Proof you can still get away from it all, Cabo Serai perches on a forested hillside above a beautiful stretch of cream sands in serene South Goa, its thatched cottages and communal areas camouflaged among the canopy. This coastal retreat is made up of just seven cottages and luxury tents. The bar and restaurant sit beside reception in an open-sided pavilion, and there are yoga shalas beside the shore and on a panoramic perch uphill. Beyond that, blissful days at the beach, wanders along forest trails and moonlit suppers make this coastal Indian escape a seductive space for simple pleasures.
11am, but guaranteed late check-out is available for a fee. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £87.60 (INR8,849), including tax at 18 per cent.
Rates include a traditional South Indian breakfast.
There are a reported 85 species of birds making their homes in the jungle around Cabo Serai. You can ask for a hotel guide to take you out bird-watching, or venture out solo, binoculars in tow.
At the hotel
Yoga shalas. In rooms: free WiFi, minibar, free bottled water, tea- and coffee-making kit and bespoke Cabo Serai bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Tree-shrouded privacy, spacious terraces and sea views mean that both tents and cottages are sure to please… But cottages edge ahead on character and creature comforts – sturdier and wood-lined with veranda sofas and/or floor cushions, and slightly smarter ensuite bathrooms.
There’s no dedicated spa, but the hotel can organise a wellness programme, including Ayurvedic treatments, as well as yoga sessions.
Beachwear, naturally. And, because this is a hotel of many buildings, where you’re indoors and out, back-door shoes or grippy flip-flops made for walking.
If navigating the hotel’s hillside paths is a challenge, you can get around the grounds by chauffeured golf buggy.
All ages are welcome, but hilly terrain means Cabo Serai is best suited to over-6s. Up to two extra beds or cots (free of charge) can be added to cottages, and there’s room for one extra bed in a Luxury Tent.
Cabo Serai was built on the premise of sustainability, using local tradespeople, planet-friendly materials and decor from Goan craftspeople. A farm-to-fork approach to dining means the hotel uses as much seasonal, organic produce from its own garden and local suppliers as possible. Cabo Serai bath products originate in Goa, and hotel cleaning products are eco-friendly where possible.
Each table enjoys sea glimpses and a fine breeze, though those around the edges best lend themselves to uninterrupted conversation (and views). With a little notice, you can take this to its apotheosis and request a table under the stars.
Take your lead from the hotel staff – there is no dress code. Floaty bohemian dresses and loose linened tailoring are as smart as you need to go.
The open-sided pavilion is a fine breeze-tickled spot to enjoy seasonal, organic food, sourced locally where possible, with just-picked produce from Cabo Serai’s garden. With the Arabian Sea as your soundtrack to supper, seafood is the way to go. For those after a holistic approach to wellbeing, the kitchen can tailor dishes to follow a Sattvik diet.
Drinks are served at the far end of the dining pavilion during restaurant hours, as well as late afternoon. This hillside perch is in pole position for spectacular sunsets – your cue for cocktail hour on the adjoining open-air terrace.
Dinner is available from 7pm to 10pm; breakfast is from 7am to 10.30am.
Just inland from Cabo de Rama Beach, Cabo Serai is in South Goa, near Canaguinim.
Fly to Mumbai or Delhi, then board a domestic flight to Goa International Airport, from where it’s just over 50 kilometres to the hotel. The journey should take an hour and 45 minutes.
The Konkan Railway links South Goa with Mumbai. Madgaon, 45 minutes away by car, is the nearest station to Cabo Serai – the hotel can organise transfers for 2,500 rupees.
You’re better off taking a taxi from the airport rather than driving yourself. Roads are rural and often unsealed, and driving in India has a deservedly infamous reputation. Car-rental options, if you’re undeterred, include vehicles with air-con and even drivers, on the condition you travel a minimum distance each day.
Worth getting out of bed for
South Goa enchants with serene stretches of white-sand beaches, lined with coconut trees bowing towards the clear Arabian Sea. Cabo de Rama – a 10-minute walk from the hotel – is a postcard-worthy example. Cabo Serai has a yoga shala in a coconut grove by the beach. Back up the hill, forest trails take you past winding streams, cool woods and hidden caves, providing ample opportunities for bird-watching along the way. Chef willpack you a picnic should you wish to make a day of it. And all that before you’ve even left the hotel boundaries…
Crowning the cliffs above Cabo de Rama Beach, Cabo de Rama Fort is where Goa’s seafaring history comes to life. At this centuries-old colonial survivor, originally built as a coastal defence by the Soonda people, it pays to time your visit to coincide with sunset. In nearby Nuvem, explore the Shree Krishna Temple and the iced-cake-ornate Catholic church.
When you need a change of pace, fishing village turned vibrant resort Agonda is a short drive away. Lined by brightly coloured beach huts, Agonda Beach’s broad almond sands draw olive ridley turtles as well as tourists, and there are a handful of shops and cafés to pop into.