Homestays, guest houses and B&Bs are all great ways ensure great quality accommodation in Kerala and still save money to do all of things you really want to do. Most homestay style accommodation provides breakfast, and a lot of them will also offer to cook the rest of your meals for your convenience. We found that in the more out of the way places this was a fantastic advantage as well as being an opportunity to sample traditional Indian home cooking and end the day with the sounds of the sea or of local wildlife, under a starry sky with very little light pollution. Home stays by definition should be ‘home from home’. comfortable, homely and a refuge from the word outside, the best homestays really are.
The advantages of homestays
Most homestay owners love show off their area, advise on places of interest to visit and even help you arrange trips. We found that we were always made to feel that nothing was too much trouble when we wanted help or information. We were fortunate enough to have a custom-built itinerary and tours built around things that interested us, including hospitality, meals and refreshments in private homes, tours to local temples and visits to local craft people and farms. As locals, homestay owners and staff have specific knowledge of activities like festivals, feasts and religious events and have the right contacts to facilitate visits if you wish to attend. Again we were lucky enough to be able to visit a religious festival and also another temple to look around, places I doubt we’d have even known about if we’d have stayed in a hotel. There’s a wide variety of accommodation types available, from stand alone cabins and chalet type room through to small & medium guest-houses & even tree-houses & ecolodges; all are friendly and put great emphasis on customer service. Most are hosted by the family that own them, so have a personal touch not often found in hotels, even smaller ones. Be aware that not all accept card payments so know before you go and make sure you have the cash.
We stayed at a couple of superb examples of how homestay style accommodation can really make a big difference to what you get out of your holiday. Their location and the way they were arranged and run were totally different, but they both blew us away with their hospitality, comfort and service.
A Homestay On Kizhunna Beach
Lazy Days Out
Our room was a very well-kept, reasonably sized double room with en-suite. To be honest though, with such beautiful surroundings, very little time was spent there. Although the gorgeous beach is the main draw, if you’re ever lucky enough to stay at Beach ‘n Bay, try to make the time to walk to the local village. We decided to explore one evening before dinner. We walked down country lanes bordered with coconut palms and Mango and Cashew Nut trees and had a wonderful insight into village life in Southern India. We appeared to be the main attraction; but in a fabulous way stopping to chat to families on their porches or in their gardens, exchanging ‘hellos’ with children and grannies alike. When we eventually arrived back at the Homestay, we were laden not only with biscuits from the local shop but also with fresh cashews, mangoes and other fruit, all given to us on our walk by lovely, friendly householders and children. That walk was one of the highlights of our entire stay in Kerala.
Sasi and Sona arranged for us to attend a Theyyam ceremony, something that was on my ‘must do’ list; it didn’t disappoint. They were also kind enough to arrange and accompany us for a day out. We took a ferry up the gorgeous backwaters for a visit to a temple where we ate lunch and had a leisurely look around. Yet again we were almost overwhelmed by the acceptance & generosity of the people we met.
A Homestay up in the Western Ghats
Three Roots Stay, Sultan Bathery looked and felt very different from Beach ‘n Bay. Sultan Bathery is a bustling small town, up high in the Western Ghats. Three Roots is outside of the hustle and bustle of the town but the town is still easily accessible. The accommodation is fairly new & comprises of three pristine, white largish ‘villas’ in beautifully well-kept grounds. One ‘villa’ holds a reception desk and some rooms, the second ‘villa holds more rooms & the third was the dining room & possibly staff accommodation. Our room was a largish double with a huge en-suite. We had access to a large shared balcony right next door to our room. As with every place we stayed, the food was freshly cooked with locally sourced ingredients and delicious.
Timing is All in Wayanad
Wayanad is famed for its nature reserves, National Parks and wildlife. We visited Kerala in the first half of March which is slightly off season so we had no issues finding homestays. However the parks and reserves in the area had recently all closed to the public. We knew that this can happen late in the season when the risk of forest fires is high and in 2018 it happened earlier than usual. It’s a chance you take when you visit at that time. If the Nature Reserves and parks are the main reason for your visit, try to to visit earlier in the season to be sure of getting entry to the parks. In our case it didn’t worry us, there’s still plenty of wildlife to be seen and lots of other things to do in he area even when the parks are closed.
Wherever we go, we enjoy sampling local life, and in Wayanad we took the opportunity to visit nearby villages, get to know Sultan Bathery and take some lovely evening strolls. You can do everything, or you can do nothing but whatever you want to do, help is always around.
The Kindness of Strangers
In a similar vein to Beach ‘n Bay, we got talking to one of the staff at Three Roots and asked for help to arrange a trip out to a local village to see some local crafts. Going well above and beyond duty, Sandhya actually arranged a whole evening of visits for us which included in a feast at her parents house.
We loved our visit to Kerala. And our Homestays played a big part in making it as magical as it was. They’ve certainly left us with some very special memories.