As our car pulled into a small sandy clearing in a quiet area of Fort Kochi, I felt my breath quieten. What stood before us was a whitewashed wall, with a beautifully polished wooden door. A brass plaque with a crest, affirmed this was the place. Le Colonial.
The non-hotel hotel, as Neemrana (the chain) called it. I was most intrigued to find out what that meant. After having stayed here, I now know what that means, there’s really no other term to describe it. Read on to find out.
Outside the door, to welcome us, was a bevy of staff and their smiling faces. We stepped into a lovely garden with trees, potted plants hanging from their branches, over a grassy lawn. A gardener was busy tending to them. To the left was a small pool, with a fountain, beside which we saw a couple of other guests basking in the morning sun.
We passed through a patio with clusters of cane furniture, into the main hall. Antique wood furniture, muted upholstery, tables laden with books and candles, sat on a beautiful wood floor, covered with antique carpets. We were welcomed with a cold towel and a refreshingly ice cold lemonade. As we stood there, taking it all in, I noticed the art on the walls, alluded to the Dutch heritage of this 500 year old building. First owned by the Dutch Governor Jan Van Spall, the 7 rooms are named after him and his esteemed guests from Vasco Da Gama to Tipu Sultan to Mahe de la Bourdonnais as well as the Aide de Camp, and then the British Viceroy who owned the property later. Each so uniquely distinct from the other, yet they all seem to belong to this house, umm hotel. Incidentally, the original Sales Deed to the house stands framed on a wall at the foot of the stairs. Charles stood looking at it for a long time. I guess that’s when the illustrious heritage of this place really seeps in.
The polished wooden staircase took us upstairs to our room. The Viceroy. The largest, the Viceroy has an attached terrace, with a couple of writing desks, a couple of lounge chairs and a coffee table. The wood flooring complemented by the cane blinds, that opened onto a lovely view of the garden and the quiet road. As we stepped back into the room, the blast of air-conditioning felt like such a relief from the scorching humid Kochi weather.
The room had a hushed old world charm about it, wooden flooring, carpets, two sets of plush upholstered armchairs, a beautiful antique dresser and cupboard, and a really high king sized bed that we just sank into. Lying in bed, I looked up at the high ceiling, white paneled wood, with a couple of really old fans. The curtains were a beautiful shade of mint and dull gold. We could really get used to this.
I decided to hop in for a quick shower, given the humid weather, but as soon as I entered the large bathroom, I changed my mind. Sure, there was a lovely shower to my left, but there, beyond the twin basins to my right sat a giant bathtub. Sparkling. Inviting. So glad I brought my bath salts, as I ran up the hot water. Only to get out and get on with the shower as I’d planned. The water was lukewarm. Not ideal for a long leisurely soak in the tub.
The evenings were lovely, as it got a bit cooler, and we could sit outside in one of the many interesting nooks and crannies of the property (especially since the property doesn’t have smoking rooms) but the mosquitoes made us wish we’d remembered to bring the repellant. The foyer upstairs doubled as a library with a vast collection of books that we were free to peruse.
Meals here are very different from what you would find at the average hotel. While there is a menu for the finicky ones, as well as in-room service, the chef can pretty much concoct anything your heart desires, from Continental to Indian cuisine, with sufficient notice of course. We asked him to surprise us, and enjoyed an authentic Kerala dinner, which comprised a fish curry, grilled prawns, sambaar, avvial, pachadi, moru curry with rice. Needless to say, we felt so spoiled; we were in a food coma by the end of it. Breakfast too, was quintessentially Kerala. A wheat puttu (a steamed cylinder of wheat layered with coconut) with egg curry. We thoroughly enjoyed the polite, efficient and friendly service.
Le Colonial set in what is probably the most upmarket area of old Fort Kochi, is in a quiet lane, right across from the Chinese fishing nets, and a quick 10 minute tuk tuk ride to Jew Town and all the shopping. Le Colonial’s neighbouring building is the St. Francis Church where Vasco da Gama was first buried. So it’s safe to say, we were easily within walking distance from almost everything there was to see in Fort Kochi.
Le Colonial is a great stay for a couple or a group of friends. The entire house, too, can be booked for a week. A room starts at Rs. 11,500/- a night.
Le Colonial, 1-315 Church Road, Vasco de Gama Square, Fort Kochi 682001 Tel. + 91 484 2217181 / + 91 484 2217182 / + 91 2217183 – Fax. + 91 484 2217184 – Email email@example.com
Le Colonial is part of the Neemrana Hotels group.