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A small town with deep historical roots, Fort Kochi is one of Kerala’s jewels. It was the first European township in India, and it gets its name partially for being the site of Fort Emmanuel, built by the Portuguese and later destroyed by the Dutch. Today, Fort Kochi is a cosmopolitan spot that still manages to hold onto its history and transport visitors to a bygone era. A walk through the town introduces you to Dutch, British, and Portuguese architecture, artsy cafés, the Jewish settlement, and ancient Chinese fishing nets. Staying in Fort Kochi means choosing between renovated heritage buildings, ocean-view hotels, and comfortable B&Bs. Below, we share our favorite lodging options.
Best Overall: Brunton Boatyard
Located on a historic stretch that was once the site of a Victorian shipyard, this five-star hotel is done up with English, Portuguese, and Dutch flourishes. Interiors are full of high ceilings, hanging fans, terracotta floors, lime plastered walls, old teak wood furniture, and portraits, photographs, and maps that give a glimpse of the region’s colonial past. There are 26 spacious rooms, 22 of which overlook the sea. Of the four dining spaces, the Pier and Terrace Grill are outdoors and look out over the harbor. The Armoury Restobar is adorned with weaponry, and History Fine Dining serves cuisines of the many different communities that have made Kochi their home.
Hotel amenities include a gym, gift shop, Ayurvedic spa, and pool. There is an emphasis on sustainability here: The hotel harvests rainwater and solar energy and serves treated rainwater in glass bottles. Complimentary services include a daily sunset cruise, afternoon tea and cake, and cooking demonstrations.
Best Budget: Raintree Lodge
This renovated lodge is covered in vines and located on a quiet street within walking distance to the major sites of Fort Kochi. There are five big rooms with en-suite bathrooms, simply decorated and equipped with AC. There are no in-house cooking facilities, but plenty of dining options nearby. The complimentary breakfast is served at Kashi Art Café, a five-minute walk away. The only outdoor/public area is a non-shaded terrace, which is ideal for spending quiet evenings looking out on the rooftops of Fort Kochi. The 24-hour front desk staff will help you with planning your stay and transportation, and there is a swimming pool at a nearby sister hotel that you can use for a fee. Reviewers warn there aren't a lot of extra luxuries here, but say that the price and location make it a great option.
Best Boutique: Old Harbour Hotel
This 300-year-old building was the first hotel in old Cochin, built in Dutch style with Portuguese influences. Today, it has been restored as a boutique hotel with 13 spacious rooms all named after the old streets of Fort Kochi, as well as garden cottages, which have outdoor open showers, a verandah, and a private pond. Guests can walk about the well-maintained gardens with wooden pathways, lounge by the pool, or enjoy a treatment at the Ayurvedic spa.
The hotel is big on organic fare, from the soaps and lotions in the bathrooms to the vegetables used in the food. And while there's no fitness center, you can take advantage of complimentary yoga every morning. The on-site restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating: Breakfast is served in the garden, as is a special seafood menu every night. Guests particularly love the personal, attentive service and central location of the place—perfect for exploring the fishing nets and the town itself.
Best Heritage: Neemrana’s Tower House
Centrally located and overlooking the sea and the Chinese fishing nets, this heritage hotel marks the spot of a 17th-century lighthouse. Today, the restored twin-house structure almost looks like a ship and features colonial pillars, high ceilings, wooden flooring, antique furniture, arched doors, and skylights. There are 13 unique rooms to choose from, with larger suites that can accommodate the whole family, rooms with first-floor access, and suites with their own private verandahs. A restaurant on-site serves local options for lunch and dinner, and breakfast is included in your stay. Reviewers particularly enjoy the gorgeous pool, garden, and charming sitting room and library inside. Within walking distance to many of the attractions and restaurants in Fort Kochi, the location is ideal for exploring.
Looking for more ideas? Take a peek at our round-up of beautifully restored boutique heritage hotels in India.
Best for Solo Travelers: Tea Bungalow
A rich history of spice and tea gave the bungalow, built in 1912, its current name. The hotel has 10 large en-suite rooms, each named after a port in the Indian Ocean that was involved in the spice and tea trade. The rooms feature large beds, ornate artwork, verandahs with cozy armchairs, luxury robes, and specially handcrafted sandalwood soap. There is no fitness center or bar/lounge, but the place offers the perfect opportunities to relax and unwind: a garden with fruit trees and bonsai that lights up at night, a small swimming pool lined with polished granite and sun loungers, and the Travancore Lounge with its well-stocked library and television. If asked, you will get to hear stories about the house’s history, too. The restaurant, Café Du Mahe, serves local and continental food, and you can sit outside and eat by the pool if you wish. There is also 24-hour room service.
Best Bed & Breakfast: SajHome
This homestay hotel is a truly authentic experience with family-style hospitality. There are six rooms, all clean and compact with AC, and a complimentary Keralan or continental breakfast is served on the balcony or terrace. You can ask for additional meals to be cooked for a fee. The Saj family who runs the place will arrange for airport pickup, Ayurvedic massages, boat cruises, cooking classes, and other excursions at your request. Though the view isn't the best, the homestay is within walking distance to major sites. Reviewers rave about how friendly and helpful the owner is and say that for the price, you cannot beat this place.
Best for Relaxation: Forte Kochi
Originally built by the Portuguese in the 1800s, the fully restored mansion was once home to a prominent Jewish family. Now a 27-room heritage hotel done up in a cheery yellow on the popular Princess Street, Forte Kochi blends Portuguese, Dutch, and British Old World influences with modern luxuries for a perfect escape for its guests. You'll have your choice of three levels of rooms, beautifully decorated with four-poster beds, window seats overlooking the courtyard, and bright tiled floors. The rooms also have free WiFi and fully stocked minibars, and you can ask for turndown service, newspapers to be delivered in the morning, and laundry.
The property itself is the perfect hideaway. The central courtyard is interspersed with plants and dominated by a pool with lounge chairs. The food here is also a big draw for travelers: The on-site restaurant, the Jetty, serves local Kerala fare, as well as pan Indian, pan European, and British cuisine, in addition to fresh seafood options. In-room dining is also available. Complimentary snacks are served poolside in the afternoon, or you can relax with a book from the library and enjoy coffee in the lounge overlooking the courtyard. The beach is just a short walk away, and the concierge service can help you plan activities, sightseeing, and shopping during your stay in this historic city.
Best View: Fragrant Nature Kochi
Another landmark building, Fragrant Nature Cochin was once the office of the East India Company. The yellow and white structure features an iconic clock tower and looks out onto the harbor. Rooms consist of Duke’s Chambers, with either a King or twin beds, Ocean Blue Suites with private balconies overlooking the harbor, and the luxe Royal Dutch Suite with a separate living area, jacuzzi tub, and balcony with the hotel's best view. Rooms feature WiFi, TVs, rain showers, bathtubs, and minibars.
The best view of the ocean and the bay are found on the roof—where there’s a restaurant, as well as a pool and a lounge with an open-air theatre, which hosts live cultural performances. Dine at one of five different spaces, including a vibrant street café, an all-day restaurant, a poolside option, and more formal spaces. Breakfast is included. The five-star hotel also houses a gym, spa, and business center, as well as offers babysitting services.
Best for Foodies: Eighth Bastion
A four-star hotel dedicated to celebrating its Dutch influences, the Eighth Bastion features modern luxuries, a nautical theme, and a rich celebration of the area's history. You'll have your pick of three tiers of rooms, all of which come with complimentary WiFi and TVs. Your view will either be the ocean, private garden, pool, or charming streets, and select rooms have private verandahs or balconies. There's also a pool to unwind by, a recreation room, a business center, and bikes on the property.
Reviewers, though, say the food is the real draw here. The inclusive breakfast features hot and cold items cooked to order, with both Indian and Western options. The in-house restaurant, East Indies, serves fusion food, combining the best of local ingredients with Dutch influences. The menu is filled with options like beef sliders and eggplant chips, the fresh catch of the day, Dutch Bruder Bread, and celebrity Chef David Rocco's famous Curry Pasta. There are special options daily, too. There are a variety of vegetarian options and the restaurant will cater to people with food intolerances. Warning: They don't serve alcohol, but you can get a mocktail.
Want to learn how to make Indian food? Check out our article on places to take cooking classes in India.