Villa Jacaranda

Varkala, Southern Beaches, India Book from Book from £53 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 two 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 keen gardener and cook and is usually around to look after you. You can relax on the beach, visit local temples, go cliff-top shopping, join a yoga class, have an Ayurvedic massage or chill out on the nearby Kerala backwaters.

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 and many a butterfly and bird
  • 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
Foodie
Honeymoon
  • 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. The soft greens, pinks and blues of the walls are reflected in the cushions, the hand-embroidered cotton linen and the muslin curtains, which waft gently in the sea breeze. 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 cat, Kuku, whose smug expression adds a comical, 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 kept warm with a little cosy) 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 a 6.30pm dinner can be arranged with prior notice (although no alcohol is served as the house doesn’t have a licence). The host has developed an eclectic menu of tasty Anglo-Indian dishes, mainly vegetarian, which is dependent on what is seasonally available.

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.

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 or take a yoga class
  • Experience an elephant ride at Puttan Kulam (a half-hour drive away)
  • Book a trip to the local coir factory, the Anjengo Fishing Village or the Elephant Sanctuary
  • Watch a procession taking place during one of the many local temple festivals
  • Hire a motorbike or scooter and go exploring
  • 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
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • 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:

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 16 independent reviews from i-escape guests

9/10
Room
10/10
Food
10/10
Service
9/10
Value
9/10
Overall

The attention to detail shown in the décor, food, cleanliness and service by the very friendly and helpful staff was exceptional. We felt completely relaxed and welcome throughout our stay. The location was great and the house is beautiful. We strongly recommend the room on the top floor with the private balcony if possible. Varkala was one of our favourite stops in Kerala- due largely to Villa Jacaranda. The little hand-drawn map that was given to us on arrival was very helpful, as were the recommendations for nearby restaurants and sightseeing. We had at least three meals at Theeram restaurant on the beachfront which were all delicious and we’re glad we didn’t miss the little shop not far from the beach called Asparagus which sells beautiful organic hand printed cottons and fabrics.

10/10,

A gorgeous oasis of calm with a personal, intimate and homely feel - but not at the expense of pampering and simple luxuries. The perfect escape

10/10,

Stayed for 3 nights. Had the room at the top of the villa with a beautiful huge outdoor terrace. Breakfasts are delicious fresh and served on your terrace. The owner Ajay has a way of making one feel totally at home. The staff are always on hand to help. He recommended brilliant places to eat. Very chilled relaxed vibe & easy location for the beach, yoga, & exploring Varkala.

10/10,

We were taken straight into our room and given a delicious cup of tea after a tiring journey. Ajay, who runs the place, introduced himself after we had settled down on a beautiful balcony with a stunning view. He made us feel so welcome and was so informative - suggesting places we could visit, good places to eat, shopkeepers to trust. He wasn't pushy and all recommendations were totally spot on. The villa itself is a wonderful place to be. Tranquil with stunning views of the sea framed by green leaves all around. The room and balcony beautifully furnished, with fresh flowers and decor. Elegantly decked out. Breakfast was top notch and there was real coffee. I would recommend going to the local material shop where the locals go (ajay knows where) and then taking it to Arun the tailor, who made us two beautiful shirts in 24 hours. We stayed three nights. When we come back I think we would love to stay longer - a week would be amazing

10/10,

We loved staying here. Ajay greeted us warmly and took the time to talk us through some handdrawn maps of the area including his recommendations for places to eat and shop which were really helpful. He had liaised with our friends on our behalf to arrange a 90 min massage complete with pick up and drop off from the villa which was wonderful and such a treat. We only ate here for breakfast, as theres a plethora of dining options in Varkala but the breakfasts we enjoyed were outstanding, up there with the best weve had in Kerala (served on our private verandah overlooking the garden). The whole villa including our room is very tastefully decorated, the staff are smart and very courteous. We could walk to the beach in 10 minutes, but be aware that coming back up its quite a steep hill. We couldn't have higher praise and would definitely recommend and return. Thankyou.

10/10,

Good location, nice beaches, good recomandation for trips with a good driver.

10/10,

A lovely place to stay - especially if you want to be in the quieter area of Varkala. We booked room 3 and then room 4 - both were great, but if you have the budget, go for room 4 which has a beautiful private balcony. The owner was very helpful, equipping us with maps, tips on where to go, and also arranging transport and organising a visit to the Kerala backwaters. We would certainly stay at Villa Jacaranda again.

10/10,

Loved staying at Villa Jacaranda, we stayed in the garden room and the ones with the large roof terrace both were fantastic.The rooms were spotless, the bathrooms were big and the breakfasts very tasty. We really liked the vibe, Ajay and his team were helpful but didn't intrude and had good recommendations for restaurants etc. Great beach if you keep away from the main strip as that can be quite busy- be warned though, the sea has strong currents so you need to be a competent swimmer. Really good Yoga classes over the road at Soul and Surf over the road too, we will definitely come back.

10/10,

Very warm welcome and stylish rooms

10/10,

Lovely house with perfect atmosphere away from the tourist strip at the beach, but within walking distance. We stayed in the rooftop room with spacious private terrace and lovely view. Warm welcome by the owner. Ajay gave us excellent tips for dining, shopping and things to do. Excellent breakfast. We surely will come back for our next visit.

9/10,

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Rates for Villa Jacaranda