SIMPLE living with a generous dose of luxury and historic tidbits, The Old Harbour Hotel is certainly one of the best accommodation options in Fort Kochi, Kerala.
What makes it special?
Being the first hotel in this coastal town, it was built 300 years ago in a mix of Dutch and Portuguese architectural styles. What was once home to employees of English tea-broking firms was later refurbished by proprietor Edgar Pinto. With the help of German architect Karl Damschen, Edgar managed to preserve the historic past of Fort Kochi as well as added contemporary elements and modern amenities. The simple, whitewashed walls of this hotel together with retro furniture, huge French windows, and ancient telephones are remnants of the past. Many of the walls are splattered with vibrant paintings that indicate Edgar’s love for art.
Layers of green expanses dot the property with its presence in the many courtyards and the tropical garden that comes with a lily pond. Although it is located on the main road, it is relatively noise-free offering a tranquil space for those who seek peace and quiet. The food at their restaurant is really good. You’d rarely want to eat outside.
What to expect?
The service is excellent, and the staff is very attentive and well-trained. Aside from the many cultural performances by local musicians and dancers, they sometimes have live music in the evenings that you can savor with a drink or two. Since Kerala is known for its Ayurveda therapies, the hotel has a spa that provides a host of treatments by skilled therapists; treatments that you can request to avail of in your room. If you love eating fish, this is a great bet for you; as they serve a wide variety of fresh fish and curries being so close to the coast. While beer lovers can expect to guzzle down their favorite brew in prohibition-style teapots.
What is there to do?
Fort Kochi is home to the one-of-a-kind Chinese fishing nets operated by fishermen on a daily basis near Vasco da Gama Square. Make sure you take a look at these giant nets before you leave. Among other sightseeing options, there is the St. Francis Church, former resting ground of Vasco da Gama’s remains, the oldest Jewish Synagogue in India located in Jew Town, Mattancherry’s Palace Museum that have preserved vintage murals and other paraphernalia of the Rajas of Kochi, and the Santa Cruz Basilica for its daunting spires and artistic frescoes depicting the life of Christ. For shopaholics, the town is filled with apparel and curios alike. You can pick up spices like cardamom, cloves and pepper as souvenirs; being produced locally makes them a cheaper bargain. At the hotel, the infinity pool is rather inviting with a host of deck chairs around it. You can also enjoy a yoga lesson on the roof.
What’s the damage?
The tastefully decorated rooms are priced at Rs. 9,250 for a Superior Room and Rs. 15,950 for a suite. While the overall stay at the property is great, the price is a bit steep for the limited amenities. However, the impeccable personalized service and high quality of food can be deal breakers.