In the misty folds of this tea-stitched, trail-laced hill station in India, you’ll find converted cardamom estates, spoiling ayurvedic spas and infinity-edge retreats that take in views of the Western Ghats – all bookable on Culture Trip.
The hotels in Munnar have seriously amped up their luxury game in recent years. Today, around this atmospheric Indian hill station, you can soak up mist-wrapped views of the Unesco-protected Western Ghats of Kerala from a silky-smooth infinity pool, savour the go-slow pace of life at a scenically sited homestay, hit up a swish spa for Ayurvedic treatments, or settle into a tea- and spice-stitched plantation stay. Here are the best luxury hotels in Munnar, from romantic couples’ escapes to wholesome hideaways for gangs of friends.
While other Munnar resorts turn things sleekly contemporary, this reimagined colonial-era cardamom estate charms with elegant plantation-inspired architecture, natural-feel grounds packed with peach and guava, and a dazzling pool looking across tea-growing fields. It’s the most magical address in Munnar, with spectacular views sweeping down the valley. The 18 soothingly stylish rooms spotlight local crafts (hand-embroidered sheets, Munnar-made furniture) and feature gabled roofs, terracotta flooring and fresh-cut flowers. Dining here is a delight: the kitchen whips up glorious Keralan meals based on market-fresh and homegrown ingredients.
The luxury at award-winning Rose Gardens arrives in the form of an enchanting, eco-conscious homestay (12km/7.5mi southwest of Munnar), surrounded by organic spice and fruit crops, whispering shola forest and rainbow-painted botanical gardens. The five warm rooms (with solar-heated water) open onto terraces where you can feast on breakfasts of fresh pineapple, coconut-laced pancakes and locally grown coffee. After spending the day wandering the tea estates of Munnar or spotting Western Ghats wildlife – including macaques, Bengal tigers, leopards, Indian elephants and wild dogs – relax over glorious Keralan family dinners rooted in homegrown produce.
Out in the wild yet still only a 10-minute drive into Munnar town, this is a smart, contemporary design escape with views cascading across tea estates. Go for a valley-facing room with a terrace, or better yet, enjoy it all from the private hot tub in the honeymoon suite. Cycling, hiking, campfires and cooking demos are among the activities on offer, while the spa puts the focus on traditional Ayurveda with classic treatments including shirodhara head massage.
Around 15km (9mi) south of Munnar, this sparkling resort sits among bright hillside gardens and rustling coconut palms, overlooking Chengulam Dam. Rooms channel a low-key, cottage-inspired look (gabled roofs, tangled greenery) – that is, until you stumble across the private-pool villas, which up the ante a notch. But the real star is the gleaming infinity pool, with mountain views sprawling all around. Start the day with open-air yoga or meditation, hike to waterfalls and viewpoints, and dive into the area’s tea-growing history, especially around nearby Chithirapuram.
The Muthirapuzha River meanders past this original, forest-fringed resort, which takes inspiration from both traditional Keralan architecture and mountain lodges around the world. Rooms are smartly styled with coconut-wood furniture, banana-fibre lights and splashes of gold, with the club category making the most of sprawling views through sweeping windows and private balconies. Laze in the floodlit infinity pool, or dive into the art of Keralan cooking with a resident chef. It’s all surrounded by spice gardens, 14km (9mi) south of Munnar in Pallivasal village.
Feeling more like a slick city bolthole, this top-end retreat lives up to the name with wraparound views across shola forest and tea fields, near Anachal village (10km/6mi outside Munnar). Solar power, a biogas plant and organic vegetable gardens figure among the ecofriendly initiatives here. The Panoramic Suite comes with an open-air shower and a swing bench; or you can splash around in your own plunge pool in the mirror-walled Pavilion Suite, which also has a sauna. Elsewhere, all guests have access to two heated infinity pools – one of them adults-only.
It’s more than worth the hour’s drive to reach this stylish, environmentally aware, get-away-from-it all spot, 20km (12mi) west of Munnar in the forested, spice-growing Bison Valley area. Antique furniture fills the soothing rooms (which have tiled baths and colourful throws), solar power heats the view-soaked pool, regional herbs fuel the Ayurvedic spa, and yoga classes add to the fresh and fragrant Keralan menu. There’s also a strong focus on interacting with and supporting the local community via expert-led tours about the spice-trade history of the region.
Knockout Western Ghats views steal the show at low-key Kites, 20km (12mi) south of Munnar, so it’s only fitting that each room gets a balcony. The tiered cottage-like rooms are built into a sloping, garden-dotted hillside and kept both fuss-free and contemporary, while an elevated walkway leads to the open-air dining area, where market-fresh ingredients arrive in dishes of coconutty Keralan-style fish and more. Get out into the wild with a hike up Chokramudi Peak, mountain bike to nearby villages, or go bird and butterfly watching around rushing waterfalls.
You’ll drink in calming panoramas across Ponmudi Lake from the climatised saltwater infinity pool at Ragamaya, a classic-meets-contemporary retreat, 30km (19mi) south of Munnar town. There’s a choice of 20 traditional or more contemporary rooms, all with balconies, and the best have private plunge pools. In the Ayurvedic Spandini Spa, centuries-old therapies such as oil-based abhyanga massages and herb-infused kizhi await, and all kinds of outdoor fun can be arranged, from canoeing and hiking to visits to a spice and coffee farm.