Villa Jacaranda

Varkala, Southern Beaches, India Book from Book from £94 per night

A charming and peaceful 4-room guesthouse in Varkala, with rooftop terrace, fragrant garden and veranda views of the Arabian Sea
Varkala is a laid-back beach town on the Keralan coast. A favourite with backpackers for years, it’s become increasingly popular with general holiday-makers, most of whom stay on the colourful but busy North Cliff. Villa Jacaranda provides a friendly and comfortable alternative on the South Cliff, a tranquil area just 5 minutes’ walk from the dramatic Papanasham beach.

Fronted by 2 jacaranda trees and deep pink bougainvillea, the guesthouse is set on the bend of a quiet road, with views of the distant sea from its veranda. The 4 homely rooms are simply furnished and decorated in soft pastel colours. All have pretty, blue-railed verandas for reading and dining and there’s a large rooftop terrace with many a potted plant for the exclusive use of room 4, together with a lush garden with a lily pond for everyone to enjoy. Owner-manager Ajay, who used to live in England, is a delight. He's a keen gardener and cook and is always around to look after you, though not in an obtrusive way. You can relax on one of 2 nearby beaches, visit local temples, go cliff-top shopping, join a yoga class, have an Ayurvedic massage or chill out on the nearby Kerala backwaters.
Covid-19 update: some services and facilities may be changed as a result of Coronavirus measures.

Highs

  • It’s on South Cliff, which is quieter, more mellow and more private than the busier and more developed North Cliff
  • The verandas and rooftop terrace provide pretty little outdoor spaces to eat, drink, read and watch the sun set into the just-glimpsed Arabian sea - ideal for escaping for a little while
  • The small garden with lily pond is full of fragrant flowers, dappled light, butterflies and birds
  • Soulful singing from the nearby temple provides a lovely twice-daily soundtrack

Lows

  • Varkala's very strong currents can make swimming at Papanasham beach dangerous, so pay close attention to the lifeguards and warning flags
  • There are no phones for room service, or any common sitting or dining areas - this is somewhere you come for privacy, seclusion and relaxation
  • Over 8s only

Best time to go

Villa Jacaranda is open all year round. September to February is peak season in this part of India and temperatures rarely exceed 26C - 28C, while March to May is much hotter. The monsoon season from June to mid-September is a romantic time to visit as everything is particularly lush and there are far fewer people about, but most days will bring heavy downpours.

Our top tips

There's an excellent Ayurvedic Centre (massages, treatments, yoga) next to the hotel, stop by if you're in need of a lift.

Great for...

Beach
Cheap & Chic
Foodie
Romantic
  • Boutique Guesthouse
  • 4
  • Breakfast (+ other meals on request)
  • Over 8s only
  • 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
  • Bicycles Available
Room:

Rooms

The 4 double rooms all have terracotta-tiled floors, lots of space and an unfussy design. Furniture is a mixture of local pieces and items which reflect the owner’s travels (Tuscan armoires, Byzantine-style chandeliers, Thai Buddha statues, French turn-of-the-century sconces, Burmese lacquer-ware trays and Vietnamese planters). Small alcoves, low tables from Syria and brass urli bowls with floating flowers add a touch of the Middle East, and garlands of jasmine blossoms are arranged on lotus leaves to perfume your evenings.

The white tiled bathrooms are spotless, with murals of plum and purple-coloured circles adding a bold design touch. Bath and beach towels are provided and woven cloths from Bangalore add splashes of hot colour.

Each room has the use of a veranda with views of the sea or garden (note that the veranda for room 3 is shared not private). The veranda for room 4 merges with the rooftop terrace to create a wonderful private retreat.

Mosquito nets are available on request and mosquito plugs are provided, though sea breezes tend to keep insects at bay except between 6 and 6.30pm. There's also a resident cocker puppy and a couple of ducks that add a fun, homely touch.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Fan
  • Safe box
  • WiFi

Eating

Breakfast is served on your veranda between 8am and 10am and consists of simple, tasty vegetarian fare - homemade bread, toast and jam, porridge with nuts, fruit and honey, milkshakes and fruit salad. There are also eggs cooked however you like them, including Indian-style bhurji (with fresh onion, tomatoes, green chilli and coriander), and masala omelettes. The china is elegantly white, the coffee is delicious, and the tables are brightened with pink linen place mats and vases of flowers.

Light refreshments and free filtered water are available on request, and dinner can be arranged with prior notice (no alcohol is served as the house doesn’t have a licence). Ajay is an excellent cook and has developed an eclectic menu of tasty Anglo-Indian dishes, mainly vegetarian, which are dependent on what is seasonally available. We had his beetroot, cashew nut and lime salad, sambar dal with rice, green bean thoran, Thai egg fried rice and paratha. All delicious.

If you want to eat out there are many local restaurants to choose from, most perched in a line along the lively North cliff and serving all manner of international cuisine, with hauls of catch-of-the-day fish laid out for your selection. If you can’t be bothered to go that far, Theeram is a basic but recommended choice close by, where you can sit on the beach with your feet in the sand, and have the best tandoori fish and prawns in Varkala.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Wander over to Varkala’s cliff-cradled Papanasham beach (a 5-minute walk) and explore the huge 12th Century Janardhanaswamy Temple - an important Hindu pilgrimage site
  • Rise with the dawn to watch local fishermen bring in their boats and listen to their songs
  • Walk for 15 minutes (or take a short tuk-tuk ride) to Varkala's colourful and lively North Cliff to browse clothes stalls, eat at one of the many sea-facing restaurants, take a yoga class, or even go paragliding
  • Book a trip to the Anjengo Fishing Village and Fort, or a punting boat trip to the privately owned Golden Island with its lone Shiva Temple and plethora of bird and plant life
  • Watch a procession taking place during one of the many local temple festivals
  • Hire a motorbike or scooter and go exploring
  • There is an excellent surfing school nearby
  • Meander along the Kerala backwaters from Kollam (an hour away by train or taxi)
  • Take a longer day or overnight trip to see Neyyar Dam, Sivananda Ashram, the tea gardens at Ponmudi and Padmanabha Palace (the only wooden palace in India)
  • Pop to the spa next door for a rejuvenation massage or a blissful 'shirodhara' treatment (warm-oil dripped on the forehead) - guests of the guesthouse get discounted rates

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Ayurvedic treatments
  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Elephant rides
  • Historical sites
  • Paragliding
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Well being
  • Wildlife
  • Yoga

Kids

Villa Jacaranda does not accept guests under the age of 8, as there is no play area and the pond is unfenced.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Kid Friendly:

Location

Villa Jacaranda is an hour’s drive from Trivandrum in southern India.

By Air
Trivandrum Thiruvananthapuram International (50km away) is the closest airport, though Cochin International is only 185km away.

From the Airport
Villa Jacaranda offers a transfer service (enquire when booking).

By Train
The train from Cochin takes 3 to 4 hours to Varkala Station, from where you can pick up a taxi to Villa Jacaranda (a 10-minute journey). Varkala also has rail links to Madras (Chennai), Bangalore, New Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Rajkot and Mangalore.

Getting Around
North Cliff and the beach are within walking distance and tuk-tuks and taxis are readily available.

Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.

Airports:

  • Tivandrum Thiruvananthapuram International 55.0 km TRV
  • Cochin International 185.0 km COK

Other:

  • Beach 0.5 km
  • Shops 0.3 km
  • Restaurant 0.5 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 5 independent reviews from i-escape guests

10/10
Room
10/10
Food
10/10
Service
10/10
Value
10/10
Overall

We spent 4 nights in this absolutely beautiful villa set in the loveliest and quietest end of Varkala (south cliff), about 5 minutes walk from the beach. From the outside the villa is relatively unassuming, but once within you soon realise that someone with a very artistic eye has been at work. The rooms are extremely spacious, characterful (heritage style), and beautifully decorated in dark wood, with window shutters, gorgeous Indian wall hangings and richly coloured bedspreads. The bathrooms are huge, with lovely details such as traditional Keralan bowls and high-quality toiletries (lovely sandalwood and jasmine soaps). But what really made this villa stand out for us were the private terraces that are attached to the rooms, particularly the magnificent, sunny, flower-filled terrace at the top with views overlooking the sea, where you could quite easily spend all day relaxing in the deck chairs and watching the birds that come to perch and bathe. Ajay, the owner and designer of the villa, lives next door and was extremely helpful, charming and welcoming. He speaks perfect English and talked us through the area and gave several recommendations of places to go (including the local temple and beaches) and where to eat, one of which we went to 3 times as it was so good (Theeram's - they do fantastic tandoori dishes - the tandoori red snapper was definitely one of the best things we ate in India). The breakfasts, which we enjoyed on the top terrace, were absolutely delicious, including the freshly baked bread. In addition, we also had a couple of lunches, which were also excellent. There are 4 rooms in the villa - the one at the top is exquisite and certainly the piece de resistance, but we also loved the one on the first floor with the private terrace (large enough for table, chairs, deckchair and yoga area!). The garden room is nice, although you don't get the views of the sea. All in all, we had an excellent few days at the Villa Jacaranda and we can highly recommend it for anyone looking for a peaceful romantic retreat close to a gorgeous, sandy, remarkably empty beach. Thank you for a lovely stay.

10/10,

Perfect. Just wished we could have stayed longer. Beautiful, warm and welcoming. Will definitely return and recommend.

10/10,

Ajay is an incredible host and his home is beautiful. Everything was perfect: the room, the view, the food and the service. The only bad part was leaving.

10/10,

We had an excellent stay with Ajay & his team. The villa is beautiful & very comfortable. We found everything was thought through in advance to ensure that our stay was a relaxing as possible. Staff were very attentive & arranged local Ayurvedic treatments and transport for us. An incredibly relaxing place - and we wish we could have stayed longer.

10/10,

We stayed in Room four which had a large private terrace which was heavenly. Villa Jacaranda was beautifully decorated and had a very peaceful atmosphere. The service was impeccable and all staff very friendly and helpful. We would highly recommend staying here. Villa Jacaranda is situated on the South Cliff which meant it was quieter but did mean a ten minute walk to the North Cliff where you had many restaurants and shops with incredible views across the beach and sea. We enjoyed this walk but certainly built up a sweat.

10/10,

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