The centre of the country's cashew trading and processing industry, Kollam is also the gateway to the majestic backwaters of Kerala. Kollam is still not a popular destination among the tourists. But it is an excellent place to experience the backwaters if you are not going to Alleppey or Kumarakom. Kollam is easily accessible from Trivandrum, Kovalam and Varkala.
You can find a few backwater resorts in Quilon and some business hotels in the town.
This new joint in the list of Quilon Hotels is the only real five star hotel in Kollam.
The Quilon Beach Hotel
Beautiful views of the beach are the big plus of this seaside five-star. All categories of rooms have the sea views. They have less space for the price, and service isn't great. But there is a rooftop pool, and an infinity pool at lobby level. The hotel has a multi-cuisine restaurant, modest spa and gym.
Cambay Palm Lagoon
Delightful setting 18 km from town centre on north side of Ashtamudi lake, can be reached from backwater cruise. Attractive thatched cottages, includes full board.
Fragrant Nature Retreat and Resorts
A 4-star luxury lakeside resort with spa, swimming pool and Jacuzzi. Accommodation in lakeside rooms or villas.
15 mins from town by road or boat, Splendid backwaters location, well-furnished chalets (some reassembled Kerala houses) with TV, restaurant, Ayurvedic massage/treatment, boat rides.
Club Mahindra Backwater Retreat Ashtamudi
Chavara South (north of town)
30 mins by car, 10 mins by speedboat. Ayurvedic resort with 20 rooms in 5 traditional chalets (Queen's Cottages and King's Palace more expensive), all a/c with good views. Catamaran trips.
This boutique business hotel is a surprise in Kollam's busy centre, and exceptionally good value. Built by a cashew magnate, it is gorgeously designed and mixes traditional Kerala elements and modern lines for a sleek look. Even the cheaper rooms have flat-screen TVs, feathery pillows and sumptuous bathrooms.
Tel: 0474 2746538
Overlooking the backwaters, across the lake from the ferry terminal, this has big, airs bright orange, slightly tired rooms, with great views.
Government Guest House
Tel: 0474 22743620
In a colonial-era relic that's all whitewashed walls, tall varnished shutters and dusty grandeur, this guesthouse offers crumbling rooms with high ceilings and wooden floors. They're a bargain, but isolated 3km north of the centre on Ashtamudi Lake.Book ahead.
If you're just passing through and want somewhere clean and comfortable to crash in for a night, and aren't fussy about the view, give this business-oriented place on the north side of town a try. It is ugly from the outside, and the rooms have no balconies, zero outlook and even less character, but they're huge for the price, and gleaming. The standard ones are the best value.
Tel: 0474 2701546
This has an amazing location, crowning a breezy peninsula surrounded by leisurely backwaters on three sides. The four enormous rooms come with lots of windows to enjoy the views and the breeze. It is a good choice for families. Call ahead for a boat pick-up, catch a public ferry from Kollam, or grab an autorickshaw to get here. The tourist boat from Alleppey also stops here before it docks at Kollam. Get here before 2013, when it is set to close.
Run by the amiable Mr Sahshi, this trio of suburban homstays offer simple, characterful accommodation on the northwestern edge of town near, or next to, the sea. Pick of the bunch is "No.3", a cosy wood cabin with only three rooms opening onto a wonderful veranda enfolded by palm trees, slap on the sea wall. "No.1" is an older structure, also next to the waves, but more spartan. "No.2", a former family house 5 mins walk from the shore in a leafy residential area, is large enough for a group and has its own garden.
Simple brick huts set on the water edge, among nodding palms, which are much closer to town.
Sudarsan is welcoming enough. Set around a car-park-courtyard, but rooms are plain and dull, if comfortable. Those at the front are noisy. There is a good restaurant.
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