My partner and I were travelling through India for the Christmas holidays. For the most part our trip has been wonderful until we came to Kumarakom. We chose this homestay because it had the highest rating on Tripadvisor under the BnB category. We expected it to be simple but clean and picturesque. We chose the package on their website for 9,000 INR which included one night stay in the homestay (A/C) and one night stay on the houseboat (A/C) including breakfast, lunch and dinner. When we reached out to Xavier (the owner) he said that prices had increased to 14,000 INR from 9,000 INR because it’s the holiday season. Xavier told us that we had to deposit 10,000 INR into his account before this could be booked. This should have raised a red flag because there was no way we would be able to get the money back if quality, service and hygiene were lacking.
To begin with the homestay is very difficult to find and our driver had to call Xavier multiple times to get there. When we finally got to our room the bathroom floor had mud on it. We asked to have it cleaned and the cleaner went in but the mud was still there when he came back out so we didn’t bother asking again and just made do. There were also cobwebs on the ceiling as well as on the ceiling fan. Moreover, the ceiling fan looked like it hadn't been dusted in years. I was expecting it to at least be cleaned before we got there but it appears as if they barely made an effort. When we asked for lunch because it was part of our package Xavier looked at us quizzically and said "let me check first to see if this was confirmed in our email exchange." We were a little confounded by this as he should already know this beforehand but it looks like preparation is not his forte. We waited until he got back to us to say that yes, indeed we had paid for breakfast, lunch and dinner and would be receiving it. The food is prepared by Xavier's wife and it is quite tasty. That was the only positive aspect of our stay there. When it was finally time to go to bed after dinner we caught sight of about 3 spiders and 2 tiny cockroaches in the bedroom. I understand that this was the backwaters and insects are to be expected but this just made my skin crawl on top of everything else.
We just wanted the morning to come so we could finally leave the homestay and head to the houseboat. When we asked Xavier if he would accompany us to the houseboat to do a quality check before we boarded he said that he would but then backed out at the last minute and ordered an auto rickshaw to take us there without him. He had also told us that the houseboat belonged to him but when we got to the boat the driver of the boat told us that the boat actually belongs to Xavier's friend. At this point we were not surprised to hear that either. I guess we should have known that the boat did not belong to Xavier because it was clean and looked nice. The food prepared on the boat was quite delicious but after the meal the driver of the boat took a nap and we had to wake him up so we could get going. He ended up sending the second in line/the cook to man the boat while he continued to sleep . The boat cruised from 12:30 pm to 5:30 pm with a one hour break in between for lunch. We asked if we could watch the sunset on the lake before it was docked for the night but the driver said that he had to dock it outside the owner's home and so we couldn't watch the sunset. This put a real damper on the evening as the sunset is quite spectacular on the lake. The boat is basically docked from 5:30 pm to 9:00 am so you don’t get much time to cruise the lake or the backwaters. Overall it just felt like a rip off.
If you are going to book the homestay my advice to you would be to not pay a deposit beforehand. There are lots of homestays and houseboats that you can book without paying a deposit up front. If we had not already given Xavier the 10,000 INR we would have left the place as soon as we saw our room. Xavier and his friend who owns the houseboat are only out for a cash grab. Shame on them!
- Also Known As:
- Backwater Heritage Homestay Kumarakom, Kerala