Just 3km from Jew Town and its antique markets, The Malabar House lies in the heart of Fort Kochi. This is where you stay if you want the whole touristy shebang—sightseeing, shopping and backwater cruises. The 17 rooms in this 18th-century mansion have cloth fans, antique furniture, a sunken garden, an amphitheater and an elegant swimming pool. Hit the spa and try out the age-old Kalari massage with special Ayurvedic oils.
The Brunton Boatyard:
Another property of vintage, this sits in an old boatyard by the water’s edge. All of the hotel’s rooms look over the serene sea, as do the rooms’ en-suite bathrooms. Watch the trade ships sail by as you relaxing with a cup of coffee on your balcony. If you’re lucky, you might just spot a dolphin or two. Brunton Boatyard also has its own jetty Ayurveda center and a pool that nearly spills into the harbor.
The Bungalow Heritage Homestay in Vypeen:
Although a suburb of Kochi, Vypeen Island can easily pass off as an idyllic beach resort, complete with forts, white-sand beaches, and fishing colonies. Your host at The Bungalow Homestay is Neema, a proud cook, is settled here with her family. You are solicited to pair up with her in the kitchen as she cooks up traditional Keralite meals. The fact that there are only two guest rooms adds a touch of affinity to the stay.
Kayal Island Retreat:
Located on an island in Vembanad Lake, the intimate-two cottage boutique property is designed to give you a flavor of local life. The food is what the locals eat, and the produce—from rice to fish—comes from the island itself. When you’re not cycling across the paddy fields, try your hand at tapping toddy, or go fishing with the local folk. For those longing on more touristy or globetrotter experiences, Fort Kochi, the ancient settlement of Mattancheri, the pristine Marari beach are not too far from Kayal Island Retreat.
Nestled in a seven-acre estate rich with flora and fauna, this two-storey brick-and-wood bungalow is located on the banks of the Pampa River in South Alleppey. With paddy meadows on one side and water on three others, this one is for those who want to sever from it all. You can easily spend a couple of days appreciating the art and décor of this 150-year-old house. But if you do fancy a reversal of arena, Akkarakalam also offers overnight houseboat cruises and backwater homestays.