and incense keeps the mosquitoes at bay.
The food at SwaSwara is fantastic: local, fresh and delicious. Following yogic principles as well as the local culture - you won’t be eating red meat here - the focus is on locally-sourced vegetables (many from the gardens) and fresh seafood. Evening meals are served with herbal teas, fruit juice and local wine - no other types of alcohol are allowed or sold here, although the nearby beach bars serve cocktails and beer.
The style of food is predominantly South Indian, with Mediterranean and pan-Asian influences: expect dahl, paneer curry, prawns, cumin potatoes, maybe tuna stuffed in a snake gourd ring with pickled kokum fruit. It’s certainly not a diet camp - portions are huge, and you get yummy desserts too - but with low salt and sugar, and no eggs or red meat, it feels healthy and nutritious.
Breakfast is a traditional southern Indian affair and might include chai, dosa and idli (steamed rice / lentil cakes) with sambal and chutneys, fresh tropical fruit, and a Continental option if you prefer. Lunch is typically a thali, a traditional dish of several vegetable curries plus salad, chapatti and rice, often served on a banana leaf. You eat in the open-air restaurant, outdoors under the trees in a candlelit area or at the beachside restaurant.
Solo travellers won’t feel lonely as there’s a communal dining atmosphere and activities such as early evening aperitif sessions to encourage socialising. Keen chefs can learn how to cook, South Indian-style, in the kitchens beforehand, and gardeners can roam the property in search of spices and fresh vegetables for dinner.
The hotel only accepts children aged 15 and above; with the focus so strongly on yoga, it's not especially child-friendly. But if you wanted to come as a family with older kids who can take care of themselves while you relax and de-stress, it could work; there are plenty of child-friendly activities nearby.
The sea can be rough and there is no lifeguard by the swimming pool; in both instances, children shouldn't swim unattended.