Niraamaya Retreats Surya Samudra in Kerala is an escape for all senses. On a cliff above the Arabian Sea, the palm-shaded hotel is made up of a series of historic cottages transplanted among coconut groves to maximise privacy and sea views. The oceanfront setting is also a hint at the exceptional food, including seafood caught each day, and the flavors that made Kerala a hub of the spice trade. Succumb to utter relaxation at the award-winning spa, where Ayurvedic treatments using aromatic oils can soothe any tension, then bed down to the sound of crashing waves, far from it all.
Get this when you book through us:
A sundowner cocktail each, either on arrival or once during your stay in the Madira bar
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from $131.29 (INR9,320), excluding tax at 28 per cent.
Rates include full breakfast.
To channel the architectural heritage of Kerala, the Niraamaya team moved historic, traditional local homes — called tharavads — from throughout the region to the property, restoring them and transplanting them throughout the palm-dotted hillside.
At the hotel
Beach, yoga, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV and DVD player, minibar, tea/coffee facilities, Forest Essentials bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Take in the sea views from the veranda of a Heritage Premium rooms, which have tubs in the outdoor gardens. Each is a tharavad, a meticulously restored traditional Keralan home.
Cleverly cut into the cliff, the sun-warmed jade infinity pool overlooks the Arabian sea with prime sunset views.
Sprawled over eight treatment rooms and 626sq m, the exceptional spa utilises Ayurvedic, Thai, Chinese and European treatments to offer the most soothing escape. Treatments include massages, facials, guided meditations, wraps, hydro-baths, couples’ treatments and massages. Warm ginger and chilled spice teas are on offer, as well as healing green tea.
Save room for spices: as India’s southwest port region, Kerala was an important hub for the spice trade, and remains an excellent source of fragrant cooking supplies.
Greet the day with yoga to the sound of crashing waves in the hotel’s serene cliffside pavilion.
Welcome. The hotel can provide babysitting and kids’ menus, but the cliffs and tranquility are not especially ideal for little ones.
At Essence, request a table on the patio overlooking the sea. At Café Samsara, the garden tables are most romantic.
Loose linens should keep you covered on breezy evenings.
Perched on the cliff, high above the sea with uninterrupted views, Essence serves south-east Asian cuisine, with a focus on Thai flavours. The chefs meet with fishermen and farmers daily to ensure the freshest seafood and local produce for dishes like jumbo prawns krapao and mahi mahi baked into banana leaves. For casual all-day dining, Café Samsara serves regional and international dishes, including Malabar fish curry and a coconut masala, all overlooking the pool, with prime sunset views.
The laid-back Madira serves drinks on a sandy terrace with sea views, for those who’d like their toes in the sand as they sip tropical drinks. There is a full selection of wines and beers, but the cocktails are excellent, including a Pineapple Basil Martini with ginger, and a mint-laced Coconut-tini with fresh coconut water. The food menu includes baked mussels, stir-fried beef with onions, tandoor-grilled chicken breasts and several prawn dishes, including skewers and beer-battered.
Café Samsara serves all day, from 7:30am until 10:30pm. Essence offers dinner from 7 to 10:30pm. Madira serves drinks from 11am until 11pm.
A selection of classic local dishes, appetisers, sandwiches, salads and desserts is available any time of day. For those with specific cravings, the hotel can accommodate most any reasonable requests.
Pulinkudi, Mullur PO
Thiruvananthapuram 695 521
Niraamaya Retreats Surya Samudra is in Southern Kerala on the Arabian Sea.
The nearest hub is Trivandrum International Airport, a 40-minute drive from the hotel. Flights from Europe and North America will necessitate a stop, likely through Delhi or Mumbai. Arrange transfers with the hotel or through Smith24.
Trivandrum Central Station, a 40-minute drive from the hotel, is the largest station in Kerala, and connects with all major Indian cities.
The hotel offers valet parking, and has a car park just outside the property, but driving in India can be chaotic and is not recommended for the unfamiliar.
Worth getting out of bed for
Perched above the rolling waves of the Arabian Sea, tranquil Niraamaya can captivate guests for days on end. The hotel’s culinary programme is exceptional, and the hotel customises cooking classes to showcase dishes or ingredients to please each guest. For the real sea-to-table experience, accompany the chefs to the dock to select a fish to prepare for dinner. The team can then arrange candlelit dinner in the yoga pavilion overlooking the sea or on a secluded strip of beach. The Niraamaya Spa alone is worth a journey, and books up well in advance. The menu of à la carte treatments has enough to please any spa enthusiast, but the ultra-devoted can join month-long retreats for maximal relaxation.
Niraamaya’s remote location is part of its appeal, but there are plenty of activities nearby for those eager to explore the best of Kerala. The hotel can arrange for boat trips, including through the nearby mandrake groves. Kerala is home to exceptional art and architecture, including Padmanabhapuram Palace 16th-century wood palace that is the largest and best preserved example of wooden architecture in the country. The intricate and dazzling Shree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram (W Nada) is the wealthiest Hindu temple in the world, estimated to hold £17 billion in gems in its vaults. Near there, Napier Museum and Art Gallery (LMS Vellayambalam Road) holds its own amazing collection of treasures from the Maharajas.
In a restored 18th-century Dutch manor house, Villa Maya pays tribute to the spices of the region with exceptional food that showcases the region's incredible local bounty in dishes that show off local specialties and global fare that incorporates Kerala’s spices. Should jetlag strike, the restaurant at the Leela Kovalam serves a buffet of Asian, European and local Indian dishes 24 hours a day. Overlooking the pool, the restaurant serves particularly good seafood.
Stock up on pastries for a day of exploration at the German bakery in Kovalam.
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 beach hotel in Kerala and unpacked their yoga mats and spices, a full account of their Indian break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Niraamaya Retreats Surya Samudra? in Kerala…
Niraamaya Retreats Surya Samudra can feel like the edge of the world. On the southern tip of India, where the Bay of Bengal meets the Arabian Sea, the hotel has panoramic water views and utter privacy. Sunsets sipping tropical cocktails by the infinity pool are the picture of romance.
Though it’s tempting to succumb to the total relaxation and lift only the most minimal of muscles, the hotel is rich with Indian heritage for those interested in learning more about Kerala. Each historic cottage — all transplanted and immaculately restored — showcases the local architecture. In the yoga pavilion, expert instructors can guide aspiring yogis in sun salutations with sea views. Up the hill, the superlative spa specialises in Ayurvedic treatments alongside more traditional massages and wraps. As a hub of the ancient spice trade, Kerala naturally has exceptional food, and Chef Prakash makes some of the region’s best dishes, showcasing Thai and Indian flavours with local seafood and palate-enlivening spices that are the ideal reminder of the very best of Kerala.
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