A riot of colour. A gentle pace of life. Palm trees, tumbling bougainvillaea 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. I’ve visited numerous hotels in Goa while working for The Goa Experience and I’ve enlisted the help of my fellow travellers to cover even more ground. Here’s our pick of the best hotels in Goa, a uniquely magical corner of India.
The best hotels in Goa
Sol de Goa, near Candolim | Boutique hotel in North Goa
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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 into this courtyard, it is located in the fishing village of Nerul, overlooking the lush green banks of the Sinquerium River. This stylish Goa 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.
Sol de Goa is about a 1-hour transfer to Goa International Airport. It’s the perfect choice for a stylish romantic break in an urban setting and just a 5-minute drive from the nearest beach.
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Acron Waterfront, Baga | Boutique hotel in North Goa
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Set in a lovely location, overlooking Baga River, this small modern hotel opened in December 2014. 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. There are shops, restaurants nearby and the nearest beach is just a 10-minute walk away.
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.
Acron Waterfront Hotel is about a 1 hour and 15-minute transfer to Goa International Airport. Personally, I’m not a fan of Baga, preferring the quieter beaches of the south but I’m a big fan of this stylish Goa hotel.
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Nilaya Hermitage, Arpora | Unique luxury hotel in North Goa
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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 or those looking for a yoga retreat. 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 downside with this hotel is that its secluded location means to go pretty much anywhere else you’ll 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.
Nilaya Hermitage is about a 1 hour and 15-minute transfer to Goa International Airport. It’s the perfect place to escape to for a relaxing, laid back retreat.
Laid Back Waters, Chapora River | Houseboat in North Goa
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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 houseboat 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 and transfers to and from your hotel can be arranged.
Casa Anjuna, Anjuna | Boutique hotel in North Goa
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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. And it’s within just a short walk of numerous shops and restaurants, as well as the beach.
Casa Anjuna is about a 1 hour and 20-minute transfer to Goa International Airport. It’s one of my favourite hotels in Goa.
Alila Diwa | Luxury hotel in South Goa
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The elegant Alila Diwa in South Goa is a great choice for a family holiday. It offers the perfect blend of luxury and sophistication to keep the most discerning parents happy combined with plenty to keep children entertained.
Set back from Mjorda Beach the hotel and its stunning infinity pool looks out across the lush landscape of paddy fields, as does the smaller infinity children’s pool with safety rails and mini black and white sun loungers. As well as delicious fruit drinks and afternoon tea, you’ll also find an ice cream trolley by the pool.
The Kids’ Club, with trained attendants, will keep children under six happy with crafts and games while older children will enjoy the Teen Zone, a large room with table tennis, table football, Wii sports games and more. Plus, there’s a cinema with daily film screenings at 3 and 7 pm and a babysitting service and plenty of additional organised activities and a complimentary shuttle to the nearby beach.
A number of excellent restaurants and a superb spa complete the picture.
Alila Diwa is about a 30-minute transfer to Goa International Airport and is equally suited to a luxury break for two as it is a family holiday.
Lotus Nature Cure | Wellness hotel in South Goa
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Recommended by Lora, Explore with Lora
Goa is one of the best places in India to practice yoga and there is no shortage of wonderful retreats to visit. I spent a week at Lotus Nature Cure which I loved. With the small class sizes, prepared meals, and idealistic setting near a beach, it’s the perfect place to unwind and recharge.
Set in the small village of Orlim, South Goa, Lotus Nature Cure is the home of an excellent yoga instructor. The rooms are spacious and well-kept, each with a beautiful balcony overlooking the lush garden where yoga is practised.
A 7-day package costs $300 USD and includes two daily yoga classes, all meals, a daily massage, and transport to the beach. This rate is based on double occupancy, but a single room can be arranged for an additional $140 per week.
Three nutritious meals are served each day based on the Ayurvedic diet. There is no pool, but guests have free time to go to the nearby beach where you can swim. The owner is happy to drive you there or you can cycle. Some evenings, sunset yoga classes are held on the beach.
There are some small shops and restaurants on the road near the hotel. The owner will drive you to the nearest town if you need more supplies.
This resort is well suited to both solo travellers, couples, and friends who have an interest in learning more about yoga. They limit the number of guests to six at a time. When I was here, there was a mix of three solo travellers and a group of three friends.
Nature Lotus Cure is about an hour away from the Goa International Airport, and transfers can be easily arranged for an additional $20.
O3 Beach Resort | Mid-range hotel in South Goa
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Suggested by Soujanya from The Spicy Journey
O3 Beach Resort is about a one and a half hours transfer to Goa International Airport and is a great choice for couples on a mid-range budget.
The Leela, Mobor | Luxury hotel in South Goa
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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.
The Leela is about 45-minute transfer to Goa International Airport. It’s the perfect choice for a romantic, luxurious break.
Three things you must pack when visiting Goa
1. Anti-malaria tablets
It’s perfectly safe to travel to India as long as you take the necessary precautions. Thousands of holidaymakers travel there and have a fabulous time but malaria can kill so it is not worth taking the risk. You can buy anti-malaria tablets online, via a pharmacy, or from your GP.
2. Mosquito repellent
Even though you are taking anti-malaria tablets, it’s safer still if you don’t get bitten. Mosquito bites can also be unsightly, as well as uncomfortable so a reliable mosquito repellent is invaluable. Rohan offer a great range of insect repellents as well as first aid kits, blister kits, sunblock and mosquito
3. Mosquito repellent clothing
When I first heard about mosquito repellent clothing I was a little dubious but, having tried it for myself, I can verify that it works. My favourite item is this sarong, but there’s a great range of shirts, hats and trousers available with mosquito repellent impregnated with mosquito repellent. I can also recommend the Rohan range of anti-insect clothing for men and women.
Don’t forget your travel insurance!
I never travel without insurance. If something goes wrong, the cost implications of not having insurance are just too great and I’ve needed mine more than once. World Nomads offers insurance to residents of over 130 countries and are particularly suited to long term travel as well as single trip holidays.
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I never travel without insurance. If something unexpected goes wrong the costs implications are just too high to take the risk. World Nomads provides travel insurance to travellers from over 130 countries. They're the perfect choice for long term travellers or single trip insurance.
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