We have been curating some of our favourite Hilton Honors experiences in Asia Pacific this year. But our penultimate experience made us see Goa in a whole new light.
On all our previous trips to Goa, we’ve stayed by the beach. Then there was this one time we stayed in a beautiful apartment in Siolim , ten minutes from the beach. But this time we visited Goa during the monsoon season and explored its interiors – and may I add we left completely spellbound. Let us give you an insight into the highlights of the week – from kayaking in the mangroves to visiting local bakers – these are experiences you need to put on your itinerary for your next trip in Goa 🙂
I should point our that if you’re a Hilton Honors member, you can bid for this experience in Goa using just your Hilton Honors points and if you win the auction, you can savour this entire Hilton Honors Experience for free. Even sightseeing, transfers, and meals are included, so you don’t have to spend a penny from your pocket.It’s free to sign up to Hilton Honors and we highly recommend it, especially if you travel frequently. If you’re not a Hilton Honors member yet, we’d strongly encourage you to sign-up (it’s free). We’ve been members for 11 years now and enjoy the rewards that come with the membership.
If you do win the auction, then you won’t get an ordinary room at the hotel. You’ll get the presidential suite at DoubleTree By Hilton Goa Panaji. Most rooms and suites at this hotel offer glorious views but we would recommend a pool facing room, overlooking the Mandovi River and the surrounding mangroves. Of course, the presidential suite takes it up a notch because it offers guests a huge dining area, spacious bedroom, and large seating area with floor to ceiling windows. But that’s not even the best part! It also comes with a private terrace, equipped with a jacuzzi and lounging area. We won’t blame you if you want to order room service and just never leave.
But leave you must because there are lots of little local experiences in the area that you must experience for yourself.
Spend one morning biking around Goa on electric bikes with B Live – the company offers a range of fascinating bike tours and the hotel will help you pick one that suits your preferences. There are various tours available but we would highly recommend opting for the half-day tour to Divar Island. We’ve spoken about the gem that is Divar Island before as well. It is minutes away from mainland Goa but it seems as if you’ve travelled back in time. Pick up your bikes and take the free public ferry to the island along with your tour guide. Spend the day biking to little-known historical sites, enjoying winding roads and Divar Island’s old world charm. If you’re in the mood to work up a sweat, then make sure you bike to the hilltop cathedral as well.
And if you really enjoy getting to know the nooks & crannies of places, then drop by an old-school bakery to see the poder (baker) dishing up Goan breads on your way back. There are very few traditional bakeries left in Goa and breads get sold out almost as soon as they come out of the oven. The smell of freshly-baked bread ensures this simple exercise is quite an experience in itself. The hotel’s reception can help arrange a visit as Panaji has some of these hole-in-the-wall bakeries.
Once you’re back, spend a relaxing evening at the hotel’s infinity pool. It is a popular spot to watch the sun go down, so it does get busy during evenings. If you want to escape the crowds, then head to Rio Salao – the hotel’s café which offers a similar view. Watch sunset as you sip on a cuppa. If coffee is not your thing and you want a dash of local flavour, then head to the courtyard of the hotel. Every evening, the hotel sets up a tea stall which doles out fresh snacks – everything from cookies to pakoras (savoury fritters) are on the menu. Sip on masala chai as you hatch out dinner plans.
As part of this experience the guests also get to find out more about the history of Goan Port wine and get to sample some of the local favourites. Great to work up an apetite ;-). You could drop by the hotel’s buffet restaurant – Comida. It offers an exceptional selection of local delicacies and continental fare. Don’t leave without trying their desserts. But if you enjoy spicy and flavourful food, then we would suggest a meal at Feliz, the hotel’s al-fresco restaurant that serves Mangalorean and Goan fare. Even better, try cooking up a storm with the restaurant chef one evening as he guides you to prepare a scrumptious local dish – we tried our hands at Prawn curry and were quite pleased with how it turned out!!
You can fill your days with activities such as kayaking in the mangroves or even sailing (available by special request). But we would recommend dedicating one whole day to Old Goa and Goa’s Latin Quarter Fontainhas – the decrepit churches of Old Goa have a charm entirely their own. Make sure you drop by Bishop’s Palace in the area. Spend the afternoon strolling in the by-lanes of Fontainhas. Here you will find independent boutiques, art galleries, and bakeries jostling for attention. Viva Panjim is one of the most popular restaurants in the area – and with good reason. Food is great but its their iconic Bebinca (Goan layered dessert) which is truly scrumptious.
On our last night at the property, we were surprised by the hotel staff with an elaborate dinner setup on our private terrace. Think scrumptious food and wine, followed by the most decadent tiramisu. While a clear sky would have ensured a star-studded view, the sound of the falling rain made this experience even more special. On our last day, before check-out, we both indulged in a 90 minute massage at their beautiful spa – the perfect way to end this Hilton Honors experience in one of our favourite places in India!!
This Goan getaway has a smattering of bakeries, desserts, good views, and the Mandovi river. It is packed with local experiences in a peaceful corner of Goa that you just won’t feel like leaving. What’s more, a new Hilton Resort is coming up in Goa too (surrounded by rice paddies :-)). But if you feel like heading to the beach or you want to go shopping, then read all our suggestions and offbeat tips in this article on Goa.
Travelling in India? Read all our articles on India here
Want to book a stay at DoubleTree Goa – compare prices here