The Jalakara

Havelock Island, Andaman Islands, India Book from

Intimate boho-chic hideaway with stylish suites and a villa, steeped in a lush jungle landscape
Havelock may not be the easiest place in the world to get to, but boy, it's worth the effort. A coral-ringed island with some of the most spectacular beaches on earth and an abundance of nature's other pleasures awaits: wandering elephants, mangrove creeks teeming with birdlife and crystal-clear seas filled with a dazzling array of aquatic life. As of January 2016, there’s another reason to go: this stunning retreat carved into the virgin rainforest with 6 stylish suites, a private villa and a 16m ozone infinity pool, the only one on the island.

It was an overgrown banana plantation until British chef and entrepreneur Mark Hill enlisted a crack team of architects, artisan builders and crafters to clear the land and blend traditional Indian materials and techniques with fluid lines, modern minimalism and imagination. The result is a sublime hideaway with a laid-back vibe and luxe finishes. Rooms are arranged over staggered levels, leading down to an expansive decked platform and the glittering infinity pool. There’s an open-air massage suite, yoga classes, even a badminton lawn. Book island hopping excursions, private beachside picnics and jungle foraging walks then return here for a sundowner and some of the best views on the island.

Highs

  • The back-to-nature vibe with the spoiling benefits of a top hotel
  • Cool and clean suites with dreamy bathrooms and bags of indoor and outside space
  • Delicious food, with a seafood focus and tropical breakfasts
  • The fun, sociable open-air bar and lounge; there’s even a film projector for movies under the stars
  • A perfect place to relax and rejuvenate - surrounded by virgin rainforest and no phones or TVs to distract you

Lows

  • We were the very first guests so we didn’t see some of the finishing touches, but we’re assured it’s firing on all cylinders now
  • The alcohol licence is pending. At the moment guests can BYO and there’s a wine shop nearby
  • The restaurant is closed on Wednesday evenings
  • No WiFi, but that's half the point
  • It's a remote island so getting here is an adventure, and things can be unreliable when you arrive - expect occasional power cuts or a shortage of produce from the mainland

Best time to go

December to March is the best season - dry and warm during the day and cool in the evenings. April and May are sunny but humid. June to September sees long and heavy rains with short and unpredictable periods of sunshine, but prices are cheaper. October and November can bring short rains, but generally have a good chance of uninterrupted sunshine.

Diving is best between November and April. Game fishing is best from mid-January to mid-March.

Our top tips

  • To avoid staying a night in Port Blair, arrive before 1pm so you can catch a ferry to Havelock the same day; and likewise on the way back, book a flight from Port Blair after 1pm (check these times with Jalakara, when booking your room).
  • Radhanagar (aka Number 7) is the island's most stunning beach (the famous elephant bathes here every morning). Head to the far left or far right for complete seclusion.
  • For a slice of authentic island life, head to Havelock's market, grab a streetside table and spend an hour people-watching.
  • Great for...

    Beach
    Family
    Foodie
    Honeymoon
    Spa
    • = Recommended
    • = Best in region
    • = World favourite
    • Boutique Hotel
    • 7
    • Restaurant and bar, closed Wednesday evenings
    • All ages welcome
    • Closed: 1 Jun 2016 - 30 Sep 2016
    • Outdoor Pool
    • Spa Treatments
    • WiFi
    • Pet Friendly
    • Disabled Access
    • Beach Nearby
    • Off-street Parking
    • Restaurants Nearby
    • Air Conditioning
    • Guest Lounge
    • Terrace
    • Garden
    • Gym
    • Bicycles Available
    • Guest kitchen
    • Board games
    • Badminton
    Room:

    Rooms

    Rooms share a feeling of light, tranquility and space, with traditional South Indian polished plaster and clean, modernist lines softened by woven bamboo and wood furnishings. Beautiful block-printed fabrics add a pop of colour.

    The Sunset Suites have double-height roofs clad with handmade clay tiles from Tamil Nadu that keep the rooms wonderfully cool and breezy. The Garden Suite has a private garden with open-air shower and alfresco tub, and a little pavillion with daybeds for extra guests. The romantic Skyroom is a stunning teak pavilion perched on top of the main villa with glass panelled walls. The ground-floor Tower Garden room has a private garden with a lily pond and hammocks whilst the first-floor Tower Room has a beautiful roof terrace with 360 degree panoramic views over the sea.

    Honeymooners will love the loft-like Jalakara Villa, which has its own kitchen and living room. There’s a private yoga deck with a giant hammock and an Ayurvedic copper plunge pool, and a film projector so you can have private screenings under the stars.

    Features include:

    • Air conditioning
    • Bathrobes
    • Coffee maker
    • Coffee tea making
    • Extra beds
    • Fan
    • Ipod dock
    • Minibar/fridge
    • Mosquito net
    • Pool towels
    • Terrace
    • Toiletries

    Eating

    As you'd expect from a chef owner, the food at Jalakara is delicious. Breakfast includes house-baked bread, eggs any way, banana pancakes, tropical fruit salads and delicious smoothies.

    Lunch is an informal affair served around the pool: Thalis, crisp seasonal salads, wraps, and sharing plates of Andaman prawns, fish goujons and fried momos. Dinner showcases locally caught seafood: poached lobster, crab, langoustine and fish fillets steamed in banana leaves.

    There’s also a communal kitchen so you can make yourself a coffee or whip up snacks. If you want to dine out, friendly manager Shruti will tell you the best places to go (she's lived here for years and knows the island inside out). Note Jalakara's restaurant is closed on Wednesday evenings.

    Features include:

    • Bar
    • Children meals
    • Coffee maker
    • Coffee tea making
    • Minibar/fridge
    • Restaurant
    • Restaurants nearby
    • Room service
    Eating:
    Activity:

    Activities

  • Hire mopeds and snorkelling gear and explore the island's white-sand beaches and turquoise waters. Zip to one coast for sunrise then wind your way over to the other side for sunset
  • Bask in the sun and enjoy magnificent views from the gorgeous pool deck, dipping into the chlorine-free pool to cool off
  • Kayak around the mangrove creeks. We went at night and the starry skies and phosphorescence blew our minds
  • Book the 'beach butler' service: hammocks, loungers, music and a cooler with drinks and snacks can be set up on a nearby uninhabited island
  • Go deep-sea fishing then BBQ your tuna and red snapper back at Jalakara
  • Boat trips to explore the surrounding ocean are a must - the scuba diving and snorkelling is fantastic, with colourful coral and heaps of aquatic life
  • If you're feeling lazy, just stay put. There's a beautiful wellness pavilion run by an expert massage therapist (Deep Tissue, Thai Yoga & Aromatherapy), a yoga teacher, self-guided nature trails and some of world’s rarest bird species to spot

    Activities on site or nearby include:

    • Birdwatching
    • Boat trips
    • Cycling
    • Fishing
    • Kayaking
    • Plantlife / flora
    • Scuba diving
    • Shopping / markets
    • Snorkelling
    • Star gazing
    • Swimming
    • Wildlife
    • Yoga
  • Kids

    Families are welcome but Jalakara has more of a couples' vibe and there are no specific kids facilities. Teens and adventurous older kids will enjoy the wildlife and watersports.

    Best for:

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

    Family friendly accommodation:

    Sunset South has a mezzanine that can be made up with 2 additional single beds. Sunset North adjoins Sunset South with private garden access between the 2 rooms. Skyroom has 1 daybed. Jalakara Villa, Sunset South, Sunset North & Garden can all easily fit a baby cot.

    Baby equipment:

    High chairs in the restaurant

    Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

    Kid Friendly:

    Our guests' ratings...

    10/
    Rooms
    10/
    Food
    10/
    Service
    10/
    Value
    10/
    Overall

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