“Exquisitely restored teakwood house on a serene backwater (available by the room or as a private for 2-5), plus a sister property nearby”
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
- A 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. Nearby, simpler eco-retreat Ameya offers more rooms managed by the same team
- The option to take punter-boat tours straight from the jetty; trips to Alleppey, Fort Cochin and the coast can be arranged, too
- Impeccable service from Jan and Christel (who also manage sister property A Beach Symphony) and their team. Everything you need appears as if by magic
- 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 very limited WiFi - but you’re here to escape the outside world
- Full prepayment required prior to arrival
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique guesthouse
- 2 bedrooms + 3 room sister property
- Breakfast (+ other meals on request)
- All ages welcome (best for older kids)
- Open all year
- Outdoor Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- 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.
If Vismaya is full or you need more space, consider a stay at Ameya, on the opposite shore. We haven’t seen it yet, but it looks lovely. The design is a little simpler but proportions are much larger and the eco-credentials are excellent (the property is powered entirely by renewable solar energy). Here you'll find two Lake View Cottages and one Endless View Suite looking towards the lake.
- Air conditioning
- Cots Available
- Extra beds
- Safe box
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.
Over at Ameya, there's a similarly relaxed approach to dining. Just choose your favourite spot and enjoy - perhaps the veranda or lakeside? Ameya serves breakfast, lunch and light snacks.
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.
- Children meals
- Dinner by arrangement
- Lunch by arrangement
- Vegetarian menu
- Relaxation is the main draw at both Vismaya and Ameya, so indulge in lounging by their pools, 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), 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 thank-you 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 the beach at Vismaya's sister property, A Beach Symphony (18km away). Staff there will provide towels and loungers
- 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:
- Boat trips
- Historical sites
- Plantlife / flora
- Private guided tours
- Shopping / markets
- Traditional cultures
- Well being
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.
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.
The chef can put together child-friendly favourites such as sandwiches and pasta.
Kids Activities on site:
- 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