Vismaya Lake Heritage

Lake Vembanad, Cochin & the Backwaters, India
Book from GBP Book from £165 per night

Vismaya Lake Heritage

Lake Vembanad, Cochin & the Backwaters, India

Exquisitely restored teakwood house on a serene backwater (available by the room or as a private property for 2-5)

Exquisitely restored teakwood house on a serene backwater (available by the room or as a private property for 2-5)

When Arun Prasad and his wife Smitha stumbled across an abandoned 400-year-old chieftain's house in a forgotten corner of jungle, they combined forces to save it from a fate as firewood. First, they transported it piece by piece to a small peninsula jutting out into Lake Vembanad, where it now stands among whispering palms and tropical fruit groves. Then they spent 3 years restoring it to its former glory, discovering along the way that it has considerable historical value and was mentioned in The Aithiyamala, Kerala’s version of Aesop’s Fables.

The results of their efforts are breathtaking. Stepping from the heat into the cool, dark interior is like stepping into another realm where time disappears. As you pad along the smooth stone floors, run your fingertips across the intricate wall carvings and sip the cardamom and pineapple juice delivered by your personal concierge, you’ll wonder if you’re dreaming. There are only 2 bedrooms (a double and a twin), and many guests book the whole place so they can wallow in the infinity pool, dine on delicious Keralan cuisine and lounge on the verandas in total privacy. Vismaya means ‘magic place’ and, as you sway in a hammock watching the sun set over the water, you’ll quickly fall under its spell.


  • A romantic and peaceful location on placid Lake Vembanad; this is decompression at its finest
  • The option to take punter-boat tours straight from the jetty; trips to Alleppey, Fort Cochin and the coast can be arranged, too
  • We loved the seamless fusion of traditional Keralan architecture and modern European comforts
  • Flexible accommodation - the double and twin room are useful for families, and couples can book the property on an exclusive basis
  • Impeccable service. Everything you need appears as if by magic


  • If booking just one room, you'll be at close quarters with guests in the other room: we advise booking the whole place
  • Meals are slightly pricier than the Indian norm, but the food is excellent and tailored to your tastes
  • Ensuites take the form of open-air ‘bath gardens’ - they’re completely private, but you might encounter the occasional creepy-crawly
  • Most staff are from the nearby village and have limited English, though you can expect genuine warmth
  • No TV and limited WiFi - but you’re here to escape the outside world

Best time to go

Kerala’s high season runs from October to February, when you can count on manageable temperatures and very little rain. August and September can also bring lovely weather, and far fewer crowds. March and April are sunny but very humid, though prices are slashed drastically for those who can stand the heat. The monsoon season (May-July) is not recommended due to the open-air design of Vismaya, and the property closes for the worst of the rains.

Our top tips

The morning chorus of exotic birds will almost certainly wake you just before dawn. Take this as your calling to slink outside and watch the sun come up over the densely forested horizon, with only a dozen or so silent fishing boats dotted around the lake for company. Unforgettable.

Great for...

  • Boutique Guesthouse
  • 2 rooms (or rental for 4)
  • Breakfast (+ other meals on request)
  • All ages welcome (best for older kids)
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • Beach Nearby
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Car not necessary
  • Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • WiFi
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Bicycles Available


The 2 rooms are set side by side and connected via a tranquil wood-clad sitting room with swinging benches around a traditional open-air skylight. There's a Double Room or a Twin Room, but other than that they’re identical, flawlessly blending rustic Keralan design with modern comforts. Expect high thread-count sheets, batik linen bathrobes, and clever air-con built into the teakwood structure. The ensuites are open-air ‘bath gardens’ screened by high walls and lush vegetation, so you can shower under the stars and listen to crickets as you tiptoe out to the covered toilet.

You can either book an individual room or take the whole house on an exclusive basis. A popular choice for honeymooners and couples is the 'private for 2' option, which gives you sole use of the property when only taking one bedroom. Given the intimate size of the house, you would likely see a lot of the other guests if you chose not to book this, but the expansive gardens are full of nooks and crannies where you can relax in privacy.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Fan
  • Safe box
  • WiFi


Meals at Vismaya are lazy affairs to enjoy whenever and wherever you want - on the veranda, in the garden, even on a candlelit table on the jetty. There’s no menu as such; instead, staff will ask what you’d like to eat and tailor options accordingly. The chef uses ingredients from the local market, and you can expect everything to be fresh and extremely tasty.

Breakfast starts with a vibrant arrangement of fruit and a cafetière of excellent Keralan coffee. You then have your pick of a continental spread (locally baked bread, eggs, jam) or Keralan specialities such as masala dosa (thin pancakes filled with spiced potato) and my favourite, idli sambhar (little bread puffs served with coconut chutney). Make sure to order the banana lassi at least once - it’s brilliant. Lunch and dinner range from light salads and sandwiches to homemade pasta, biriyani, and impressive Keralan feasts of curried veg and freshly seared fish. A small selection of wines, beers and spirits is available, too.

The small town of Cherthala is a short taxi ride away should you fancy a change of scene. It has several eateries for a quick thali lunch, but don’t expect anything luxurious.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Kids' meals
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Vegetarian options


  • Relaxation is the main draw, so indulge in lounging poolside, reading on the verandas, or sipping sundowners in one of the hammocks overlooking the lake
  • Practice yoga in Vismaya's gardens (there are mats to borrow), have a massage on site, or ask staff to book a treatment at the Ayurveda centre in town
  • Meander around the lake and its network of tranquil canals aboard a traditional punter boat - particularly beautiful at dawn or dusk. An hour's tour is included as a thankyou for booking through i-escape
  • Borrow Vismaya’s bikes for a leisurely ride through charming rural villages, or take a tuk-tuk tour around local temples
  • Spend a day on Marari beach
  • Take a day trip to Alleppey to see its houseboats, or to Fort Cochin to wander through the buzzing markets and visit Asia’s oldest European church

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Ayurvedic treatments
  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Cycling
  • Historical sites
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Well being
  • Yoga


Vismaya is a wonderful place to bring older children (the proximity of the lake means it's not ideal for little ones), though staff ensure that couples and families do not stay at the same time.

Staff are doting, and the large gardens mean there’s plenty of space for games.

Best for:

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

Family friendly accommodation:

The Vismaya house can sleep up to 5 if you book both rooms, and an additional floor mattress can be added to either bedroom on request. There are no baby cots on site, but they can be brought in from sister property A Beach Symphony if needed.

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available

Children's meals:

The chef can put together child-friendly favourites such as sandwiches and pasta.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Pool
  • Bikes to borrow
  • Hammocks to swing in

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Punter-boat tours
  • Tuk-tuk rides

Families Should Know:

The pool and lakeshore aren't fenced.


  • Airport: 65km (Cochin)
  • Shop: 3km
  • Hospital: 6km
Kid Friendly:


Vismaya is situated on a tranquil peninsula jutting out into Lake Vembanad, near the town of Cherthala. Alleppey is 28km away, and Fort Cochin 40km.

By Air:
Cochin International Airport is 65km away (a 1.5-hour drive), and reachable from most countries via a stopover in the Middle East - click on the links below for more information.

From the Airport
Vismaya is so secluded that most taxi drivers don’t know of its existence, so we recommend booking an air-conditioned airport transfer in advance, through the guesthouse.

By Train:
Nearby Cherthala sits on the line between Trivandrum and Cochin, and is served by several trains a day. Staff can arrange a transfer from the station.

Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through

More on getting to Kerala and getting around


  • Cochin International 65.0 km COK


  • Beach 15.0 km
  • Shops 3.0 km
  • Restaurant 3.0 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests


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