The calm was infectious. Sunlight streamed into my room through the blue and white curtains veiling the elegant window. As I tiptoed out of my room barefooted, the wooden floor creaked a tad bit and that was the only source of sound I heard, with the exception of the calls of the cuckoo. I was at Neemrana hotel’s The Tower House at Fort Kochi, a charming colonial mansion, which gave newer meanings of serenity and solitude.
I do not remember the last time I walked barefoot inside a hotel premises. (Beyond my room)
I also do not remember the last time a hotel offered vast, indoor public spaces to it’s guests. (Beyond the lobby area and gardens).
But then this was a non-hotel hotel just like other Neemrana properties. Where beds were just like the ones at home, comfortable and inviting. Where I was welcomed with warm smiles of Teresa and the housekeeping staff as I sauntered about from one lobby to another. Where Rajesh and the others noted down every dietary detail and preference while dishing out local and international cuisines. Where Mr.Ranjit, the manager, was eager to show me around the property, narrating stories, his passion towards the property shining through.
This 17th century house, marks the spot of a lighthouse and tells tales of seafarers, traders and fishermen of a bygone era. It is believed that cannon balls were once fired from its thick bastion walls and fishermen’s boats were parked inside during high tide.
I walk past an arched white wooden doorway with embellishments, reliving the old world charm that the place beheld: imagining how sailors and travellers might have celebrated in this regal room, and how traders and merchants would have met under the ornate chandeliers, suspending from high, whitewashed ceilings.
Soon this quaint building became the busy office of M/S Pierce Leslie, a trader. Heritage changed hands again in 2009, when Neemrana hotels acquired the property. Not only does this building give an insight into the spice trade of Cochin, but also a sneak peek into the lavish lifestyle of foreign traders.
Located in the heart of Fort Kochi:
Located right in the heart of Fort Kochi, Neemrana’s Towerhouse was ideal for me.
It is perfect for those who want an oasis of peace amidst the chaos of the fishermen in action, right opposite at their Chinese fishing nets.
It is a stone’s throw away from Instagram worthy cafes of Kochi: Teapot, Kashi Art Cafe, and even the gorgeous David Hall garden restaurant.
Thanks to it’s location, you can walk all across the area to see prominent landmarks and monuments like St. Francis church, the Maritime Museum, the Indo Portuguese museum, Dutch cemetery and the Santacruz Basilica. Do not forget to explore the vibrant Princess Street with its colourful buildings.
Rooms of varied sizes, hues and moods:
No two rooms are similar at the Neemrana Towerhouse. There are 13 rooms of varying sizes and each done up in a different colour scheme. The pop of colour differed: from pastel hues to shocking pinks and soothing blues.
Each room is named after its colonial masters: Noronha, Mossel, Wayermah, Souza, Mascarenhas, Cunes, Menzes, and the likes. My sprawling suite is named after Mateu and like most other rooms it has a large four poster bed. Some rooms are sea facing, some face the pool, the cosier ones have private balconies as well as a quiet corridor leading to them.
Some rooms like Cunes are perfect for writers seeking a higher level of solitude.
One morning was spent basking in the sun, under the tree, scribbling notes in my diary. Another was spent lazing in the waterfront verandah, picking up inspiration from aura of the place.
Get a dose of retail therapy at the Neemrana shop that offers handicrafts from across India, or pick up a book from the Library at the Tete a Tete room and relax by the pool or take a dip in it, surrounded with swaying coconut trees.
Opt for a rejuvenating Ayurvedic spa in the comfort of your room as Sindhu works her magic on every aching muscle.
Ask the reception to book you a ticket for a Kathakali show in the neighbourhood, for a evening of cultural extravaganza or visit the rural backwaters on a day trip to get a feel of the local life.
The hotel can also arrange a fancy candlelight dinner on the seafront at The Old Lighthouse Bistrow. (This place is known for its sunset views, romantic ambience, and local seafood.)
The Neemrana Towerhouse is a scallop walled twin house resembling a ship. The decor is simple, yet elegant, combining Portuguese, Dutch and bits of the local style as well. Some pieces are antique: rosewood and ebony furniture belonging to the same era as the house, some informal cane and rattan pieces are sourced locally, blending with the serene mood of the property.
Each public area at the Towerhouse is interconnected with another: the white door leads to the Salon room with high vaulted ceilings (this design provided generous ventilation even in summer). The teak wood staircase that takes you downstairs also takes you to the polished first floor covered entirely in teak.
The Tete a Tete room is a library that acts like a central meeting place, facing the rooms as well as the swimming pool and leading to it.
And as I explore the place in the wee hours of the morning, time pauses and it does feel like home: No restricted areas, no prohibitions.
My stay at the Towerhouse took me back in time. There were several moods and memories woven together, between the realms of past and the fleeting sun light of the present.
Points to remember:
- The Towerhouse in Kochi is a great option if you are looking for a unique, budget hotel in Kochi that gives you the same warmth that you would get in a homestay, but with much better facilities.
- Being a heritage hotel with a modern outlook, the staff does it’s best to make you comfortable but if you expect a swanky stay, please look elsewhere. The beauty of this property is in it’s simplicity and serenity.
- The proximity to the sea and open spaces makes any property in this area prone to mosquitos. Though the staff does regular fumigation and provides ample mosquito repellants, it won’t do any harm if you carry a mosquito repellant as well.
Disclaimer: My stay at the Neemrana Towerhouse hotel was hosted but all views, photos, feelings and experiences are my own! 🙂