Secret Garden was the first stay of our holiday in Kerala booked through Kerala Connections who I must congratulate on sourcing unique properties offering wonderful hospitality. Having missed a night's sleep travelling we were hot, tired and bit weary when we arrived but our energy levels picked up immediately we drove through the gates of Secret Garden - a lovely quiet haven away from the main hustle and bustle of Fort Cochin, but within very easy walking distance of all the sights. We were immediately offered a lovely fresh juice.
We were in a standard room which was beautifully furnished and included a mosquito net over the four poster bed. I recommend that all guests read the owner (Thora's) photo journal that takes you through the whole journey from her buying the property, designing and overseeing the renovations of the original part of the heritage home, and the build of the new rooms (all of which have been done in total keeping with the style of the property, right down to the materials used and the sourcing of the furnishings). It really makes you admire and appreciate the property even more. The authenticity even stretches to the style of towels provided - very different to what we in the west are used to - but they worked brilliantly!
The rooms have tea and coffee making facilities and a fridge, and lovely freshly brewed coffee is also available if wanted (we needed it after our long journey). We had a lovely covered verandah area outside our room overlooking the pool which we enjoyed - but take care of the mossies and other biting insects at dusk and apply spray early if you're sitting outside!
Breakfasts were really tasty. Whilst more western based this was the only place we had 'proper' organic home baked bread rather than the standard 'toasting bread' The fruit salads, honey, yogurts and home made muesli were really tasty as were the other daily options.
The staff (and of course Thora) were all really friendly and helpful and happy to give recommendations (without being pushy).
I loved the morning yoga, swimming in the pool and using the floatation hats and bands that help you float effortlessly and relax - even if they look quite amusing.
All in all Secret Garden has been designed and built with love and has a wonderful feel about it - thank you to everyone (including the young chap who works the late shift and helped me with my email access problems) for a memorable stay.
India Someday booked this hotel for my husband and I and we thoroughly enjoyed our stay. Beautifully renovated heritage property and friendly helpful staff. Refreshing pool right outside our door. There are mosquitos here but we just had to remember to apply our natural insect repellant - if you didn't bring any supposedly there is a local natural repellant that works well. The rooms were comfortable and quiet. The traditional bath was a bit of an experience. The breakfasts were part European but lots of variety and delicious. The cook is excellent. We weren't quite so thrilled with dinner. We picked our protein and the price was quite expensive but we were surprised when all we got was one seafood curry each with chapattis and rice. No alcohol licence so water and juices were the only choice. The food was fresh and tasty - just seemed very skimpy compared to the other meals we were served here. The yoga class in the morning was excellent - excellent location for yoga and an excellent teacher. The location worked very well for us - walking distance to everything we wanted to do and there was no shortage of auto rickshaws around. I just have two things to note - not so much complaints but as observations 1. No one seemed to be clearly in charge making things a little confusing. The owner was there and seemed to be overseeing everything and communicating with us but didn't seem to want to be involved in any of the details of the hotel. There was a manager but we didn't see him around much and didn't know where his office was until the end. There was a staff member who was around a fair bit - we didn't realize until the end that he was the person we should be paying. And then there was some confusion as to whether we had paid for the taxi ride from the airport - I was being told different things and the staff member taking payment didn't seem to have access to the records that would tell him what we needed to pay for. 2. We were picked up at the airport by a guy with a sign which simply said "Secret Garden". Having been warned repeatedly in Northern India about taxi drivers and guides steering you away I was suspicious. So he had to call the manager who luckily was around to confirm. I understand that it is a waste to do up a new sign for each new guest but it should be easy enough to write down the guest's name for the taxi driver to avoid confusion.
You could do no better than start your visit to Kerala by staying at this 100 year old traditional Kerala home, now converted to a boutique hotel that is more like a relaxed homestay property. Nine beautifully appointed rooms that comfortably sleep from 1 to 4 persons, set in three 2-storey blocks around a lovely swimming pool, is run by the ever helpful and affable Mr. Faisal and his minimal and multi-functional staff (Sunesh was particularly helpful.) Located deep in a residential area in Fort Kochi, close to many boutiques , restaurants, ancient churches and the famous Chinese fishing nets, it is accessed through a winding lane, and hence is really a secret hideaway and a delightful surprise.
What did I like about it? Everything! The large comfortable room decorated with old-style Kerala furniture, an ante-chamber with a day-bed and a vivid, hand-painted Kerala mural on the wall, a private verandah to lounge in, a lovely garden, free use of bicycles, the overall ambience, and the personlised service. There is an open verandah where they serve breakfasts daily, and next to it is the home-style kitchen where a single cook reigns over his domain. We were asked what we wanted for dinner, what fish or meats, what vegetables, and cooked in what style, then the cook went out to buy the provisions from the market and then whipped up a fantastic dinner for just our group of 6 people. The breakfast was simple enough eggs to order, with fresh home-made breads, jams, waffles or pancakes, fresh fruits, juice and a home-made muesli but I have to confess it was the best-tasting breakfast Id ever had! I might go back just for that breakfast!
The only negative was that we spent just a single night there. Still, hope to be back there soon.
Beautiful and relaxed setting, most of the important tourist places are walking or cycling distance. We were 7 adults and a kid.....had a great time, special mention for Sunesh who was very helpful and kind to all of us.
The Secret Garden is delightful. A perfect place to relax after a long flight. We stayed in the Temple Suite as a family which is beautifully designed with a hand painted mural surrounding one of the beds. It was incredibly spacious and had a lovely outdoor seating area looking over the pool. All the staff are very friendly and helpful and the home made meals and breakfast are delicious. We arranged a package while we were there involving having a driver for six days. Our driver was Muneer and he was fantastic! He took us through Munnar and Thekkady and was a safe, careful driver. He was very thoughtful, with great suggestions on what to do and where to eat.
We loved the Secret Garden so much that we put on an extra night before we went home- couldn't quite say goodbye once!