A fiery sunset over a tiny canal surrounded by palm trees – definitely the stuff of dreams. Soon, the sky was alight with twinkling stars. We lay there, hand in hand, staring at the starry sky, not wanting to retire for the night. Such was our rendezvous with a houseboat in Kerala.
Labyrinthine canals and backwaters, lush bougainvillea sprouting from every nook and corner, verdant spice plantations, hot scents arising from creamy coconut curries, ribbons of light playing with cascading waterfalls – all experiences that make you throw your arms up in wonder! When a state boasts of such luscious experiences, it’s only natural to look for hotels that amplify the experience. Run-of-the-mill luxury hotels just don’t make the cut.
On our trip to Kerala we wanted hotels to be experiences in themselves and boy did we luck out! We ended up finding bespoke retreats hidden in the middle of coffee farms, eco hotels accessible only by boat, and luxurious houseboats made for romantic getaways on Kerala’s backwaters. If you’ve read our itinerary for a road trip in Kerala, you would know we booked a couple of hotels independently while we discovered others on Plush Escapes, a website that curates experiential getaways in different parts of India. These curated properties turned out to be some of our favourite hotels (and experiences!) in Kerala. All these hotels had a distinct character, that revelled in paying homage to local cultures and traditions. No wonder we loved ’em. Here are 3 of our favourite hotels in Kerala:
Shalimar Spice Garden, Thekkady
Nestled in the midst of Kerala’s famous Cardamom Hills, lies this private hideaway. The hotel pays tribute to the rich heritage of Kerala and boasts of acres upon acres of spice plantations and coffee farms. But it does not compromise on creature comforts. Shalimar Spice Gardens boasts of rustic yet luxurious cottages, equipped with spacious bathrooms, organic toiletries, fast wifi, and sprawling balconies. The hotel’s pool boasts of a coffee bar overlooking lush spice plantations. Take a dip in the pool and relax in one of their bohemian crochet hammocks as you sip on some typical South Indian filter coffee. Go for a walk in their plantations which boast of several kinds of trees and shrubs – everything from avocado and papaya to gooseberry and nutmeg is on offer.
When you’ve worked up an appetite, head straight to the in-house restaurant. Now we ate at several hole-in-the-wall eateries and luxury hotels on our trip to Kerala, but we enjoyed the food at Shalimar Spice Garden the most! I don’t resort to hyperbole often, but I would call it finger-lickingly delicious! Try their Malabari Chicken salad – flash fried mustard seeds, curry leaves, shredded chicken, and julienned carrots are tossed together with a spicy dressing bursting with flavour. The spiciness is offset by slivers of juicy oranges.
But this is just the (scrumptious) tip of the iceberg. Try their appetising Meen Pollichathu (fish grilled in a banana leaf), decadent pepper chicken cooked with pepper procured from their plantation, crisp dosas (savoury crépes), or the delectable ulli theeyal (shallot curry). Wash it all down with masala chai , tea spices with herbs from their own plantations. One thing’s for sure – you’ll definitely leave Shalimar Spice Garden with a mini food baby.
Visit Shalimar Spice Garden for a tranquil getaway in Thekkady. The property screams character – right from the bridge at the entrance to the hammocks by the pool and the swing in the compound. You will not be disappointed.
Fact File – Shalimar Spice Garden, Thekkady
- Shalimar Spice Garden is a perfect blend of modern luxury and tradition.
- The drive to the hotel is smooth. However the last 5-10 minutes are on a well marked but bumpy road.
- Shalimar Spice Garden provides a perfect base to explore Periyar National Park and its surroundings.
- We loved the luxurious cottages and opted for an ‘Elegant Room’. If you’re on your honeymoon, we would suggest upgrading to the ‘Honeymoon Cottage’, which comes with its private pool.
- Rooms start at £100/INR 10,500. You can book a room at Shalimar Spice Garden here
Spice Coast Cruises
When it comes to travel experiences in Kerala, few can rival the feeling of gliding through Kerala’s backwaters on a decadent houseboat. Be careful while choosing a houseboat for yourself. Most of the larger houseboats can house upto 20 people. They lack character and resemble modern boats. Try to choose a small and traditional houseboat for an archetypal South Indian experience.
We chose a private one-bedroom boat by Spice Coast Cruises. Their traditional houseboat is a work of art. It is crafted out of locally-produced materials such as coir and cane. But that’s not all. It boasts of creature comforts such as comfortable beds, power sockets, fans, and even an air-conditioner. There is a private chef on board the board and all meals are tailored to the guests’ preferences.
We spent the entire day sprawled on the lounging deck absorbing the sights and sounds of rural Kerala. Delicious hours were spent floating past villages, duck farms, and bustling marketplaces. We nibbled on grilled seafood and sipped on freshly-squeezed juices as we watched the day metamorphose into evening in front of our eyes. A fiery sunset over a tiny canal surrounded by palm trees – definitely the stuff of dreams. But the magic didn’t stop there. Soon, the sky was alight with twinkling stars. We lay there, hand in hand, staring at the starry sky, not wanting to retire for the night. Such was our rendezvous with a houseboat in Kerala – a romantic escapade like no other!
Fact File – Spice Coast Cruises, Kumarakom
- Spice Coast Cruises offers both one and two bedroom boats. We opted for the former.
- Boats boast of a private chef, elaborate 3 course meals, and frequent snacks and non-alcoholic drinks. You can carry your own alcohol.
- Power points, air conditioners, and fans are available on the boat.
- Take a book along as you will be lounging for long periods of time on the boat.
- People book houseboats for longer periods of time but we spent 1 night and 1 day on the boat and felt this was sufficient.
- The entire 1-bedroom boat can be rented at £300/INR 30,000. You can book Spice Coast Cruises here.
CGH Earth – Coconut Lagoon
I’ve been penning an article titled ’10 of our favourite hotels around the world’ for a while now but I’m so glad I did not press publish before visiting this gorgeous hotel in the backwaters of Kerala. So many of our readers suggested Coconut Lagoon Resort to us that we had to check it our for ourselves on our trip to Kerala. We parked our car at Kumarakom Jetty and hopped on a boat. 10 minutes later we floated through the hotel entrance, into the reception, where we were greeted by a flute player and fresh green coconuts. Talk about arriving in style!
This gorgeous property is spread over 30 acres of bridges, backwaters, and canals and it doesn’t feel like a hotel at all. Its unique setting – in one of the prettiest areas of India – is probably what prompted Conde Nast Traveller to include it in the top 25 getaways in the world. All bungalows, rooms, and villas at Coconut Lagoon are well integrated into the idyllic village-style setting. We chose one of their romantic pool villas facing the famed backwaters of Kerala. The pool villas are located in the quietest section of the hotel and afford great privacy. Each spacious villa boasts of a hammock, a luxurious private plunge pool, and a balcony overlooking a lagoon. The best part? You can sleep to the sound of waves lapping up against the shore.
Our days at Coconut Lagoon were spent admiring its architecture, going for nature walks around the property, indulging in morning yoga, photographing colourful birds in the neighbouring bird sanctuary, and sampling holistic Ayurvedic treatments at their traditional spa. On our last afternoon there, we booked a canoe ride and went floating through sylvan canals on a canoe. We wound down by sipping on tea served by a lady who comes by on a traditional boat every evening. It was soon time to leave but we just did not want to pack our belongings. At the end of 3 nights, both of us said goodbye to Coconut Lagoon with great reluctance.
Mark my words – we will be back at Coconut Lagoon Resort for a week soon. You heard it here first 😉
Fact File – CGH Earth Coconut Lagoon, Kumarakom
- CGH Earth Coconut Lagoon is one of the prettiest hotels we’ve ever stayed in (and we’ve stayed in a fair few hotels! 😉 ) and one of our favourite experiences on Plush Escapes.
- The hotel offers a thoroughly experiential stay and you don’t even need to leave your room to experience the majestic backwaters of Kerala.
- Don’t leave without sampling an Ayurvedic massage at the spa or a canoe ride in the vicinity of the hotel.
- Rooms start at £190/INR 17,500. You can book a room at CGH Earth Coconut Lagoon here
This romantic getaway gave us all kinds of fuzzies and we can’t wait to go back to Kerala and do it all over again 🙂
Planning a trip to Kerala? Read our itinerary for a road trip in Kerala
Love gorgeous hotels? Check out our favourite hotels from around the world
57 thoughts on “A romantic getaway in Kerala with Plush Escapes”
wow what a stunning place beautiful photos and you look like areal princess in the photos.
Thanks for that generous compliment Nayna – we discovered the most beautiful properties in Kerala and loved our time there 🙂
These photos are amazing, what a fabulous, romantic trip!! X
Thanks Becca – it was an unexpectedly lush getaway. Loved getting lost in the wilderness 🙂
Wow, I could just do with this…looks amazing. Such fab piccys 🙂 x
Thanks Melanie – it was quite the romantic getaway, so much so that we didn’t want to wake up and break the spell 🙂
Looks so private and romatic, I’d love to have a holiday like this x
Hey Rhian – this holiday was a dream come true. We loved it so much 🙂
Thank you for exploring such natural & romantic place. I am in the midst of planning a tour & this surely gonna help me.
Hey Mehul – hope you have an amazing time in Kerala. We are going to publish an itinerary soon – that should help you plan your trip properly 🙂
oh wow this looks like an amazing place, I need a holiday like this one day
Hey Melissa – hope you make it to Kerala sometime soon. I’m sure it’s an experience you won’t forget for a long, long time 🙂
Wow what an amazing trip! Your photos are incredible 🙂
Thanks Jemma – We always feel fortunate when we chance on accommodation that amplifies the experiential aspect of a holiday 🙂
I’m actually in Bangalore right now but I’ve heard Kerala is amazing!
Hope you’re having an amazing time in Bangalore Rebecca. The countryside of Kerala is so different from the hustle bustle of Bangalore – try to plan a getaway before you leave India 🙂
It look beautiful. So peaceful and serene. What a paradise. I’m so envious of you. xx
Thanks a ton Anna – we really loved our getaway in Kerala. It’s always amazing to chance on such great accommodation 🙂
What a beautiful location for a romantic escape! Kerala has so many wonderful hotels with fantastic amenities. As usual your pictures are just stunning!
Thanks a ton Sarah – Kerala truly has some gorgeous hotels 🙂
The coconut lagoon looks incredible and I love masala chai too. It looks like you were both treated like and kings and queens x
Coconut Lagoon was definitely our favourite hotel – we loved it so 🙂 As for masala chai – nom Ana 😉
oh my goodness what a beautiful romantic getaway!!! The houseboat looks amazing what stunning photos you got of your stay!
Thanks Francesca – I have to admit we just couldn’t stop photographing the houseboat. It had so much character and truly delivered an experience like no other.
All the photos were so amazing. Kerala is really god’s own country.
Thanks a ton 🙂 It truly is – Kerala’s panoramas blew our socks off.
Wow – goodness me, I can’t imagine! What a wonderful place! And your photographs are just beautiful x
Dear Ali Clifford, Kerala is very rightly described as God’s Own Country. The natural beauty is beyond belief and our trip there was just magical- we did not feel like leaving the place.
Looks absolutely stunning!
My dream is to get married in Kerala – any recommendations for resorts/hotels that would cater for such and even would be the best time of year.
We hear Coconut Lagoon Resort is extremely popular for weddings. Would recommend winter months (November-January) for an outdoor wedding in Kerala 🙂
Wow, I am absolutely blown away by your gorgeous photos. The Shalimar Spice Garden looks so beautiful. I’m super jealous!
Hey Tasmin – thanks a ton. It was such a unique experience to be staying in luxury amidst spice plantations and waking up to the chirping of birds every morning 🙂
You’ve literally just described my dream holiday. wow, so many experiences, how amazing! I’m going to have to make sure I check out Plush Escapes.
Hey there – I’m so glad you enjoyed reading this. Our holiday was quite the melange of sensory experiences and we loved every bit of it. Hope you find fun experiential stays on Plush Escapes too 🙂
I was talking to a lady just yesterday who was telling me how amazing Kerala is. From your pics, it definitely looks the stuff of fairytales! That chicken salad sounds incredible too!
What a coincidence Helen – we were completely awestruck by the natural beauty of Kerala 🙂
What an awesome experience. I love the thought of nature surrounding the place. Such a refreshing view it is! I hope I can visit that place too. I so love your pictures! Indeed a quality time for each ther.
Thanks Anosa – it’s always supremely rejuvenating to be in hotels surrounded by nature. I love it so 🙂
So far we’ve visited 40 countries and driven with zebras in South Africa, been caving in Austria, cavorted with bedouins in.
Thats so awesome dear Xem đê…may your travels keep happening and may you keep enjoying different places all over the globe:)
You guys are couple goals. I was planning a trip to Kerala and I saw this. Im gonna paste your plan for sure !
Thanks Nupur, we do try our best to give it in the best way possible to our readers…we are sure you will enjoy magical Kerala as much as we did:)
What an awesome experience. I hope I can visit that place too. I so love your pictures!
Dear vòng phong thủy mệnh kim, our trip to Kerala was indeed magical and you must try and visit the place-we are quite sure you will enjoy it as much as we did.
The coconut lagoon looks incredible and I love masala chai too. It looks like you were both treated like and kings and queens
Bella alice the coconut lagoon was actually amazing and we really enjoyed it…Kerala was magical in its beauty and charm and we loved being there 🙂
Scrumptious food with an ideal pool setting!
Keo bong da Kerala was indeed a very magical experience for us-and the food was actually delicious:)
awesome pics ..great work … inspiring
Thanks a lot Shweta 🙂
Woww! This just looks amazing. These photos looks so beautiful. I am planning to visit in this summer from mid July to end of August, and I was wondering where can we go for romantic and chilling holiday with my husband. I think I have kinda found the place. But I am not sure if july-August is a good time to visit Kerala as I don’t want it to be too warm!? Can you leave a suggestion whether it’s good time to visit Kerala? I am also leaving my options open for other places such as Sikkim, Ladakh, otty. Can you give any suggest which place to visit? I can visit more than one places if it can be done in 2weeks!
I believe July August is monsoon season in Kerala so it might not be warm but might be a bit too humid 🙂 Ladakh is a great option in July too 🙂
Lovely Pics..! I am very much inspired by you guys.. but I have a big question..How come You never repeat your outfits..?? Do those come for sale by any chance 😉
Hey I repeat clothes all the time as I have access only to the outfits in my suitcase – check out this article I wrote on repeating clothes and making them seem novel https://www.bruisedpassports.com/wears/5-packing-hacks-tips-travellers 🙂
How picture is so nice.
Thank you very much indeed.
Thank you for exploring such natural & romantic place