Sign up for a colourful Keralan adventure at luxury hotel Malabar Escapes: Purity, which earns its name with gorgeous grounds, lush lake-views and a restaurant that champions the region’s ravishing cuisine. Bedrooms come with private terraces or balconies (all the better for spying on that lake from) and bold, spice-rack hits of colour; there’s also a soothing Ayurvedic spa and an in-house health expert, on hand to help realign your chakras. Further afield, expeditions to local villages and markets or boat trips on a traditional thatched shikkara await.
Noon, as is check-in (both are flexible, subject to availability). Guests arriving early or leaving late can still enjoy the hotel’s restaurant, spa and swimming pools.
Double rooms from £174.33 (€209), including tax at 19 per cent.
Rates usually include breakfast, on-loan bicycles and WiFi.
Yogis, you’re in luck: the hotel runs seasonal yoga retreats (dates vary annually). Malabar Escapes: Purity has a soft spot for local art, displaying work by Abdul Kalam, a photographer-turned-artist.
At the hotel
Gorgeous grounds; lakefront pavilion; resident health guru; communal kitchen for cookery classes; free WiFi throughout. In rooms: TV, option to play DVDs, air-conditioning, minibar. All rooms have a lake-spying terrace or veranda.
Our favourite rooms
We love the relaxing, romantic Vembanad Suites, which even have their own massage room. Since all rooms come with a private terrace or balcony overlooking the hotel’s star attraction – that peaceful lake – you can’t really go wrong…
There are two to choose from, both set in the peaceful grounds: one is for adults only, one is for families (and both are utterly lovely).
Malabar’s spa taps into rich Keralan healing traditions, offering indulgent ayurvedic treatments in a choice of two treatment rooms (one kitted out for couples). If you want to really rejuvenate and reboot, sign up for one of the three spa packages: detox, destress and beautify, which range from three to 14 days in length. Malabar also has an in-house doctor, on hand to discuss health and nutrition.
Bring a book or two to curl up with in the peaceful lobby area, which is restfully decorated with art and antiques.
Communal areas have ramp access for wheelchair-users; there are also dedicated disabled-access bedrooms, with modified bathrooms.
Little Smiths are welcome, but the hotel reckons it’s best for over-6s and teens. Waterbabies will love the family-friendly outdoor swimming pool, which is supervised by an attendant.
Malabar Escapes: Purity uses solar power, sustainable light bulbs and earth-kind bath products. The restaurant relies on seasonal produce and as much as possible is recycled. Guests can get here by train or battery-powered tuk-tuk (yes, really).
Nab a table overlooking Lake Vembanad for added romance.
Keralan wanderer: linens, leather and a dash of colour. NB this isn’t really the place for cleavage- or thigh-flashing.
Malabar Kitchen showcases southern Indian cuisine in all its colourful, aromatic, spicy, healthy glory. Try some succulent seafood (we loved the Travancore tiger prawn curry) and the Vembanad platter: a selection of light and flavoursome traditional dishes.
Dinner is served until around 10.30pm; breakfast is available until 10am.
There’s no room service, but Malabar Kitchen serves a array of light bites from 3pm until 6pm: crispy fried masala anchovies with chilli mayonnaise, katti rolls, rolled paper chapati, carrot and saffron kuli and the ilk.
East of Muhamma Police Station
The hotel has a prime Keralan perch, overlooking Lake Vembanad (India’s longest lake).
Cochin International, Kerala’s busiest and largest airport, is 70 kilometres from the hotel in the city of Kochi (a two-hour drive). One-way transfers are €65 a car; the driver will pick you up outside the airport’s arrival hall.
Alleppey Junction (Alappuzha) station is 18 kilometres from the hotel (a half-hour drive). Hotel transfers are €30 each way for one car.
If you want to come with wheels, Alleppey is the closest town (20 minutes away); the hotel has an on-site car park.
Worth getting out of bed for
Obliging staff can organise an array of local activities for an extra cost (prices vary, depending on the excursion). Set off on a day-trip to historic Fort Cochin, where you will encounter spice and antique markets and traditional fishermen using Chinese nets. The trip includes transfers, a welcome drink, a spa treatment, lunch and a two-hour tuk-tuk tour. Discover the Kuttanad community by going on a trip into the heart of the backwaters, where you’ll meet the locals and learn about village life. Arrange a tuk-tuk ride to a nearby coir factory, where natural coconut fibres are used to make a variety of products, including floor mats, doormats, brushes and mattresses. Sign up for an hour-long cookery demonstration in Malabar: Purity’s communal kitchen or embark on a four-hour boat trip on a traditional thatched shikkara, looking out for local wildlife.
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 lakeside hotel in southern India and unpacked their chappals (slippers) and spices, a full account of their adventure will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Malabar Escapes: Purity in Kerala…
As you’d expect from a hotel with ‘Purity’ in its name, most of Malabar’s charms are natural: the hotel enjoys a prime perch by India’s longest lake, Vembanad; rooms – and their balconies or terraces – are positioned accordingly. Like its Smith-approved Malabar Escapes siblings, Serenity and Trinity, the hotel honours its Keralan roots, championing the work of local craftsmen and artisans. Artworks by Abdul Kalam, a photographer-turned-artist, is a highlight here, along with the hotel’s colour-pop, Spanish-influenced stained windows and candy-bright furnishings. The restaurant also dishes up a riot of colour: expect flavoursome, fresh southern Indian dishes that are as healthy as they are delicious. To help you leave feeling utterly spoiled, the hotel also has a soothing spa that sensibly plugs into Kerala’s rich Ayurvedic heritage; there’s even an on-site health guru. Go on, treat your chakras.
You’ll also find Malabar Escapes: Purity at Lake Vembanad in: