Taj Garden Retreat, Varkala Accommodation
Staying in a Varkala Hotels gives the opportunity to enjoy the cliff, beach and the sea the best.
Elevated almost dangerously along the edge of cliffs, Varkala has a naturally beautiful setting. It is a low-key resort, a backpacker paradise. A golden beach lie close to Varkala's cliff edge, where restaurants play trance music and stalls sell the types of things every traveller might need: ethnic T-shirts, baggy trousers and silver jewellery.
In spite of the growing commercialism, Varkala beach Kerala is still a great place to watch the days slowly turn into weeks. The beach is a holy place, where Hindus come to make offerings for dead loved ones. They used to assist by priests who set up shop beneath the Hindustan Hotel.
You can while away days watching the mix of fishermen, Hindu rituals, volleyball-playing visitors, locals gazing at the sea and strolling backpackers that make up the traffic on the beach.
Dangers and Annoyances
The beaches at Varkala have strong currents; even experienced swimmers have been swept away. This is one of the most dangerous beaches in Kerala, so be careful and swim between the flags or ask the life-guards, where is the safest place to swim.
If women wear bikinis or even swimsuits on the beach at Varkala, they are likely to feel uncomfortably exposed to stares. Note that local people don't strip down on the beach. Wearing a sarong when out of the water will help avoid offending local sensibilities or attracting unwelcome attention. It pays to dress sensitively especially if you're going into Varkala town.
It seems as if every man and his dog have an ayurvedic related product or treatment to sell. Many aren't qualified practitioners. Ask for recommendations before you go to get herbalized.
Most of the Varkala hotels are crammed in along the north cliff; some open only for the tourist onslaught in November. Less developed Odayam beach, about a kilometre further north of Varkala's black beach, is a tranquil alternative. If you want to be away from the crowd, choose one of the hotels in Varkala in this area. The commission racket is alive and well - make sure that your rickshaw takes you to the place you've asked for.
On the quiet Odayam Beach north of Varkala, there are just four wooden bungalows at the 'Pink Elephant'. Made of coconut wood and bamboo, with private verandas, they are stylish, great value and the best choice on this beach. There is a restaurant. Get here before the beach is ruined by any more buildings.
Tel: 0470 2261O296
This romantic retreat has just a handful of huge, bright rooms in a large house, each with a balcony and decorated with a chic blend of minimalist modern and period touches. The delicious breakfast is served on your veranda.
Tel: 0470 22603910
Overlooking peaceful paddy fields, this place has rooms with high wooden ceilings and attractive wooden furniture, set around a lush lily pond. Suites are organically shaped like white space-mushrooms, but inside they are romantic and fantastic all, with paintwork, round beds and mosaic circular baths. A recommended ayurvedic resort is based here.
The Gateway Hotel (By Taj Group)
Tel: 0470 6673300
Rebranded, revamped, refurbished, the Taj Garden Retreat Varkala is looking hot-especially the new rooms, with beds covered in gleaming linen and mocha cushions and with glass shower cubicles in the bathrooms complete with electric blinds. There is a fantastic pool in the resort. One of the best Varkala Hotels
Tel: 0470 22606994
Way back in the palm groves, family-run Jicky's remains friendly as they come. The regular rooms are lovely and fresh, surrounded by lots of leafiness. There are two double cottages, and some larger rooms for three to four in two smaller whitewashed, wooden-shuttered buildings.
Tel: 0470 23202007
A wood lined bungalow set around a charming little garden. Rooms with sea view are pricier.
Tel: 0470 022600096
This Keralite-German-run place has spacious rooms, all neatly furnished with homely decorations and art by owner Chicku. The pricier rooms have sea views, and the trim little garden out the back is a bonus.
Guest House Varkala Tel: 0470 26O2227
A government-run guesthouse with several rooms in huge Kerala-styled bungalows that were once part of a palace complex. Though simple, each basement abode is finished with lots of polished wood and has incredibly high ceilings.
New Heaven has easy access to Black Beach and great top-floor views. Bedrooms are large, basic with big blue bathrooms and hanging wicker chairs out the front for lazing.
Sea Pearl Chalets
Tel: 0470 22660105
Perched on Varkala's southern cliff, these small, basic, pod like huts have unbeatable views and are surrounded by prim lawns. Definitely worth checking out before they tumble into the Ocean.
Kerala Bamboo House
For that bamboo-hut experience, this popular place has dozens of pretty Balinese-style huts on a cliff- top compound and a carefully maintained garden. Some of the huts are nicer than others, so look at a few. Some huts have muralled outdoor showers and are wood lined. Cheaper ones don't have hot water.
Santa Claus Village Resort
This simple but appealing cliff-front option has small rooms in traditional Kerala themed buildings, with fetching bits of furniture and lots of teak-wood flair. The four rooms at the front have windows facing out to sea.
Tel: 0470 22603257
The large, orderly rooms in this pink building all offer sea views and share a large veranda-perfect for nightly sunset watching.