“Authentic plantation homestay in the unspoilt hills of northern Kerala, set on a 400-acre coffee and vanilla estate”
The plantation bungalows hold comfortable Garden Suites accessed from a shared terrace, a Suite with its own garden and lounge, and an enormous Deluxe Room originally built for the owners of the plantation, who come up regularly from Bangalore. There are also 2 'tree suites' and a cottage which we are yet to view.
The rooms and suite have gleaming original woodwork, tiled floors, comfortable beds and spacious modern bathrooms. It's all kept very spic and span: the snow-white towels are changed daily, sheets are changed every other day and the terrace and paths are swept every morning and afternoon.
The 'tree suites' make a novel and charming alternative to ground-dwelling. The smaller of the 2, Tree House (jokingly called ‘tranquilitree’), was created at 35ft in the branches of 3 trees and is approached by an easy inclined gangway. It has an insect-screened bedroom, a proper bathroom with a six-point shower and a large terrace with lovely views. The larger Tree Villa (or ‘serenetree’) is vast and stands on stilts among the leaves. Ideal for families with older children or groups of friends, it has 1 double and 2 daybeds, 2 bathrooms and a large terrace overlooking the plantation.
A few minutes’ walk from the main house is 2-bedroom Catimor Cottage, named after a variety of coffee bean; looks great for 2 couples or a family due to its large living area, veranda and private garden make it spacious enough for groups or a family.
When staying on a full-board basis you can often tire of the same repertoire of Keralan specialities, but Jini makes each meal original, plentiful and delicious. Everything is homemade, right down to the pickles, and you dine at one big table on the terrace, beautifully laid with crisp linen and hibiscus or jasmine flowers.
A tasty mug of soup heralds the onset of dinner - you might get Jini's deliciously tender coconut, chicken and corn broth, artily served in a green coconut shell. The usually encompasses spicy curries with a modern twist, and mouth-watering puddings such as chocolate torte and fresh mango soufflé, followed by a steaming cup of coffee using the plantation's own beans.
Breakfast is a feast of tropical fruits, fresh juices, local vegetarian dishes, Western-style eggs, home-baked breads and jams. Lunch is a vast buffet of salads, plus a variety of hot dishes - perhaps quiche or pasta, a succulent rogan josh, tasty vegetable concoctions and rice. There's no chance of going hungry here - if you go for an afternoon hike to the mountain viewpoint, tea (accompanied by little onion pakoras and blueberry tartlets) will be served at the top.
Because it's an all-in deal and the food and house-party ambience are so inviting, there's zero incentive to find a restaurant elsewhere. Stay put!
Given the 'tranquil' nature of the place this may not be the best choice for those with young children, but all ages are welcome and extra beds are available.
Teens (over 12)
Catimor Cottage has 2 double bedrooms, and space for 3 extra beds. The Tree House or Tree Villa are not suitable for children under 12 years old, due to their height from the ground.