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Palm-tree lined beaches, yoga retreats and elephant sanctuaries are all part of Kerala‘s appeal. Explore tea plantations, try Ayurvedic therapies and cruise the tranquil backwaters of this southwest Indian tropical paradise.
Recognised as “God’s Own Country”, Kerala is renowned the world over for its warmth, which is instrumental in the place being consistently ranked among the all-time top tourist destinations in the world. With the philosophy of “Athithi Devo Bhava”, meaning “the guest is equivalent to God”, the hospitality industry of Kerala delivers on all fronts. Choose from these top hotels and resorts for your next stay, and book with Culture Trip.
Imagine swimming in an elevated infinity pool facing the babbling Attukad waterfalls above a beautiful sloped tea plantation. Munnar is the tea capital of southern India and staying here you’ll be in a blissful oasis of natural greenery. Explore the area on a trek with the in-house naturalist, relax with yoga and meditation sessions or learn about Ayurvedic living from local experts. The accommodation has plenty of comforts and all the right tech, and the staff are warm and helpful. A freshly brewed cup of Munnar tea on the terrace is a must.
Wake up in this charming Dutch-inspired property to the sight of fishermen on Periyar River just metres away, and enjoy a breakfast of traditional southern Indian dishes. All seven colourful rooms are river-facing and light-flooded. The hotel kitchen garden is teeming with spices ready to be picked and cooked with the catch of the day for dinner. The Ayurvedic Spa offers excellent massages in a snug cottage with a colour-stained glass roof.
This stylish and modern property with popping murals and oversized windows that frame tropical scenes is found in a suburb of Kochi called Nedumbassery. The Kettle tea lounge is a high-end buzzy canteen, while the all-day restaurant, Lila’s Kitchen, serves delicious homemade Keralan dishes. This is one slick, but heartfelt, operation.
Take a step back in time in this buttercup-yellow hotel, originally built by the Dutch in the 1860s, on the popular Princess Street in Fort Kochi. The 27 luxury rooms are ample in size with four-poster beds, elegant antique furniture and Portuguese-style tiled flooring. The central courtyard is the perfect spot to start the day with a tasty continental breakfast.
Teetering high in the dewy greenery of Munnar, this hill hotel is suited to nature lovers and adventurous tea drinkers in equal measure. All rooms are elegant, with pastel-hued panelling and a decadent regency-feel, but the mid-range Moonlight Bliss rooms have private hill-facing terraces with plunging views without the honeymoon price tag. Take a (strenuous) trek followed by an authentic Ayurveda wellness treatment in the spa.
The ancient principles of Ayurveda, an alternative medicine system rooted in India, runs through every part of this hotel from the specialised restaurant menus to calming spa treatments and accommodation, which is split over water and land. The floating cottages are bursting with character and offer close-up views of the Keralan backwaters, and fishermen casting their Chinese nets each morning.
Built in 1506, this boutique hotel is an aptly named private home near Fort Kochi. Each of the eight rooms are named after famous former guests and explorers, and are fitted with elegant antique furnishings. There’s a small decked pool in the garden, and although there’s no spa, in-room or on-your-veranda treatments can be arranged. The communal areas are accessible for wheelchair users and one ground-floor room has been specially adapted.
This beautiful property flanks Vembanad, the largest lake in India and a tranquil backdrop to the garden-view and lake-facing rooms, and the bamboo pool villas. There’s also a lake-fronting infinity pool and three plunge pools with a view of the backwaters. Granary, the in-house restaurant, has a multi-cuisine menu and all dishes are created using locally sourced ingredients and fresh market produce. The property is roughly a two-hour drive from the international airport and Kottayam Railway Station is half an hour away.
Once a former shipyard, Brunton Boatyard’s architecture harks back to the British colonial period. Just take a look at the lounge – old-fashioned punkahs (fans) still hang from its ceiling. It sits prettily on the waterfront with gorgeous views across the harbour. Book a sea-facing room if you can – you’ll catch the stunning sunsets, and might also spot a dolphin or two. Start the day with laps of the pool, followed by a traditional Ayurvedic massage.
This five-star hotel is just a 15-minute drive from Munnar, but feels secluded, thanks to the 12 acres (5ha) of gardens surrounding it. A real highlight of Parakkat Nature Resorts is the stunning view across the verdant rolling hills and tea plantations. For the ultimate luxury stay, book a villa with a private plunge pool. The resort also offers a number of tours – from guided 4×4 tours to local market visits.
Steeped in history, Xandari Harbour at Fort Kochi is a walk into the past. Housed in an ex-spice warehouse that is nearly 300 years old, the hotel is pared-back and rustic with unpainted walls, especially in the industrial 51 Restaurant. Rooms are more plush with wooden floors, floor-to-ceiling windows and crisp, white bed linen. Enjoy a dip in the natural pool or start the day with a yoga class.
Nestled in the backwaters of Kumarakom, the Zuri Kumarakom is a five-star property located on Vembanad Lake. Winding lagoons, coconut trees and a sea breeze paint a picture-perfect view of the place, combining nature with luxury. Head to the award-winning Maya Spa, which combines Ayurvedic treatments with Western and Oriental therapies. Try the Abhyangam massage, which uses dosha-specific oils to flush out toxins.
As you might imagine, the Old Lighthouse Bristow Hotel provides sea views from its Fort Kochi vantage point. With just 13 guest rooms, the hotel provides a personalised service and relaxed, calming atmosphere. Book a sea view suite to enjoy the sound of waves at night. Breakfast is complimentary, plus there is an outdoor pool, Ayurvedic spa and yoga studio. At dinner, the honey glazed pork is well worth a try.
Nuzzled in the heart of nature, Hills and Hues Resort is where you can wake up to chirping birds and the sight of mist rolling down the valley. The real draw here is the infinity pool with its truly astonishing view over the Periyar hills. Book the King’s Lair for 180-degree views from the floor-to-ceiling windows. Try one of the many experiences – from visiting a tiger sanctuary to bamboo rafting. We’d also recommend booking the cooking lesson from the in-house chef, who will take you through their fruit, vegetable and spice garden.
This is an updated version of an article originally by Charishma Thankappan.