Windermere Estate

Munnar, The Hill Country, India Book from

Charming cardamom plantation retreat for walkers and nature-lovers, high on the emerald slopes of the Western Ghats
Perched at 1,600m among vivid green tea plantations and misty blue mountains, Windermere Estate is a nature retreat with a Scottish Highlands feel. Wooden beams and floorboards, terracotta tiles, cheerfully-checked linen and lace curtains all add a warm, homely feel. Ophthalmic surgeon Dr Simon bought this 60-acre cardamom plantation estate in the 1990s and, when he opened the first 4 rooms, deliberately went for a farmhouse-cum-chalet feel rather than that of a hotel. Since then he’s built 12 more cottages and planter's villas, a wooden barn housing a bistro-style dining room, a bright and airy library and yoga space, and an open-sided thatched tea hut.

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


  • There is no swimming pool
  • 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

There are no major seasonal weather changes in Kerala as it benefits from a temperate, tropical climate all year round. Being in the hills, however, the estate does cool down at night, though room heaters are provided and there’s an open fire in the Barn Restaurant. It tends to rain most heavily during June and July. The best time to visit is from August until March, before temperatures rise and the pre-monsoon showers and humidity set in.

Our top tips

Trek through the lush, electric-green forests and misty purple mountains for the opportunity to spot wildlife such as huge, gliding squirrels - don't forget to pack good-quality, comfortable walking boots, light waterproofs and binoculars.

Great for...

Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 18
  • Restaurant (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • 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
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
Room: Planter\\\'s Villa


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.

Features include:

  • Dvd player
  • Internet access
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Tv
  • WiFi


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.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Restaurant
  • Vegetarian menu


  • Windermere organises daily 4km guided walks (included in the rates) through the soaring evergreen forests of the 60-acre estate to see cardamom cultivation and processing

  • For early risers there is a guided early morning trek, winding up through the tea bushes to the top of Chokkan Mudi, which stands at 2,500m overlooking the estate. You can also stroll through the woods 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:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Hiking
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Traditional cultures
  • Wildlife
  • Yoga


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.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Kid Friendly:

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