Varikatt Heritage

Trivandrum, Southern Beaches, India Book from

A calm oasis of colonial elegance and charm at the heart of Trivandrum, with cultured hosts and a heritage homestay feel
Built in the 1850s by an English memsahib who followed her heart to India to marry a colonial tea planter, this spacious bungalow brims with old-world charm. The airy rooms have rosewood antiques, high wood-panelled ceilings, display cabinets of family treasures, mounted deer heads, old lamps and sepia photographs. There's a warm welcome from Colonel Roy Kuncheria (ex-Gurkha Rifles) and his wife, whose family have owned the house since the departure of Miss Blanket and her beau. Colonel Roy does a lot of the cooking too, alongside his sons and the chef, serving up a feast of unique recipes. If you ask, he’ll happily teach you how to make them and give you copies to take away.

Around the house runs a wide veranda, looking out onto a walled garden. There's a badminton court shaded by tall trees, many species of orchids, lush lawns and pathways which are lit at night. Step outside the gate and you're in the centre of bustling Trivandrum, with temples, the Zoological Gardens, a Fair Trade craft market and Kanaka Kunnu Palace all on your doorstep.

Highs

  • This is a true heritage home - one of only 3 recognised by the Kerala Tourism Department
  • The careful renovations carried out by Colonel Roy and his wife mean you’ll find mod cons such as glass shower rooms and powerful air conditioning
  • The suites and rooms are spacious, with high ceilings and handmade rosewood furniture
  • You’ll feel very much part of the family as you’re entertained by Colonel Roy’s stories and puzzles over dinner - this much more 'Kerala' than a hotel; ideal for families too
  • It’s at the hub of the city, close to both Trivandrum railway station (3km away) and the airport (7km away)

Lows

  • Don't expect ultra-stylish modern décor - this is simple and stately. There are also no twin rooms
  • As there are only 4 rooms, and lots of communal space, this is perhaps not one for honeymooners or lovers of privacy
  • The street outside is sadly strewn with rubbish and rubble, though Colonel Roy is working to change this
  • Some may be bothered by the noise from the road or the church next door; plus Trivandrum can get very hectic and smoggy
  • There’s no water frontage or pool, though excursions to beaches and the backwaters can be arranged
  • The garden gets rather dry towards the end of the season, before the monsoon

Best time to go

The best weather is from the end of November to March, when it's dry, clear and not too hot. April and May get rapidly hotter before the southwest monsoon in June and July and the milder northeast monsoon in October. There's usually some respite from the rain in August/September. The monsoon season does offer empty beaches, fewer crowds and touts, as well as discounts on air travel, but some tourist attractions close during these months.

Our top tips

Make time to enjoy your charming and gracious host's stories of Gurkha life and colonial history, try to solve his riddles and receive his expert guidance on Indian cookery. Also, if you find a tuk-tuk driver who speaks English try to hang on to them for other trips, as they can be few and far between in Trivandrum.

Great for...

Family
Foodie
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Homestay Guesthouse
  • 4
  • Breakfast (+ other meals on request)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Badminton
  • Board games
Room:

Rooms

The single-storey design of Varikatt Heritage is as 'Keralan' as it gets and includes what used to be a ‘women’s area’ and a granary. So much so, in fact, that it inspired an entire thesis by an Indonesian architectural academic.

The 2 Large Double Rooms (named 'B' and 'C') and the Double Room, like the dining room, are dark and cool, have antique hand-carved rosewood furniture, kingsize beds, and wooden chairs; Large Double C has a dressing room. Ensuite bathrooms are simple, with big glass-walled shower compartments. The Suite also has a dressing room, as well as a living room-cum-study. Antique kerosene lamps swing from the rafters and a deer’s head gazes down from the wall.

All rooms have mod cons such as a mini-fridge (excluding Large Double B), cable TV, WiFi, air conditioning and a phone. The housekeeping is also first-rate and a same-day laundry service is available.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Tv
  • WiFi

Eating

The family dining room used to be the old ‘women’s area’ and sits cloistered from the sunlight at the heart of the house. Delicious home-cooked meals are served round its long rosewood dining table and your hosts make you feel like an honoured house guest. If you want more privacy, however, you can eat at a smaller table in the light-filled hall or outside in the garden.

For breakfast you can choose between a familiar continental option of cereal, eggs, toast and jam together with masala omelettes, or a traditional 9-dish Keralan spread with delicacies such as palappam (rice pancakes) with egg curry, coconut-flavoured vegetable stew and idli (steamed rice cake) with chutneys and dosas (rice and lentil pancakes). All come accompanied by fresh fruit juice and coffee or tea.

Dinner offers the chance to experience Colonel Roy’s own spin on various regional cuisines, from Mughalai and Tandoori to Chinese, using local vegetables and meats. You place your order from an extensive menu in the morning but the specialty is the various Travancore options such as fish curry, prawn masala and kadai chicken, with a host of tasty side dishes.

A light lunch can be arranged with a little notice and there are plenty of options for eating out in Trivandrum, the capital of Kerala. And if you want to perfect your own culinary skills during your stay, the staff are happy to reveal their secret spice blends and to offer lessons in Mughalai and Kerala cooking.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Children meals
  • Communal dining
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Hang out on the veranda, sheltered from the sun and or the monsoon rains, with board games, playing cards and books from the small library of children’s fiction and popular literature
  • Snooze in a hammock or the 2-person swing
  • Have a game of badminton then soothe your mind and muscles with an in-house yoga or meditation class
  • Try a Mughalai or Keralan cooking lesson and learn about Colonel Roy’s secret spice blends
  • Try all manner of Ayurvedic treatments and massages at the nearby spa or on the antique massage table at the house, including herbal baths, dhara (warm oil massages), kizhi (herb poultice massage) and nasya (inhalation therapy)
  • Visit Trivandrum’s temples and wander through the Zoological Gardens. A walking track through the city takes you past Kanaka Kunnu Palace and the museum

  • Browse the Fair Trade market for unusual handicrafts
  • Take a rickshaw to the beaches at Kovalam and Varkala
  • Catch one of the many festivals, Kathakali (traditional dance) performances and music concerts which take place in Trivandrum throughout the year (ask staff for details of what's happening during your stay)
  • Visit the picturesque backwaters for a day or overnight cruise on an authentic thatched houseboat

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Ayurvedic treatments
  • Badminton
  • Boat trips
  • Cooking classes
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Yoga

Kids

Varikatt Heritage has always been a family home and it continues that tradition by welcoming children of all ages.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

The Suite is your best bet, with a double bed and space for an additional single bed or baby cot in the large dressing room. It connects with the adjoining room with a shared door, so larger families can have more space. There's no bath, only a shower. The rooms can all fit an extra bed or cot, too.

Baby equipment:

  • Cot
  • Bedding
  • Night light
  • Bottle warming

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

Children's meals:

Food is available all day and special mealtimes can be arranged for children. In addition, you have access to a blender and microwave for baby food. There are family-friendly cafes and restaurants within walking distance and you can get takeaway easily.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Toys and books
  • Board games
  • Badminton court, hammocks and double swing in the garden

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Trivandrum Zoo Gardens
  • Beaches
  • Kathakali performances

Families Should Know:

There's a shop for nappies, baby food and beach toys within a short walk.

Distances:

  • Airport 20 minutes (Trivandrum)
  • Hospital: 10 minutes
  • Doctor: 10 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

8/
Rooms
8/
Food
9/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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Rates for Varikatt Heritage