During my time traveling around Kerala, I visited well over 20 hotels and have seen some quite unique places to stay in this part of India.
What I want to share with you here are my favorite hotels to give you an idea of where to stay in Kerala. I was fortunate enough to see a very wide range of hotels. From unique to luxury and eco-friendly. So I hope this list offers something for any type of traveler.
Where to Stay in Kerala
1. Spice Village – Thekkady
I wanted to start my list of hotels in Kerala with Spice Village not because it’s the best hotel in Kerala but because it’s the most eco-friendly hotel I have seen in Kerala.
Spice Village is created to look like what the tribal villages of the local Manan tribe looked like. With a lot more luxury and comforts that is, but it creates a great atmosphere and makes this quite a unique hotel in Kerala.
And what for me gives Spice Village even more value is the fact that it truly is an eco-friendly resort. For starters, they offer reusable glass bottles and reusable shampoo bottles in the room instead of plastic. But it goes much further than that. They use reclaimed wood for their furniture and use solar panels for most of their energy. They get most of their fruit, vegetables and spices from their own organic garden, and their food waste is used as compost. Plus they don’t offer air conditioning (but it really isn’t that hot in this part of Kerala) and they even have a paper making center, where they make paper out of old newspapers and magazines!
The food at Spice Village is delicious, they have a nice swimming pool, an Ayurveda center, and friendly staff. The cottages you stay in are comfortable and the whole resort has a very peaceful vibe. It’s a great place to relax and get away from it all!
Tip: the hotel is perfectly located if you plan to visit the Periyar Tiger Reserve.
Note: if you want to stay in this area but are looking for a bit more luxury, also check out Kofiland Resort. I did not stay at this resort but several of the people I traveled with did, and they all loved it. Plus the resort has cool looking bungalows on stilts!
2. Lake Palace – Thekkady
If you want to get away from it all, Lake Palace might be the place for you!
Lake Palace is one of the former summer palaces of the King of Travancore, located on an island in the middle of the Periyar Lake. With its antique interior, it looks as if not much has changed since the palace was turned into a resort, which gives it that old world charm.
It takes about 20 minutes by boat to get to this small, 6 room resort. And because it is located inside the Periyar Tiger Reserve, you might just be lucky enough to see a herd of elephants hanging around the lake. Go on a trek to explore more of the reserve or simply enjoy the peace and quiet on this island.
Because it is such a small and quiet resort on a private island I wouldn’t recommend spending more than a couple of nights here. But it is definitely a unique place to stay in Kerala and you will get a better understanding of how the British rulers used to escape the heat.
3. Vythiri Resort – Wayanad
As I mention in my article about why you should visit Kerala, Kerala’s nature is incredible and that’s one of the main reasons people come to this part of India.
Therefore I think picking hotels or resorts that are surrounded by Kerala’s stunning nature are the best way to enjoy this state. And that’s exactly why Vythiri Resort is one of my favorite resorts in Kerala.
First of all the resort is located in Wayanad, which is one of my favorite parts of Kerala because of its unspoiled nature and slightly cooler climate. And on top of that, the resort is set in a lush tropical rainforest with monkeys welcoming you whenever you leave your room!
You can choose to stay in a cute cottage, a villa with private pool or in one of their treehouses. Their spa is great, they have a pool, good food, and friendly staff.
This is a great place from which to explore the wildlife sanctuaries in the region, go hiking, or check out nearby Pookode Lake. If you would ask me where to stay in Kerala, this is definitely one of the first places that come to mind!
Tip: if you are looking for even more luxury, check out Vythiri Village, a five-star luxury resort in the same area.
4. Go Camping
Camping in Kerala was one of my favorite experiences. Sitting around a campfire at night and waking up to the sounds of nature in the morning… Perfect!
There are many river camps and mountain camps to choose from, and many will combine it with a trek through nature. We stayed at Kalypso Camp (see the map at the end of this article), but there are many different camping options in Kerala.
Camping can range from very simple tents to glamping in luxury. Whatever fits your needs and budget! Booking.com offers a good selection of options.
5. Stay on a Houseboat on Kerala’s Backwaters
When you visit Kerala you really can’t miss the beautiful backwaters.
Picture a vast network of canals, lakes, and rivers surrounded by lush greenery with local houses dotted along the riverbeds. Spending the night on a houseboat in these backwaters has become one of the most popular things to do in Kerala.
Large kettuvallams (traditional boats, originally used to transport fish, rice and spices) have been converted into houseboats ranging from relatively simple to very luxurious.
I stayed on one of Rainbow Cruises’ houseboats. We boarded the boat in the afternoon, cruised around the area for a few hours until we docked for the night and were served a delicious meal on the boat. It’s a very relaxing experience and a great way to see a part of the backwaters.
If you are short on time you can opt for just a day cruise or you can stay on board several days to cover more distance.
Houseboats are available at Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kottayam, Allappuzha, Ernakulam, Thrissur, and Kasaragod. And these days there are more than 1500 houseboats to choose from in Kerala!
Note: I loved exploring the backwaters on a houseboat. Unfortunately, shortly after my trip, I learned about some of the negative effects this type of tourism is having.
Many locals depend on the marine environment for their livelihoods and well-being. They fish, they use the water for rice farming, to wash their clothes, to cook, and to bathe.
The polluting diesel engines on these houseboats and the growing number of them, have polluted the water in many places. Depleted fish stocks and boatmen who discharge human and other waste directly into the lake rather than pay to dispose of it properly, are causing big issues for the local population.
So as long as there are no solar powered houseboats, this can’t be called sustainable tourism. If you visit Kerala’s backwaters and decide not to stay on these houseboats, I would recommend staying in a nearby hotel or homestay (see below for options) and renting a non-motorized boat or bicycle to explore the area (we went kayaking, which was great fun!).
6. Grand Hyatt Kochi Bolgatty – Kochi
The Grand Hyatt Kochi Bolgatty is the place to be if you are looking for a luxury hotel in Kochi.
It’s a luxurious, modern, waterfront resort with 264 spacious rooms, an indoor and outdoor pool and all the facilities you expect from a Grand Hyatt. Some of the best food I have had in Kerala was at this resort and I loved the friendly staff.
Yes, it might be splurging a bit, but I can highly recommend this resort as one of the best luxury resorts in Kerala!
If you are flying in and out of Kerala you are very likely to either arrive in Kochi or leave from Kochi. The Grand Hyatt then is a great choice for a luxurious start and/or end of your trip to Kerala.
7. The Raviz Resort & Spa Ashtamudi – Kollam
If you are looking for a resort to relax at that is close to a city, beaches and Kerala’s famous backwaters, then the Raviz Resort & Spa Ashtamudi is a great choice.
The resort is located just outside of Kollam, which for me was perfect: it’s a short taxi or rickshaw ride into the city, but far enough away to not feel as if you are staying in a busy Indian city.
The resort is set on the Ashtamudi Lake and offers rooms with great views, a beautiful pool, and a great spa. It’s a popular place to stay in Kerala for honeymooners and offers good value for money.
Tip: the first week of November the Ashtamudi Lake transforms into a venue for a traditional snake boat race – the President’s Trophy Boat Race, with the resort as a backdrop.
8. The Leela – Kovalam
Are you planning a luxury trip to Kerala? Then definitely check out the Leela.
This 5-star beach resort is located in a cute coastal town with a very laid back feel. The resort has a beautiful infinity pool and a great sky bar.
Tip: if you are flying into or out of Trivandrum Airport and don’t feel like staying in Trivandrum, the Leela is a good high-end hotel option. It’s located only about a 30 minutes drive from the airport.
Homestays in Kerala – An Alternative to Hotels
In all honesty, I wish I knew more about homestays in Kerala.
One of the reasons why I was looking forward to traveling to Kerala was because I had heard great things about Kerala’s sustainable tourism efforts. And as much as I enjoyed staying at a range of Kerala’s luxury hotels, most were either owned by rich Indian families or part of international chains, which makes me wonder how much money actually ends up with the local community.When I recently traveled around Sri Lanka I really enjoyed staying at homestays: local families who added a few rooms to their house or built a couple of cottages in their back yard to host travelers. It was a more local experience and it gave me the opportunity to have some great conversations with local families and eat some delicious home cooked meals.
I was hoping for that same homestay experience in Kerala. Unfortunately, the few homestays I came to know in Kerala all seemed to be owned by much wealthier Indians and felt more like B&B’s or boutique hotels than the homestay experience I was hoping for.
That being said, I only saw a few homestays in Kerala, so there might be different options. And even though the ones I visited were different from what I hoped, the B&B or boutique hotel experience is still a great one and you would hope your money is more likely to end up staying in the community than if you choose to stay in an international hotel.
In short, I would definitely recommend trying a homestay in Kerala. I would choose smaller places and read reviews from other travelers to see if it’s the type of homestay you would enjoy.
Map of Where to Stay in Kerala
- Why Visit Kerala? Even if You Don’t Think You’ll Like India!
- Best Places to Visit & Things to Do in Kerala
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- Traveling to Madurai, Tamil Nadu – What to See & Do
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Disclaimer: I want to thank the Kerala tourism board for inviting me to travel to Kerala and see so many different hotels in Kerala. Although my hotel stays were sponsored by them, of course all opinions shared here are my own.
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