This spacious and charming property set between two small rivers was a beautiful base for our temple visits in Kumbakonam, though I can easily imagine staying there for a week on a quiet personal retreat. An open temple for Annapurna Devi surrounded by a pond creates a beautiful welcome.
The rooms consist of traditional style cottages with big porches, comfortably designed for modern travelers. The whole ambiance was peaceful and refreshing. We enjoyed long walks through the gardens, as well as South Indian coffee at the traditional tea stall set in the gardens in easy access to the cottages. That was a fun place to meet other guests.
One evening the hotel offered a South Indian violin concert for the guests. The musicians were outstanding.
The restaurant is a separate spacious building, with traditional furniture and decor and lots of outdoor patio seating. They serve an excellent selection of South and North Indian specialities, as well as lots of Chinese and Western dishes. Breakfast is an extensive buffet. At lunch they offer a traditional South Indian thali in three sizes, which we really enjoyed (the smallest size!) and at dinner there was both a buffet and lots of a la carte options. The food was so good we didn't think of eating elsewhere, even though Kumbakonam is reputed to have many interesting places to eat. The restaurant staff were lovely.
The hotel staff were all warm and helpful. The manager Mr. Nagarajan was extremely helpful with every detail, including giving our driver detailed directions to find some of the very out of the way temples we wanted to visit.
The road linking the resort to the main road is a bit of a challenge - very bumpy with a narrow bridge to cross (our Innova just made it with only inches to spare). But it's only for about 1-2km. And the reward of arriving is worth it.
The hotel has just come under new management and they are keen to upgrade lots of touches like adding small safes in the rooms.
The property is situated in a very beautiful and spacious garden, the room (a deluxe villa, in our case) is really spacious, with a semi-open air bathroom (with 1 sink and 2 toilets side by side, something never seen before, we do not know how useful).
In the garden there are geese, peacocks, parrots and the inevitable and nice squirrels. The cottages are very beautiful and elegant, the entire hotel has its own beauty and elegance, although at the moment quite neglected, at least at our Western eyes. The food at the (very nice) restaurant is ok, the waiters did really everything they could to meet our needs, despite being clearly inexperienced and untrained.
The lack of a safety box is really a weak point for a 4 stars structure. This forced us to always turn with our small trolley, with inside not only our money but also computers, tablet and camera. Moreover, apart from the entrance, we noticed that there is not a real surveillance, another weakness in a property set in a so big garden and in an secluded area.
Another very weak point is the 600 mt access road, which is full of holes (our backs remember this very well). It would be fair that the hotel management would take care of this access road. Also at the beginning of the road there is a bridge so narrow that also our normal car could hardly cross. We have noticed that when a minibus of guests arrived, the bus couldn't cross the bridge and the hotel employees made back and forth with a car to take guests into the structure.
The Spa exists as a place but is open only on request, with staff that comes from outside: for this reason we renounced to ask for massages, in the absence of a previous direct human contact.
The shop was always closed during our stay.
Wifi is very slow and inconstant, as soon as more guests arrived it stopped working. Some typical and useful things were also missing in our room, such as abat jours, a kettle and the "do not disturb / redo the room" sign. The service has been always friendly and helpful but not at the level of a structure such as this.
Our opinion is that Kumbakonam is a place where tourists stop at the best for one night (when we arrived the hotel was empty) and this affects a hotel like this. Perhaps a place so beautiful and full of potential, with a more present and careful management, could become a place deserving a visit in and of itself.
The rooms at Mantra are quite nice - old world charm with lovely open-air bathrooms. the property is also peaceful, so this is an ideal spot if one wants a relaxing break from hectic city life. But here the positives end.
There were some issues with the wi-fi; I needed to get a fresh password each day from the reception and they didn't volunteer it, I had to run behind them.
The food at their restaurant is very average; for a resort set deep in the Tamil heartland, there were surprisingly few South Indian dishes and the northern food was nothing to rave about. Breakfast was awful; if you came late, almost nothing was replenished and one had to make do with soggy vadas and cold idlis. Table cutlery was never replaced and we had to repeatedly ask for basics like water and spoons.
I was most disappointed with the filter coffee - it was horrible, and all my expectations of 'Kumbakonam Degree Coffee' went out the window.
There are mosquitoes and millipedes outside, so you need to ensure your door is always shut. We even had to chase a huge lizard out at 11pm!
Come here without expectations - if there are other options you are considering, please give this one a miss.
Apparently this hotel came under the control of a new company at the beginning of the year.
I hope they are able to spend enough money, time and hotel management skills to turn this very tired, sprawling retreat into the magical place it could be.
I would highly recommend you wait until they do!
And I hope they can do something to improve access.
Vintage homes. Clean and spacious room. No television and internet - good to be disconnected from the world. Good to wake up with nature.calm and away from the city. Nice for relaxing.
Food was average. Expected little more quality in taste and options