Classic Kerala: beaches and backwaters

Classic Kerala: beaches and backwaters

Exploring South India

Stay at a bliss-inducing beach retreat in the Malabar and a wellness resort on the southern coast, then meander through Kerala's backwaters on a houseboat. Days are spent sunning and sailing, with a few added Ayurvedic spa sessions and history lessons thrown in for good measure.

This trip through India's lush, leafy south can be tailored to your tastes, whether you'd like a few more nights in one spot, a room upgrade, or a little something special.

This nine-night trip is £1,390 a person (approximately 1,777 USD), based on two guests sharing.*

To kick off your trip, contact the Smith24 team around the clock on:
+44 (0)330 100 3180 from the UK,
+1 800 464 2040 from the US.

 

Submit an enquiry

Highlights

Highlights

  • Stay in the best Mr & Mrs Smith luxury and boutique hotels
  • Mind-and-body-alleviating Ayurvedic treatments
  • Glide through the backwaters on a traditional Keralan houseboat
  • See the iconic Chinese fishing nets silhouetted against a pink-and-purple sunset
  • Stay in Victorian splendour at Brunton Boatyard

 

Need to know

Need to know

When to go
The south has two monsoon seasons, beginning in June and mid-October; these aren’t unpleasant times to visit – temperatures stay in the sultry late-20s and the greenery is abundant, but for just-right tropical temperatures, visit from November to March.

Getting there
You need to book flights to Cochin International Airport (or have the Smith24 team book them for you; call 03334 145 550); from London, arrive here via Dubai; from the US, arrive via Abu Dhabi, Delhi or Mumbai. Several carriers run frequent internal flights from Delhi (three hours) or Mumbai (two hours). Inland travel on your trip is by rail or private, air-conditioned minivan (with a friendly, English-speaking chauffeur). The trip ends at Mangalore Airport, from which you can fly back to Delhi and Mumbai or on to your next destination.

Packing tips

  • Breezy linen clothing
  • A temple cover-up
  • A hand-fan for keeping cool in style

Day 1–4: Marari

The Malabar region, by India’s south-west shore, lucked out when it comes to coastal beauty. Your home for three nights is coastal stay Marari Beach Resort, which stretches out alongside an expanse of soft, alabaster sand, running between coconut groves and the deep-blue waters of the Arabian Sea. 

Your hotel…

Your hotel…

And, relax… Your first stylish stop is a garden-set thatched villa at Marari Beach Resort, for a three-night stay. Days here idle along by the coconut-palm-decorated estate’s glorious stretch of sand.

Smith Extra A two-for-one dinner in the hotel's main restaurant on one night of your stay

Day 1: After your plane touches down in Cochin, a personal driver will whisk you – in air-conditioned comfort – to the coast (a two-hour journey) for your check in at Marari Beach Resort. Plane-weary travellers can spend the remainder of the day at rest, or, you can borrow a bike. Cycle to Mararikulam village to pick up essentials from pungent spice stalls or try a shot of potent coconut toddy – a heady alcoholic brew distilled from coconut flowers.

Day 2: Guests choose how they’d like to spend their day at the resort, and no-one will pelt you with coconuts if you spend all day flopped on the sands or swinging in a hammock. However, the Ayurvedic Centre’s Keralan massages are well worth investigating.

Day 3: Spend the day exploring your surroundings. Marari offers myriad pastimes: watch fishermen cast their nets, play tennis or get all a’flutter in the hotel's Butterfly Garden. Achieve a supple frame in the yoga studio – the resort’s teacher is highly renowned – or learn how to cook local specialities in the farm kitchen.

Day 4: Today, you'll roll up your beach towel and dust the sand from your flip-flops in readiness for your departure to Cochin. 

Day 4–6: Cochin

The next leg of your journey is through lush jungly terrain to Brunton Boatyard in Cochin. This historic stay has upcycled a 19th-century shipbuilding yard, primping its elegant white buildings back to their former elegance and furnishing them with antiques. It’s like stepping back in time, but taking modern fine dining and free WiFi with you.
 

The hotel’s a fitting amuse bouche for historic Cochin, which is positioned between the south’s famed backwaters and the Arabian Sea.

Your hotel…

Your hotel…

You’ll quantum leap back to Victorian times at Brunton Boatyard, which houses a tea house, billiards table, Ayurvedic centre and a bar ripped from the pages of an Agatha Christie thriller.

Smith Extra Two-for-one dinner in the main restaurant

Day 4: The drive from Marari Beach Resort to Cochin takes around two hours, As such, you'll have plenty of time to settle into your ship-shape new digs before touring of the backstreets of Fort Cochin with a private guide. Along the way, you'll stop by the waterfront to see the iconic Chinese fishing nets as the sun sets into the Arabian Sea. 

Day 5: Today you'll take a peek into Cochin's past… A knowledgeable private guide will introduce you to the Keralan city. In Jew Town on Mattancherry, you'll stop by charming, chandelier-hung Paradesi Synagogue, before heading to the Dutch Palace (actually built by the Portuguese) to admire its fine Keralan artwork.

Fort Cochin, north of Mattancherry, has grand British townhouses, Dutch cottages, and the oldest European church outside the Continent, 16th-century St Francis Church. Before heading back to the hotel, you'll get another chance to explore.

Day 6: Today you disembark Brunton Boatyard for (much) greener pastures at wellness retreat Neeleshwar Hermitage. You'll be driven to Ernakulam Junction to board a first-class carriage on the Ernad Express train; the journey takes around seven hours.

Day 6–9: Neeleshwar and the Backwaters

On arrival at Neeleshwar Station, you’ll be escorted in a private minivan to chilled-out Keralan stay Neeleshwar Hermitage. This retreat has bagged itself a prime spot on the south-west coast, at the northern tip of the backwaters’ brackish lagoons, overlooking the Laccadive Sea.

 

Your hotel…

Your hotel…

Neeleshwar Hermitage, a welcoming retreat by the backwaters – built according to Ayurvedic principles – has traditional stand-alone cottages in a peaceful palm grove.

Smith Extra A bottle of wine in your room on arrival and a 30-minute boat ride on the backwaters 

Day 6–8: You’ll spend three nights here, so use the time to attend a free yoga session, book an Ayurvedic consultation or simply rejig your prana (cosmic energy). The Priya Spa is manned by local hires and has 20 body-and soul-restoring treatments on offer. The hotel also has a huge pool and direct access to the quiet sandy shoreline.

Day 9: Neeleshwar Hermitage runs a modernised kettuvallam – a traditional thatched houseboat –  dubbed The Lotus, for drifting lazily along Kerala’s backwaters. Cruise through the densely tree-lined canals and lagoons before snoozing in one of two elegant cabins for one night. Bedecked with local wooden furnishings and sari silks, each bedroom has a private balcony, or you can request a table on the roof terrace for sunset cocktails and a freshly-caught meal.

Day 10: When the Lotus docks, you’ll be driven to Mangalore Airport to fly home or on to your next destination.

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Terms and conditions

Fallen for South India's myriad charms? You may be equally captivated by Rajasthan's desert vistas or the bijou villags of the Himalayas… Be inspired by our collection of luxury trips in India.

*This includes accommodation in all Mr & Mrs Smith boutique hotels, transportation in an air-conditioned minivan with a driver), entry fees, local guides, and all applicable taxes.

Not included in your package

  • International flights, visa fees, airport taxes or insurance.
  • Any items which are not mentioned as ‘included’ in the itinerary.
  • Any increase in government taxes.

General conditions

  • The price for this itinerary applies for each guest.
  • (All prices are in GBP and are subject to change, depending on what time of the year you travel.)
  • The given price is not valid if travelling during the festive season, including Christmas and New Year (16 December to 15 January).
  • All prices are subject to any revisions to taxes or tariffs.
  • From December to January, fog may delay flight and train departures in North India.
  • Domestic airfare charges will be finalised depending on the date of travel. Each passenger on the economy-class flight has a check luggage allowance of up to 15 kilogrammes, and a carry-on allowance of seven kilogrammes.
  • All flight and train timings are based on the current schedule and are subject to change.
  • Please note that foreign visitors to India require a visa in advance of arrival in the country.

Closures

In Cochin, the Paradesi Synagogue will be open each Friday from 10am to 1pm and is closed all day Saturday. The Dutch Palace is closed on Fridays.

  • Best-price guarantee

    Found your stay cheaper elsewhere? We’ll match the price and give you a $75 voucher.

  • Smith Extra on arrival

    Enjoy extras such as a picnic lunch, champagne or spa treatments, on the house