The 15 Best Places to Stay in the Kerala Backwaters
Much of the allure of Kerala’s Backwaters is simply that there is little to do here other than sit back and relax. India can be overwhelming, so the backwaters provide respite for the travel weary. Our pick of the best places to stay in Kerala’s Backwaters are designed to make the most of this region's peace and tranquility.
From Alleppey beaches’ golden sunsets to the labyrinth of canals encased by thick jungle, decorated with exotic birdlife, the Backwaters are a South Indian idyll.
December to February is the best time to visit, however the lush greenery is even more viridescent during the monsoon. March to May can be hot and humid.
The bountiful waterways attract all manner of birdlife. From Indian darters to egrets, herons and the famous kingfisher, it is a paradise for birds and birders alike.
Our pick of the best places to stay in the Backwaters all provide a quintessentially Keralan and luxurious experience. Natural Ayurvedic treatments are widely practiced in Kerala so why not indulge in an all body massage?
The 15 Best Places to Stay in the Keralan Backwaters
The Best Houseboats in the Keralan Backwaters
There is no more immersive way to experience Kerala’s backwaters than by boat.
The Oberoi Vrinda is a luxurious, eight room houseboat, offering the same five star service one would expect from the Oberoi group, with smartly decorated rooms and views across the lake. There is an Indian and Continental restaurant, bar and sun terrace. Experience Kerala's backwaters in style.
Or what about staying on a traditional Keralan 'kettuvallom' style boat? Board the Discovery, an electric powered house boat is making waves in the sustainable tourism sector. With one master bedroom and a sitting room that can be converted into twin beds it is ideally suited for a romantic getaway or holidaying families. Decor is simple yet chic with locally sourced materials and artwork. Similarly meals are a modern take on Southern Indian dining - delicious fish dishes, served on a banana leaf, can be enjoyed out on the sunny terrace whilst cruising along the backwaters at a leisurely pace.
The Best Boutique Hotels in the Kerala Backwaters
A labour of love for its Italian owner, completed in 2003, Purity, on Vembanad Lake provides modern meets traditional accommodation. Muted tones juxtaposed with pop colours create a chic feel whilst the hotel’s spa, offering tailor made packages, makes it a truly indulgent stay.
Raheem Residency’s heritage style offers a homely southern India stay, providing guests with an authentic slice of boutique beach life. Each of the ten rooms are of an excellent size, filled with antiques, and with ornate four poster beds, rich fabrics and original art. And there are daily yoga classes and a traditional spa.
The Best Escapes in the Kerala Backwaters
Vismaya is a recently refurbished, intimate 400 year old villa, situated on a peninsula, hidden in a tropical coconut grove, with a spectacular three-sided views of the salty expansive Lake Vembanad. Recently renovated to a high standard, there are only two bedrooms with modern en suite outdoor bathrooms allowing guests to shower under a blue or starry sky. A small team of staff are on hand to look after a maximum of 4 people so it’s designed to be an extremely special, pampering experience.
Ameya is a newly-built, French-owned eco-retreat, with stunning uninterrupted 180 degree lake views. Accommodation is in 3 spacious deluxe cottages - two with their own private wooden cabanas, and there's a calm ambience and a feeling or barefoot luxury.
There are just two villas to the Kayal Island Retreat, and it's only accessible by traditional rowboats. It aims to offer total relaxation, but also offers charming antique decorations, and invites guests to step into authentic Keralan life. Local dishes are served, and Ayurvedic massages, yoga and meditation are available.
The Best Hotels in the Kerala Backwaters for Families
Philipkutty's Farm is a charming homestay on a farm-island on the eastern shores of Vembanad Lake. Food is one of the main draws here, along with the warm welcome and charming accommodation - it's even been endorsed by Rick Stein.
Coconut Lagoon is a former coconut planation accessed by a small canal. Private cottages are scattered amongst its luscious grounds, making it ideal for both families and couples. Famed for its home-cooked Keralan cuisine guests can enjoy private cooking classes with the chef.
With plenty of on site activities and ways to tire themselves out, the little ones will be well looked after at Vivanta by Taj Kumarakom. Add to this two bedroom villas with private pools and children's menu, plus fine dining and a spa for the grownups, there is something for all the family. And the 28 rooms start from around £85 per night.
The Most Romantic Places to Stay in the Kerala Backwaters
A Beach Symphony is a luxurious oasis within its own grounds on a long stretch of beautiful beach. Guests are given their own independent cottages, on of only four, all decorated differently, but all offering lots of private space indoors and out. And then treated to considerate, professional and discreet service.
The Best Spa Hotels in the Kerala Backwaters
Boasting one of the largest spas in South India, The Zuri Kumarakom is the perfect stay for those interested in a wellness retreat. Including traditional Ayurvedic, Chinese and Western treatments and private yoga classes it is the place to come to truly unwind.
The Best Resort Hotels in the Kerala Backwaters
The Kumarakom Lake Resort is a 50 room resort sitting in blissful peace beside Vembanad Lake, offering both rooms and traditionally inspired villas set beside the river and a river-style swimming pool. The decor features plenty of teak and a luxurious air. Some of the villas have outdoor bathrooms.
The Best Value Hotels in the Kerala Backwaters
For around £50 per night you can stay at the Kondai Lip Backwater Heritage Resort, a no-nonsense, easy-going pit stop in a quiet, isolated backwater location, not far from Fort Kochi. Good for a night or two - for groups and families. There are boats to borrow and birds to watch, plus a small butterfly garden.
On Vembanad Lake's southern shore, the Punnamada Resort is a bastion of classical elegance, promising quality, understated luxury and discreet, professional service. Accommodation is in a collection of bunaglows surrounding the pool, with well designed jack fruit wood interiors with four-poster ultra comfortable beds (complete with draped mosquito net), attractive desks, trunk-style tables, intricate carved details and quality brass fittings.
Still not sure which is the best place to stay in the Kerala Backwaters for you?
- From houseboat to heritage browse though our list of the best places to stay in Kerala to start to plan your trip.
- Or you could contact one of our friendly Gurus for personalised advice.
The 15 Best Places to Stay in the Kerala Backwaters
The Oberoi Vrinda 8 rooms from £528Kochi (Willingdon Island)
An unusual offering from the Oberoi chain in the form of a luxurious houseboat. The same five star service one would expect and rooms are smartly decorated and feature views across the lake. There is an Indian and Continental restaurant, bar and sun terrace. Experience Kerala's backwaters in style.Fishing - Visit the iconic Chinese fishing nets for a mandatory Keralan photo opportunity.Sights nearby - The historic Mattancherry Palace houses an excellent Indian art collection.Cooking classes - Either embark on a food tour or take part in a cooking class.Restrictions on children - Chlidren above the age of 12 are welcome.
Raheem Residency 10 rooms from £70Alappuzha (Kerala)
A homely southern India stay providing guests with an authentic slice of boutique beach life. Each of the ten rooms are of an excellent size, filled with antiques and feature ornate four posters, rich fabrics and original art. There are daily yoga classes and a traditional spa. A welcome break.Sailing - The hotel can help organise a trip on a classic snake boat or spend a night on a houseboat.Great walks - The iconic rice paddy fields are best explored on foot.Sights nearby - Visit the nearby Jain and Serpent temples.Cooking classes - Check for timings.Recommended by - I Escape
Coconut Lagoon 52 rooms from £219Kottayam (Kerala)
Accessible via a small canal this property is located right on the water. Cottages are scattered around the grounds of this former coconut plantation, each with private terraces, sitting rooms whilst the bungalows and villas have their own pools. There is an indulgent pool and Ayurvedic spa for all.Cooking classes - Coconut Lagoon is famed for its cuisine - learn their secrets with a private lesson from the chef.Kayaking - Right on the edge of the Vembanad Lake you can hop straight into a kayak and hit the water.Fishing - Head out on the hotel boat and catch a fish supper.Sights nearby - Cochin is a 45km drive but well worth a visit.
Purity 10 rooms from £170Muhamma, Kerala
Built in 2003 by Florentine architect Maria Fernhof this is a modern boutique hotel yet filled with antiques. Modern art covers the walls and relaxing verandahs benefit from garden and lake views. Fresh Keralan dishes are served al-fresco, weather permitting. There is a pleasant pool and spa.Birdwatching - The Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary has a variety of local and migratory birds.Cooking classes - Pop in to the kitchen and get a lesson on Indian spices from the chef.Full of characterViews - Great views from hotelRecommended by - I Escape
Philipkutty's Farm 6 rooms from £147Vechoor, Kottayam Dist.
An idyllic homestay on a farm-island in the backwaters of Lake Vembanad. A truly authentic Keralan experience in a magical settingCooking classes - Cookery demonstrations teaching local cuisine secretsBirdwatching - Egrets, Cormorants, snake birds and moreBack to Nature - Best time to visit. October to March.Fishing - Excellent fishing nearby.Recommended by - I Escape
A Beach Symphony from £114Kerala
A luxurious oasis within its own grounds on a long stretch of beautiful beach. Guests (mostly couples) are given their own independent cottages with lots of private space indoors and out and treated to professional and discreet service.Birdwatching - Superb birdwatching in the nearby Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary.Sights nearby - Visit the nearby Vaikom Mahadeva Temple.Seaside - Ideal for a seaside holiday.On the beach - In front of the hotel.
Vismaya 2 rooms from £106Cherthala, Kerala
Lakeside retreat in a beautiful old building recently renovated with stunning views, discreet personal service catering for sublime relaxation. For couples and families with older children.Great walks - Beautiful walking along the side of Lake Vembanad.Local markets - Explore the local market at Varanad.Sights nearby - Visit the nearby Devi Temple.Remote - Off the beaten track.
Ameya from £140Cherthala, Kerala
Lakeside luxury can be found at this newly opened French owned retreat where space, privacy and first class service are to be found. Best for couples.Birdwatching - The surrounding area is great for birdwatching.Sights nearby - Visit nearby Hindu Temples.Secluded setting - For escaping.Romantic - Good for couples.
Kayal Island Retreat 2 rooms from £74Alappuzha, Kerala
Only accessible by traditional rowboats this island hideaway offers total relaxation. Just two villas, charmingly decorated and furnished with antiques, invite guests to step into authentic Keralan life. Local dishes are served whilst Ayurvedic massages, yoga and meditation are available.Hideaway - With just two villas this is a proper private island getawayFamilies - Families or groups can hire the entire propertyGreat walks - Around the island, through the coconut plantationsSecluded setting - For escaping.
Discovery, The Backwaters 2 rooms from £205Vembanad Lake, Kerala
Your own private Keralan 'kettuvallom' style boat for exploring the verdant backwaters. With chic, pop colour interiors and an electric motor making for a quieter, more eco friendly stay. There is a large terrace for sunning, reading a good book and where meals are served. Tradition with a twist.Sights nearby - Visit the Vishnu temples where you can witness impressive martial dance displays.Back to Nature - Cruising along the tranquil Keralan backwaters you are at one with nature.Swimming Pool - Guests can use the pool at sister hotel 'Privacy' whilst moored there.Birdwatching - The Keralan backwaters are a haven for local and migratory birdlife.Recommended by - I Escape
Kumarakom Lake Resort 50 rooms from £206Kottayam
A blissful Keralan resort sitting by a serene lake. Traditionally inspired villas are set beside a river-style swimming pool with doors opening directly onto the water. Teak wooden floors, beamed ceilings and local furniture gives a luxurious air, as do the outdoor bathrooms. A fabulous stay.Hideaway - A tranquil retreat set alongside a picturesque lake in sleepy Kerala.Cooking classes - Learn how to make traditional dishes with the hotel chef.Sailing - Cruise along the backwaters on a traditional rice boat.Swimming Pool - Outdoor poolRecommended by - I Escape, Tablet
Vivanta by Taj Kumarakom 28 rooms from £84Kottayam (Kerala)
Overlooking the picturesque Vembanad Lake this property enjoys an enviable position. Eighteen verdant acres are connected by shady walkways, gullies and streams whilst colourful cottages are decorated in a Portuguese style. Plus there's the JIVA spa, and Regional and International cuisine.Families - With plenty of on site activities, kids club, plus family villas this is a great place to take the little ones.Romantic Break - Secluded villas, some with private pools, make this a great stay for couples.Birdwatching - The Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is located just next door to the property.Kids Club - Fully staffed.
The Zuri Kumarakom Kerala Resorts & Spa 72 rooms from £101Kottayam (Athikkalam, Kottayam, Kerala)
The Zuri is all about pampering yourself at the Maya spa. With an extensive wellness menu, fitness centre and detox packages - leave feeling completely rejuvenated. Surrounding a peaceful lagoon there are international dining options and on site activities. Modern rooms enjoy Vembanad Lake views.Spa breaks - The Maya spa is one of the largest in South India and includes Ayurvedic, Chinese and Western treatments.Romantic Break - Couples treatment room, pool villas and romantic private boat trips. Ideal for just the two of you.Fishing - Catch yourself a fish (lobster, shrimp or mussel) supper.Birdwatching - The Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is just a short drive away.
Punnamada Resort 36 rooms from £99Alappuzha (Kottankulangara)
The classic, timeless style will appeal to those who like quality, understated luxury and discreet, professional service. Beautiful location and caters well for all activities. Just as well suited to families as it is for couples and solo travellers.Sights nearby - Visit the nearby Ambalapuzha Sree Krishna Temple.Fishing - Fishing trips can be organised on Vembanad Lake.Local markets - Explore the bustling local market in Alleppey.Birdwatching - Nine miles from the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary.
Kondai Lip Backwater Heritage Resort 11 rooms from £49Kochi (Kerala)
A no-nonsense, easy-going pit stop in a quiet, isolated backwater location, not far from Fort Kochi. Good for a night or two - for groups and families. Boats to borrow and birds to watch. Also home to a small butterfly garden.Cooking classes - Learn the art of Keralan cuisine or embark on a food tour - both fun and tasty activities!Fishing - The hotel can arrange day or even overnight trips aboard a traditional houseboat.Back to Nature - Located directly on the Keralan backwaters all rooms enjoy river views.Sights nearby - Fort Cochin is a day trip away and certainly worth a visit.