Bearing in mind that this review is starting at 5 stars, here are few tips for those for whom it probably isn't the right place. If you want very luxurious rooms, these might not be for you: our room was simply furnished, with plain wooden floorboards, but comfortable and a good size. If you want a pristine beach with perfect views, it certainly isn't- the beach is not clean as it is constantly having weed and general wrack washing up on it. But then you are probably in the wrong country. Try Northumberland.
So why 5 stars? Well, we stayed a week in December and received quite simply the best service we have ever come across in any hotel anywhere. Service is not really the right word: we were looked after as if we were family. We arrived not in the best of health after a week in Chennai. My wife has a severely restricted diet. All the staff went out of their way to help us, to make us as comfortable as possible, to see that we had everything we needed. I am bewildered by some of the comments by some reviewers- although perhaps I should not be, given the rudeness shown by certain guests towards staff during our stay. I could see the dismay on the faces of staff, and if some guests thought the service fell short, perhaps they brought it on themselves. It is true that some staff had very limited English, and some of the waiters were being trained. But they were all willing and friendly- I can't fault anyone on that score- and everyone has to learn at some time. Everyone asked after us.
If I were to single out any individuals for thanks, I should mention Chef Jeya Paul, who undertook to cook individually for my wife, catering for her coeliac-plus-other-restrictions diet, and produced the plain and simple meals she needed which still managed to taste great. He also took control of the wretched business of ensuring the half-cooked gluten-free bread rolls were toasted in an appropriate environment. Coeliacs (all right- Celiacs to some of you) will know what a pain it usually is trying to get fed away from home. Here they were more than willing to do what was necessary to get it right.
I must also mention Mr Suraj Rajkumar, Vice President, who was unfailingly courteous, friendly, knowledgeable, and (when other duties permitted) a delightful conversationalist. He also waived the half-day's charge due because we needed the room until 11pm (checkout having been at midday), for which we were particularly grateful.
Other aspects of the hotel for comment:
The en-suite bathroom was spacious, clean and well equipped, with a good shower and plentiful hot water (never an issue).
Air-con worked fine throughout.
I found the bistro very good (when able to make use of it)- excellent Keralan curries in particular.
The swimming pool was in good order (although the pool bar wasn't functioning, this was hardly a problem as staff brought you anything you wanted anyway). The water was clean, and the inevitable leaves fallen onto it were skimmed off within 10 minutes on request. Some of the paintwork is perhaps looking a bit tired.
I can't comment on the fitness centre as I didn't use it.
I can recommend the foot and head massages.
And while the beach might not be on a par with something out of the Bahamas, and the view out to sea does include a refinery, you shouldn't underestimate just how pleasant and relaxing it is to sit out on the comfortable sofas in front of the building, shaded by umbrellas and trees, being brought drinks while you watch the sun sinking into the sea. The refinery is to the right, and easily ignored anyway.
They put out mosquito-repelling coils at sunset, but use of bugspray is plain common sense. We stank of deet, but didn't get bitten except when we forgot.
Location of the hotel is well away from the town centre, in a quiet location. It's a 10-minute walk to shops, after spending 5 minutes waving away offers of lifts from the ubiquitous tuk-tuks, who all want you to 'do them a favour' by letting them take you to various shops for which they get a reward (and you get to spend a great deal if you don't watch it). There's plenty of wildlife to entertain if interested- kites and eagles overhead, a kingfisher, a bittern and long-billed sunbird a few yards away.
There is live music some nights- a local band played at the weekend, but, unlike the Taj we stayed in where the disco went on at full volume until 02.30, here it finished at 10.30 sharp. There was also a fusion band one evening who were quite remarkable.
We were given a lovely present when we left, and we left feeling more like family than guests.
In summary, this is a quiet, elegant hotel in pleasant gardens staffed by people who are clearly working hard to provide their guests with the highest standards of service and care. I recommend it wholeheartedly.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Chic luxury heritage boutique hotel in Fort Kochi. This is the latest treasure that has been created with great outdoor dining by the sea, one of the only spas that offers both western and traditional treatments in the area, and an infinity pool with great views of the sea and the English style garden. The indoor lounge is fantastic for a relaxing evening. The lighthouse bears witness to many a ship passing by and the ships that sail by seem to walk into the property. The hotel was the residence of the founder of Cochin port Sir Robert Bristow and has been receiving great reviews from all its guests. The hotel is a true sanctuary to relax and rediscover yourself. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Old Lighthouse Bristow Hotel Kochi (Cochin), India - Kerala