“Charming cardamom plantation retreat for walkers and nature-lovers, high on the emerald slopes of the Western Ghats”
This is a low-key, tranquil place where you can fill your lungs with mountain air through nature walks and barbecues beneath the massive garden boulder, with its 360-degree viewing platform, or unwind with occasional yoga classes in the library. Dr Simon’s own planter’s bungalow sits at the centre of the estate, which can be booked as a whole, and he and his wife oversee hospitality and chat charmingly to guests.
- The glorious, uplifting scenery provides satisfyingly long walks
- The views are a great fix if you miss the green, green grass of home - they must qualify as some of the most verdant in India
- The homely, chalet feel is enhanced by the charming presence of your host and his wife
- Those dreaming of a good British fry-up can feast on eggs, crispy bacon and sausages
- All the rooms are spacious and the cottages and planter's villas are blessed with fabulous mountain views
- No alcohol licence, though you can bring your own drinks to enjoy in your room
- The scenery is lush for a reason - clouds and rain are more common than in the rest of India, even outside monsoon season.
- The power supply can be erratic, but there is a back-up generator
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique Hotel
- Restaurant (open daily)
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Outdoor Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Daily Maid Service
- Towels & Bedlinen
All 18 bedrooms, spread across villas and cottages with names such as Coffee, Vanilla, Cardamom and Tea, are clean, comfortable and remarkably spacious, with twin beds pushed together as doubles, terracotta-tiled or varnished wood floors and big picture windows.
The 8 ground-floor Garden Rooms are plainer than the rest but are still warmly furnished and have verandas looking out over the garden and valley. The 8 larger Estate Rooms on the upper floors offer balconies or sitting areas, with views across the valley or the tea plantations, and some have bare stone feature walls. Two of the Garden Rooms and two of the Estate Rooms interconnect, providing a good option for families.
The 2 Planter’s Villa Suites have a double bedroom, a sitting and dining room, a balcony, French windows and a bathroom which opens onto a private courtyard. Decorated in classic cream and white with polished wooden floorboards, they offer the best views and the most privacy, as well as having the added benefit of telephones, TVs and DVD players.
- DVD player
- Internet access
A team of in-house chefs whip up traditional Malayali, oriental and continental meals, often using Dr Simon’s own family recipes. The menu features more meat dishes than you’ll usually find in Kerala, including bacon, sausages and locally-raised beef, pork and mutton. Plantains, spinach, spices and honey all come from the estate.
Breakfasts start with papaya or mussambi (tangy yellow orange) juice, followed by a spicy south Indian kick-starter or Western comforts such as cereals, toast and jam and fry-ups.
Dinner, served in the wooden-raftered Barn Restaurant, is table d’hote rather than à la carte, with a variety of tasty meat and vegetable curries or continental dishes. Specialties include mollie, a Syrian-Christian delicacy of fish cooked in fresh coconut milk, and a knock-out pork vindaloo.
Lunch of sandwiches, Keralan curries and desserts is available at any time of the day. There is also a thatched tea hut for afternoon snacks, plus a barbecue space under the massive garden boulder for feasting on flame-grilled meats, fish and vegetables.
- Lunch by arrangement
- Vegetarian menu
- Every day, Windermere provide a complimentary 4km-guided walk through the 60-acre estate's soaring evergreen forests, highlighting cardamom cultivation and processing. Afterwards, unwind beside the outdoor pool, drinking in the verdant views
- For early risers, the guided early morning trek winds up through the tea bushes to the top of Chokkan Mudi, 2,500m above the estate. You can also take a woodland stroll to Attukadu Waterfall for a picnic (allow 4 hours) or climb up into the mountains for views of the colonial town of Munnar
- Visit one of the tea museums and factories in the Tata tea country, where the history, processing and art of making a cup of tea are all revealed
; day trips by jeep can be arranged
- Twitchers will love the Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, where you can see cuckoos, owls, darters and large-billed warblers
- Speedboating is available at Mattupetty Dam (13km away), though it can get crowded with Indian daytrippers
- Take an elephant ride through Eravikulam National Park, where you can see the endangered nilgiri thar mountain goat
- The Indo-Swiss Project is worth visiting for its beautiful garden, cattle farm, vegetable-dye processing and plant nursery in the middle of a vast grassland
- The adventurous can climb Meesapulimalai, the second highest peak in the Western Ghats (2,600m). The ascent takes around 8 hours, and staff can arrange transport to the starting point in the stunning Silent Valley, an hour's drive away
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Boat trips
- Plantlife / flora
- Traditional cultures
Children of all ages are welcome, although there are no additional facilities for younger visitors. There are two sets of interconnecting rooms which are ideal for families and there are plenty of activities in the surrounding area to amuse children, although there are no beaches or pools nearby.
Teens (over 12)