We were assigned a newly renovated room with excellent view of the gardens, palm trees, the sea and nightly sunsets. We were very pleased with the design, decor and quailty of the hotel room. Our room attendant, Raul, was most pleasant and did a perfect job of maintaining our room each day.
The hotel drive entry is very pretty and gives one a feeling they are arriving at a luxury property. Then you enter the lobby. While the lobby is large, with lots of seating. It is old, drab and lacks the impact of the hotel exterior. Despite the great view from the lobby there is no lounge type facility in the lobby area to enjoy a drink and snack. It screams "renovate me please!".
However, making up for the lackluster lobby, the reception desk staff are bright, cheerful and welcoming! Afsal M tended to our check-in with much warmth and attention and provided us with his five star service consistently throughout our stay.
The pool is perfect in size and design. Nice loungers. We do not lay out in the sun so wish there were cabana facilities. Most hotels lack these so it is not a negative. The fitness center consists of one elliptical machine and one tredmill and is part of the ayurvedic spa. The spa room we saw was stark and plain. We opted not to book any treatments so cannot review the hotel spa services. The fitness machines are not accessible until 7am.
The restaurant is smallish with basic modern decor. There is covered outdoor seating were most guests choose to use. The hotel sets up tables on the lawn outside the restaurant for dinner. There is a buffet setup for breakfast and dinner. The spread is not extensive, but sufficient. We found that the hotels we stayed at had buffets with foods to cater to non Indians. We love Indian food so ordered our evening meals from the ala carte menu which tends to be more authentic and sppicer than the buffet offerings. We found this to also be the case at The Gateway. We enjoyed our meals very much... including our room service order which was delivered in a very timely fashion. The restaurant staff are young friendly guys. We enjoyed the attentive service proved by Atool and Ligin very much!
The town and beach are very near the hotel. Guests can walk down a pathway from the back of the hotel or feom the hotel driveway area. The pathway is only accessable feom 7am to 7pm. There is a gate at the top of the footpath which is locked after 7pm. As a Trip Advisor user it was an interesting experience uaing the foot path as one has to walk right up allng a few of the hotel properties we read about on the site. One was one of our other top choices. It was very different in reality and we were so pleased we booked The Gateway. Also, one can see The Hindustan Hotel from the Gateway. Nice beachfront location, but still, The Gateway is far superior.
The north cliff, the area with all the restaurants and shops, is just a bit far for convenient walking to and from the hotel. We simply hired a cheap auto rickshaw from "the helipad" back to the hotel.
The hotel charges for internet access (arrrgh, don't ya just hate that!). There is a cafe in the town very near the footpath that offers free internet. Made for a nice morning coffee. Not sure if they can provide a computer as we had a tablet that we carried with us.
Overall, we were completely happy with our choice to stay at The Gatway and highly recommend it for visitors to Varkala who want to be near but not in the midst of the north cliff acttion. The cliff is great for day visit and dinner but seems it would be too much of the same old thing day after day. The Gateway fills the niche very, very well. We would love to see the hotel once it is completely refurbished with a lobby that reflects its exterior and hearts of the staff!
Lotus Cafe: located on the south cliff is a must, must, must! Not the easiest place to find, but so well worth the lovely stroll. Easiest way is to take the stairs from across "the tank" to the right of the temple stairs, turn left at the top, turn right once at the back of the temple and keep walking. Real espresso, a view of the sea with eagles flying so close you can take a clear photo of them and warm service! Honestly, sitting at this cafe on the edge of the cliff with those eagles is now one of my top three favorite and amazing spots I have ever experienced.
Temple Elephant: One can see the temple elephant on the walk to the cafe. Not a pretty site as it is chained to a tree and exposed to the harsh sun. Sad to see, but if you have never been up close to an elephant here is your chance. Please stay out on the roadway and do not go anywhere near the elephant!
One can access the back of the temple area for some nice photo opportunites too! Please be respectful and do not go very far inside the temple courtyard area. It is not a site seeing spot, but an opportunity to see some of the temple.
Souvenirs: Wonderful hand made paintings using vegetables for coloring. Just before Maria's beauty salon. Tiny hole in the wall place. It is managed by the sons of the artist. Original and unique. Each piece is priced based on the time it took to make and they come is a variety of sizes.
Varkala vs Kovalam: Hands down Varkala!
Hotel: The Gateway is the top upscale option!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- It is set amidst tall, swaying palms and is 60 ft high on a cliff, Varkala is located 55 kms (1 hr 15 m drive) from Thiruvananthapuram International Airport. The railway station is a 5 minute drive from the hotel. The hotel offers a choice of 30 elegant rooms including 2 suites. A multi-cuisine restaurant and 2 bars, meeting room, Ayurvedic center, WiFi and indoor/outdoor sports facilities makes the hotel an ideal getaway for the discerning leisure traveler. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Gateway Hotel Janardhanapuram Varkala Kerala