A riot of colour. A gentle pace of life. Palm trees, tumbling bougainvillea and white sandy beaches that stretch for miles. Temples and churches. Jungles to explore. And not forgetting some of the most delicious food I’ve ever tasted. Goa is a perfect holiday destination for me. Having spent a wonderful week here visiting hotels with The Goa Experience here’s my pick of my favourite 6 places to stay in this magical corner of India.
My top 6 hotels in Goa
Sol de Goa
Goa is famous for its heritage homes, former Portuguese villas and mansions, now converted into delightful hotels, oozing charm and character. And Sol de Goa is no exception. An elegant boutique hotel that I fell for as soon as I walked in to this courtyard, it is located in the fishing village of Nerul, overlooking the lush green banks of the Sinquerium River. The hotel has been lovingly converted and styled by the famous Indian fashion designer Tarun Tahiliani. The 21 chic rooms are filled with colonial antiques and each has a four-poster bed. In addition to the courtyard pool, a second can be found by the hotel’s bar and bistro, which serves excellent Goan and International cuisine. I had a superb meal here during my stay. A couple of nights a week music evenings, popular with the Goan elite, liven up this otherwise tranquil hotel.
Acron Waterfront, Baga
Set in a lovely location, overlooking Baga River, this small modern hotel opened in December last year. With just 29 rooms it has an intimate atmosphere and is the perfect choice for a quiet holiday. Let the days slip by relaxing on the sun terrace, watching the comings and goings on the river with the occasional dip in the infinity pool. However, should you wish to break this up with a little more action it is within easy reach of Baga, the liveliest resort in Goa, well-known for its nightlife and beach party atmosphere.
I didn’t get a chance to eat here which is a real shame as the restaurant, serving traditional Goan fare with an international twist, is run by the multi-award winning chef Cyrus Todiwala and his team. Now I’m back in England I may have to check out one of his London restaurants and pretend I’m back in Goa.
Personally, I’m not a fan of Baga, preferring the quieter beaches of the south but I’m a big fan of this stylish hotel.
Nilaya Hermitage, Arpora
The most unusual, interesting and my personal favourite of all the hotels I visited in Goa, the Nilaya Hermitage, with just 13 beautiful rooms, is stunning and my photos simply don’t do it justice. Hidden away in the jungle this is the ideal choice for any nature lover with a big budget. Spend your day in quiet meditation, walking in the jungle, joining the yoga classes or relaxing by the pool enjoying the hill-top view across Goa to the Arabian Sea. There’s also an excellent the Ayurvedic spa here that I wish I could have researched further! The only down sound with this hotel is that to get anywhere you need to get a taxi.
You can see a few more of my photographs from Nilaya on Boutique Travel Blog.
Built in the local rust coloured Laterite stone, complimented with shades of blue, the Nilaya Hermitage features Moroccan inspired architecture as seen in the Meditation room shown below.
If you’ll excuse the name drop, Brad and Angelina once stayed here.
Laid Back Waters, Siolim River
While Kerala is well-known for its rice boats that have been converted into floating mini hotels, this accommodation option is less known in Goa. While in no way luxurious, the 3, simply furnished double or twin rooms with ensuite showers are perfectly adequate for a short stay. I only recently wrote about my experience on just such a house boat but this list wouldn’t be complete without featuring it here as well. Find out more about the wonderful, night I spent on the river in my post, Unwind on a houseboat on the Siolim River, Goa.
A one or two night stay on ‘Laid Back Waters’ is surprisingly inexpensive.
Casa Anjuna, Anjuna
A stay at Casa Anjuna, another former heritage home, is like stepping back in time. Each of the 24 rooms is uniquely furnished with antiques and many personal touches and the peaceful gardens are a real delight with palm trees and hibiscus flowers. There’s also a beautiful swimming pool and a simple restaurant that has a great reputation for serving excellent traditional and international cuisine. While not luxurious, with more of a shabby chic vibe, I have a real soft spot for this charming hotel.
The Leela, Mobor
Reputedly the most luxurious hotel in Goa, The Leela is set in 75 acres of manicured grounds with waterlily filled lagoons, meandering through lush gardens and by a private soft white sand beach. I found the hotel stylish and elegant yet without pretension.
I could get used to this, could you?
Each of the 206 luxurious rooms has every modern comfort and look out either over the lagoons or the tropical gardens. There are plenty of things to do if you tire of the beach or pool including tennis and a 12 hole golf course. Plus there are four eateries and 2 bars and I particularly loved the location of the excellent Italian restaurant overlooking the river where colourful fishing boats moored on the bank opposite.