Today, our ‘My Favourite Hotel’ review is from Kerala in India.
Due to a continued strong response from readers, we are running another batch of ‘My Favourite Hotel’ reviews over the next few weeks. This time we wanted to hear about your ‘unique’ experiences and we’ve once again received a great amount of suggestions. Hopefully you will enjoy reading these reviews. As always you can find all of the ‘My Favourite Hotel’ reviews by clicking here.
Today’s hotel is Our Land Island Backwater Resort in South India
Here is reader Simon’s review:
Our Land Resort in the depths of the Kerala backwaters is by far my favourite hotel. I stayed there in February 2014 when my wife and I unexpectedly met up with my brother and sister-in-law during a trip to South India.
Despite our trip containing a magnificent stay in a glorious luxury suite overlooking the Queen’s Necklace in Mumbai as well as a modern sea view villa with Mamallapuram’s famous Shore Temple in the distance, the one place we still keep talking about was the simple yet special offering at Our Land in Alleppey. The most elaborate routine on show would come from the wildlife and a multi-starred dining experience meant looking skyward from your plate at dinner time.
Our Land resort is set on a small island on the Pamba River in Alleppey and was once a bandit’s hideout. Nowadays it is a small ecologically friendly resort with five traditionally furnished rooms, a tree house, and a houseboat.
We were promptly collected from Alleppey train station with our friendly driver confidently picking us out from the gaggle of departing passengers. It was a short drive along the palm lined streets to the riverside and from there we were rowed across to the resort in a large canoe.
At first we were nervous about how the slightly rickety looking vessel and its somewhat elderly looking navigator would get the four of us plus our luggage across in one piece. We needn’t have worried and by the time our stay was over we’d got quite used to rowing or being rowed around in these surprisingly stable canoes.
Once we arrived on dry land, we were shown to our bungalow which was split into two separate rooms that the four of us shared.
The rooms were simple whitewashed affairs, with a basic bathroom, large comfortable beds (though slightly hard as is normal in many Indian lodgings).
The locally made hardwood furniture and doors added to that typical South Indian feel. In front of our rooms was a small veranda with a table and chairs for entertaining as well as a hammock in case you felt like getting in some extra rest. From our bungalow we had the perfect view to watch the world flow gently by on the river without having to go anywhere ourselves.
Food and drink
One of the highlights of our stay at Our Land was the delicious food on offer. The resort is full board and each day we enjoyed a delicious feast of South Indian food. All the meals are freshly made, with many of the fruits and vegetables grown on the island and the rest purchased daily from the local village market. There were several dishes and ingredients we got to try that I’ve sadly never seen again since.
Breakfasts contained the usual South Indian suspects of plentiful piles of puris, stacks of idlies and delicious dosas with an assortment of curries and condiments as well as buttered toast and a deliciously sweet pineapple jam.
On our last morning, Madhu the owner cooked up one of his own specialities, adda, which was a cylindrical idli made from a combination of flour, shredded coconut, banana and jaggery, flavoured with cardamom. The mixture was steamed and fried, and looked somewhat like a thick rice pudding wrapped in banana leaves – and was utterly delicious.
Lunches and dinners consisted of either fresh caught and grilled fish or a chicken curry with various vegetable accompaniments, rice dishes, Indian breads and popadoms.
Whilst only soft drinks are available on the island you are more than welcome to bring your own alcoholic beverages.
The staff were also keen for guests to do a behind the scenes look at the kitchen if the culinary arts were their cup of tea. One of my only regrets from our stay was not to ask for a cooking lesson or two.
So other than relaxing in your hammock, with the regular chug of the houseboats passing slowly by and being served a multi-course feast with reassuring regularity what else is there to do on a bandit’s island?
The simple answer is exploring! The staff offered a number of complimentary local excursions including bird watching at sunrise and sunset. The resident twitcher who ran the activity claimed to have spotted over 106 different species of birds in the area during his time working at the resort. Even our amateur eyes spotted at least 10 different species on our morning tour along the palm lined canals and luscious green rice paddies.
One of the advantages of touring this area by foot and canoe is how close you can get to even the shyest of creatures. The larger houseboats would scare them off long before you even caught a glimpse of them.
In addition to the bird watching the staff would happily take you to visit a local village, or better still take you out on the river to enjoy a spectacular sunset with just the local fishermen for company.
If you still need more action in your life, then there is a selection of several traditional Indian board games you can take back to your room and play which we certainly did. If you need more relaxation, massages and Ayurvedic treatments can be arranged for an additional charge, though this was not something we felt we needed to take up.
I hope one day soon we can return to India. As much as I’m excited about trying out yet another luxurious five star hotel I also hope to return to Our Land. The simple things are done well without harming the environment or negatively impacting on local life and service comes with a smile straight from the heart. Rooms start from £69 per night.
The resort’s website is here if you want to find out more.