This sliver of a mini-France on the Coromondel Coast spoils you for choice with a vast range of heritage and contemporary hotels
1. The Promenade
23, Goubert Avenue, Opp Gandhi Statue on Beach Road
The Promenade, run by the leather goods company Hidesign, is a beautiful getaway that faces the Bay of Bengal. Its whitewashed exterior harks to the French Colonial era building, but inside is a polished and modern hotel, complete with in-room spa therapy and a shimmering mosaic swimming pool. Its proximity to the beach gives its rooms and restaurants a great view, and its location in the French Quarter is centralised enough to keep shops, restaurants and galleries just a short walk away. The Promenade Pondicherry has all modern facilities that suit business as well as personal stay. Check in advance for room availability and booking well in advance.
2. Le Dupleix
5, Rue De La Caserne
If there is a way to experience the heritage of Pondicherry in one sweep, it’s through Le Dupleix. The 14-suite building was built in the 18th century as the residence of the French mayor. Today, it sits in the heart of the French Quarter, and is your passport to Pondicherry’s rich history. Each room is decorated differently, but all echo the rich wooden interiors and furniture of a Colonial era. It is at walking distance from the shopping district and is surrounded by hip cafes and restaurants. Don’t let its old world charm fool you; the Wi-fi is zippy and the beautiful bathrooms with tubs will tempt you to stay indoors forever. Book into Le Dupleix Pondicherry for a great stay in the weekend. Advance bookings are also possible online.
3. Maison Perumal
No 44 (Old no 58), Tamil Quarter
Let the name of this hotel guide you to your experience. Maison Perumal is, as the moniker suggests, a perfect marriage of French and Tamil influences. The building sits in the Tamil Quarter, and is a fine example of French Colonial architecture. The Aurobindo ashram and promenade are just a stone’s throw away. With the excellent food on offer, you really won’t feel like stepping out. Fresh catch of the day is fried with a mind-boggling mix of spices, so perfectly balanced that you might want to extend your stay a few more days. Check availability and other factors for Maison Perumal A CGH Earth Group, Pondicherry and then do the bookings online.
4. Hotel de L’Orient
17, Rue Romain Rolland
This old French villa has been converted to a heritage hotel by the Neemrana chain of hotels. Typical to their ethos, they’ve maintained the charm of its Indo-Colonial art and architecture, and your stay here therefore is one of homely luxury. The open courtyard is one its best features, and the perfect place to grab a bite of Pondicherry’s famous Creole food – a heady mix of Tamil spices and French cooking. Each room has its own charm, dictated by its name and therefore decoration – for example Chandernagore, the former French territory in West Bengal has two beautiful delicate brass queen sized beds, while Karikal is dominated by a massive king size bed, so high that it’s got its own set of steps to reach it. Live in the Neemrana Hotel De Lorient, Pondicherry for a fine and relaxing vacation. It has all the amenities of a top notch hotel and you are sure to enjoy the stay.
5. Dune Eco Village and Spa
As their manifesto says, the Dune Eco Village and Spa is more a way of life than just a resort. We’re talking 55 bungalows on 35 acres by the beach, with organic menus and Ayurvedic treatments. In an earlier time, the bungalows were Chettinad palaces, planter’s cottages or colonial houses. Today they’ve been souped up with solar water systems and organic linen. They do have quite a few air-conditioned rooms and suites, but there are some that are cooled only by the sea breeze. Creature comforts of 24-hour room service, swimming pools, and a DVD library coexist with an organic vegetable garden, 700 miles of beach, and an open-air auditorium. Nature lovers would enjoy their stay at The Dune Eco Village and Spa, Pondicherry because it has the perfect natural ambience. Book online to avail special discounts.
The best way to discover Pondicherry is on foot. The town is full of quirky corners that sell everything from handmade paper to posh indie designed organic linen blousons. The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage’s (INTACH) tours of the Tamil and French quarters are a good starting point.
Best Time to Visit:
The winter months between October and February are tourist seasons when the temperature is cool enough to gallivant around town. Summer (March-June) gets very hot, while the monsoons (July-September) can have sporadic light to heavy rainfall.