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India's Most Beautiful Boutique Hotels For Every Mood

The rhyming scheme of a hotel chain can be identified easily; it’s a pattern each member follows. There’s comfort in knowing that at any Westin in the world, The Heavenly Bed will be laid out in your room. You can count on Le Meridien to give you a little taste of the city with its signature eclair before you set out to discover it yourself. The hospitality fits like a glove and you can depend on it every single time.

Boutique hotels, though, have poetic license and they don’t follow the same set of rules. The world here is smaller, and more in sync with its roots, its history. It’s an intimate feeling—whether you’re staying at a wrinkled bungalow with its house pets, or an off-the-track treetop home in the forest—when the manager (sometimes, the owner) welcomes you personally, addressing you by your name. The architecture, the design elements, the food, and the wellness experiences borrow from the surroundings and each boutique hotel has a distinct personality.

So, this summer, trade off the electronic keycard for a conventional lock and key and open the door to a unique experience that cannot be recreated anywhere in the world.

When You’re Looking For Quiet Moments

Image Credits: Rare India
Image Credits: Rare India

With just five rooms, a riverfront pool, and a terraced garden, Windermere Riverhouse in Neriyamangalam, Kerala is the spot you want to reserve for a romantic interlude. The two-acre property, an hour-and-a-half from Kochi, is the shade of the banyan tree in the sweltering heat, an escape from the city and its incessant demands.

It’s the house you dream of in the sweet oblivion of a restful night. A two-storey home with just four rooms, opening up to manicured gardens, steps away from a river. A Colonial bungalow with terracotta tiles and handcrafted furniture, it is happy in its introverted setting, nestled amidst rubber plantations. The Periyar River brings birds and their chirpings, and you don’t mind waking up to their splash in the nature’s pool.

At Windermere, go for peaceful walks, take a dip into the riverfront pool, have home-cooked meals with fresh produce from the garden and the catch of the day, and ride into the sunset on a boat in the river.

Price: Starts at INR 11,808 per night
Book here

When You Want To Experience Culture

Image Credits: Rare India
Image Credits: Rare India

An hour from Coimbatore, Dvara Siruvani is an ode to Tamil Nadu with its restored furniture and local antiques of cultural importance. The beautiful dvaras (doors) have been sourced from traditional homes, and each has its own story. Walk through the central garden to the 10 cottages, sequestered on the foothills of the Western Ghats. These have been decorated singularly with handpicked murals and artefacts to give them a personality--the names are derived from native flowers. Choose between a mountain-view pool cottage with a private pool and sundeck, or a garden-view cottage with an antique wooden swing and an inner courtyard.

The in-house restaurant Aarogyam is known for its Chettinad cuisine; a must-try is the thali that gives you a taste of the region’s specialties. You can also enjoy continental dishes at the restaurant, or ask for an in-room barbeque. In addition, the property also has a spa and a recreation room. Hankering after more experiences? Go for nature walks, ride into sleepy villages on bicycles, or learn how to cook local delicacies.

Price: Starts at INR 5,000 per night
Book here

When You Want To Live In A Treehouse

Image Credits: Rare India
Image Credits: Rare India

Pepper Trail is set amidst a century-old spice and coffee plantation in Kerala. Here, you can stay in a colonial bungalow that houses two independent suites with en-suite bathrooms. Or, you can climb 40 feet for privacy and stay in one of the two treehouses built on jackfruit trees, where you can wake up to chirping birds and the aroma of coffee drifting through the air. A meandering wooden pathway brings you to a treehouse that features a bedroom with a four-poster bed, an en-suite bathroom, and indoor and outdoor living areas for you to enjoy your morning cuppa.

On the 200-acre plantation, witness the everyday life of a planter and get involved in it. You can go on nature walks and plantation tours with a naturalist, treat yourself to Kerala’s famous dishes at the Pavilion restaurant nestled in trees, take a coracle ride in the calm waters of the in-house reservoir, and indulge yourself with an Ayurvedic massage.

Price: Starts at 14,000 per night
Book here

When You Want A Wellness Break

Image Credits: SwaSwara
Image Credits: SwaSwara

Not just a yoga retreat, SwaSwara—a CGH Earth Experience—on Om Beach in Gokarna helps you find your balance, and work on the mind, body, and soul. Come here for a rejuvenating holiday—your itinerary will involve meditating on the hilltop with the sea breeze ruffling your hair; customised Ayurvedic treatments; vegetarian meals prepared with fresh, healthy ingredients from the gardens; and sculpting, painting and clay modeling. From a three-night wellbeing programme to a 21-night cleanse and detox programme, you can pick a plan that suits your needs. Remember: This is a sanctuary of wellbeing with intense plans that can help you lead a healthier life.

SwaSwara is earthy and natural with lots of sunlight pouring in. The stone architecture blends in with the surroundings; there are medicinal plants peppered around the property, and there is no water wastage. The 24 Konkon villas offer privacy in their simplistic setting—green and open spaces open to nature, open-sky bathrooms and private courtyards.

Price: Starts at INR 51,000 for three nights
Book here

When You Want To Experience The Not-So-Usual

Image Credits: The Postcard Moira
Image Credits: The Postcard Moira

Away from the (now) crowded beaches and clubs, The Postcard Moira is a 214-year-old ancestral home in a quiet Goan village. It doesn’t get more intimate than this nine-room property on a lush estate, renovated to host guests who are looking for a quaint setting. Settle yourself into the spacious Moira Suite (which has wooden furnishings including a four-poster bed), and listen to the bird song while reading a book in the balcony.

Hotelier Kapil Chopra introduced the brand last year after spending decades in the hospitality industry to bring transformative travel to the forefront. No check-in and check-out schedules, no croissant for breakfast and no loyalty programmes—the trademarks of a hotel are intentionally penciled out and instead, on offer are homegrown experiences for urban travellers. Start with local delicacies (chorizo sausages and pork vindaloo) and swap the mug of beer for a glass of Feni. Anju, a village woman working with The Postcard, can whip never-tried-before dishes including solachi kadi and rava fried banana snack. Go bird watching or take surfing lessons in the Arabian Sea and explore the tiny hamlets and heritage villages on a bicycle--this is Goa unexpected.

Price: Starts at INR Rs 16,000 per night
Book here

Featured Image: Pepper Trail

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