I have been fortunate to stay in many hotels around the globe, especially the middle east. One marble palace starts to look much like another after a while. All too often, websites can claim this and that for their hotels, and the photos are carefully taken to miss out the bad bits, only for the guest to be disappointed on arrival. And then we discovered the Old Harbour in Cochin. I don't know where to start to sing the praises of this wonderful hotel. The whole building has been refurbished to a very high standard, but I don't mean the 5 star blah of the International chains. The single word that sums it all up is 'taste'. The rooms are comfortable and spacious with lots of nice touches. No TV. What a delightful change for an upmarket hotel to have the foresight to omit the installation of the one-eyed monster. There is, however, wifi in the public areas, so if you need to stay in touch with the modern world, it can be done discreetly. The food was excellent. That said, we didn't actually have any of the western food, we stuck with the Keralan dishes as that was core to our visit. We ate in most nights - when we tried other restaurants, we realised what we were missing. The head chef (Shafi the chef!) would often ask the diners if everything was to their liking; not some fawning maitre d', but the chap who directly takes pride in what he and his team are producing. Plus you have the bonus of the live music, as a local trio gently plays haunting flute and tabla in the lovely setting of the dining area opening out onto the pool.
And then there are the rest of the staff. All the positive adjectives one could think of belong to these folk, including helpful, friendly, professional, discreet and attentive. Our trip was about stress relief and we let the staff organise various excursions for us, from the knowledgeable Jude to the ever cheerful Sukesh, to name but two. This they did as competitively as outside, but with all the hassle taken out of it for you. I thought it might be fun to hire one of those old Royal Enfield motorcycles for a day. No sooner had I mentioned it, than one was delivered to the main entrance of the hotel. Charge? Rps 700 - the same as 4 litres of petrol back home!
It is worth noting that the owner (not simply the manager) of the hotel is often there keeping a personal check on standards and I think that could be the root to the success of this wonderful hotel.
If you are looking to spoil yourself in Fort Kochi, this has to be the place.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- At the heart of ancient Fort Cochin, Kerala, a place that exudes history and culture, is the 'Old Harbour Hotel'. A 300 year- old building that has for long been a heritage monument of this town, now reopened as a boutique hotel. Built in the Dutch style of architecture with hints of Portuguese influences, it was the first hotel of old Cochin. Later it remained a residential home to employees of English Tea broking firms until it was left unused for a period of time. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Old Harbour Kochi
- Hotel Old Harbour
- Old Harbour Hotel Kochi (Cochin), Kerala