Charming secrets that most tourists may never find out
WelcomHeritage Panjim Pousada
This is situated slap-bang in the bustle of the Fontainhas, the Latin Quarter of Panjim. Here is where restaurants still serve Old Country Portuguese food, bands still play fadosas and the elderly dance. The Panjim Inn and the Panjim Pousada, with their colonial architecture and old-world air, could not have been better located. This is like entering a time-machine, dialling the years back and stepping off into another era.
Up at Goa’s northernmost tip, this Portuguese fort is now a slice of heaven. It is perched atop a cliff overlooking the Sea and the Tiracol estuary. The seven rooms have been imaginatively named after the days of the week. The hotel offers al-fresco dining on the balustrade balconies of each room. With cascading bougainvillea on white-washed walls, every view is picture-perfect. There’s no swimming pool; but you have the beach almost to yourself.
Casa Palacio Siolim House
Casa and palacio used together evoke a palatial mansion that feels like home, and that is the perfect description for this heritage boutique hotel. Built over 330 years ago in 1675, the erstwhile home of the Governor of Macau is one of the last-standing examples of the Casa do Sobrado (the manor house). With just seven suites, this hotel guarantees perfect solitude. The in-house activities include Goan cooking (select your catch at the local market, then take it to the pan), river cruises down the gorgeous Chapora river and yoga classes.
This boutique property doesn’t have the vintage of some of the others on this list. But what it lacks in age, it makes up for in ambience. Designed by Tarun Tahiliani, The Sofala blends local influences with classic Portuguese aesthetics. It is nestled amid paddy fields along the banks of the Sinquerim river, and also has a villa with a rooftop swimming pool. A bonus: small dogs and cats are allowed on the property.
Tucked away in a leafy lane off the bustling Candolim Road, this hotel has a main villa (a stunning two-storeyed, five-bedroom home) and three smaller Portuguese-style cottages (Casinhas) enigmatically titled Leo, Libra and Capricorn. With al fresco bathing, a gorgeous ozone swimming-pool, a yoga-centre, massage facilities and home-cooked Goan food amidst rustling leaves and bird-calls, this boutique hotel makes you wish your home was like this.