Hilltop hideaway Kahani Paradise is a few hours’ drive south of Goa, in the Indian state of Karnataka. Gokarna, the nearest town, is a hippie-favoured hideout that offers spiritual soul-searchers a taste of what its northerly neighbour might have been like way back when (the Seventies). The purpose-built residence is the realised dream of a British family, with Rajasthani doors, beamed ceilings and artful arches and antiques adding a little subcontinental spice. The boutique bolthole has just six suites, so you’ll get to know your fellow guests over communal curries, sundowners by the pool and turns of the 20-acre estate.
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 1pm, also flexible.
Double rooms from £294.46 (INR29,500), including tax at 18 per cent.
Rates usually include breakfast and dinner.
This homely hideaway was built as a family retreat, and it shows in the heartfelt interiors: the owners still come and stay, and groups can hire it out as a whole.
The hotel closes for the month of May.
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout, badminton, croquet, bicycles to borrow, hotel Jeep and boat. In rooms: iPod dock, air-conditioning, free bottled water, tea and coffee, and Ayca bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Each of the six suites has admirable qualities, whether it’s perfectly positioned antiques, walls of windows or elaborately beamed ceilings – but we especially loved the Palace Suite, for its many arches, marble bath tub in the bedroom and hanging filigree lamps.
The oval-shaped infinity pool is at the edge of the property, with a view out across the tropical canopy and Arabian Sea, and several cabanas to sequester.
The spa offers Ayurvedic remedies along with Swedish, aromatherapy and hot-stone ones. Yoga classes are held regularly in the pavilion by the pond.
(free for under-6s, INR5,000 a night for children aged 6-11, INR8,000 a night for over-11s)
The villa’s whitewashed walls form an ideal backdrop to bust out some soft-furnishing-rivalling threads: bring all the colourful cotton and silk you can pack.
The hotel is not easily navigable for wheelchair users. The hotel does not accept credit card payments, all payments must be made via bank transfer directly to the hotel.
Welcome; cots and extra beds can be added to rooms (free for under-6s, INR5,000 a night for children aged 6-11, INR8,000 a night for over-11s). There's a massage garden to explore and beaches nearby. The hotel also table tennis and board games to borrow.
The hotel uses produce from organic local farms and composts all of its kitchen waste on the 20-acre grounds. Monsoon rains are collected in on-site storage tanks. Plastic bottles are shunned in favour of glass ones, and many of the staff are from the area.
Join the fun at the long dining table, or have your meal served on your suite’s terrace.
Goa is only a few hours’ drive north: if you want to go full hippie, no one’s judging.
There are only six rooms, so the chances are you’re going to get to know your fellow guests – and the communal table in the dining area is the best place to do it. Enjoy bountiful breakfasts of home-made muesli, bread and yoghurt, eggs and bacon, and Indian options such as parathas, dosas and idli. The curries come dinnertime are excellent (hello dahl makhani, with just-made roti), but Western palates are also catered to. Lunch (international and Indian dishes) can be arranged on request.
There’s no bar, but drinks can be served wherever you want them (tip: there’s a hilltop spot that screams ‘sunset G&T’).
Breakfast hours are 7am to noon. Lunch can be served between 1.30pm and 3pm. Dinner starts at 7.30pm, with last orders taken at 9.30pm.
Kahani Paradise is close to the temple town Gokarna in the Indian state of Karnataka, along the Arabian Sea coast but still a good 10 hours by car from the state capital Bengaluru.
Goa’s international airport is closest, but this is India, so don’t let that fool you: the 155-kilometre drive should take just under four hours. Kahani Paradise can fetch you, from 1,800 rupees per car.
The nearest rail station is Gokarna Road, 11 kilometres away; the drive should take around 20 minutes. Hotel transfers start from 1,500 rupees each way. From here, you can catch a train to other Indian cities, including Margao in Goa.
It’s 15 minutes by car into the centre of Gokarna and there’s a car park within the estate, but it’s a heck of a lot easier to enlist the help of a driver to navigate the local roads and traffic.
Helicopters can land on-site.
Worth getting out of bed for
This is a small-scale sanctuary, away from the crowds and touristy developments of Goa, where you can dig a little deeper for a still-authentic, like-it-was-in-the-Seventies Indian adventure.
The hotel can help to arrange boat trips with local fishermen, strolls to the lighthouse, trips to the market on Thursdays and sundowners around the estate. Learn how to cook in the hotel kitchens with a local-led cookery class, or enlist the expertise of the resident botanist for a tour of the 20 acres. In the Arabian Sea town of Gokarna, Hindu pilgrims journey to its temples, which include Mahabaleshwar and its shrine to Shiva. There are motorbikes to borrow at the hotel to make the 20-minute trip into town easier. Half Moon Beach is a kilometre along the coast – it’s only accessible on foot, and the walk will take around 15 minutes.
Don’t miss the famous hippie-favoured Paradise Beach (so hippie-favoured, in fact, it’s sometimes just called ‘Hippie Beach’).
Dinner is included in your rate every night, so sit back, relax and let the super-squad staff do all the hard curry-providing work for you.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this boutique hotel in India and unpacked their saris and sarongs, a full account of their Arabian Sea break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Kahani Paradise in Gokarna…
Goa may be just up the coast, but you’ll travel a few decades back in time with a trip to Kahani Paradise. The paradise bit nods to its position in the jungle above Paradise Beach, but it may as well refer to the other meaning, for this family-owned estate is pretty close to celestial perfection. This gorgeous Grand Design was built from scratch, but antiques abound to add a little authenticity, whether it’s a door from Rajasthan, filigree lanterns or daintily legged chairs. The paddy field and palm forest surrounds have gone green: it’s a lush landscape as far as the eye can see, which is all the way to the Arabian Sea. Unsurprisingly, the family still come back to stake out their palatial property; guests can do the same and book out all six suites for special occasions. Or come as a pair, smug at finding such a special stay – no time machine needed.