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Sun, sand, and surf: there’s no better way to describe Goa, the small state on India’s western coast. A favorite destination for honeymooners, bachelor parties, and family vacations, people throng to the state in search of greenery, architecture, pristine beaches, delicious food, and cheap alcohol. It helps that Goa is known for being susegaad – a term loosely meaning laidback and relaxed. The word is borrowed from Portuguese, who ruled the state and gave it some worthy monuments, streets, and culinary influence. Goa’s affordability as a destination also extends to its hotels, many of which are located in stately old converted Portuguese homes or by the beach. The state welcomes and caters to all kinds of travelers: businessmen, honeymooners, families, couples, and friends. If you need help choosing a place to stay, we have you covered with the picks below.
Best Overall: Taj Exotica Resort & Spa
This Mediterranean-inspired resort is located in Benaulim, a southern part of Goa. Luxury rooms and villas are spread over 56 acres offering views of manicured gardens and the sea. A golf cart is available to take you around, or you can rent a cycle. Both come in handy to help you explore everything the property has on offer: gardens, a mini golf course, a small cricket ground, and sporting and pool activities for children and adults.
Of the four restaurants, the Lobster Village stands out for offering an ocean view and, of course, fresh seafood. There are lifeguards at the pools, televisions in the bathroom and Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity everywhere — even on the beach. There are enough facilities for conferences, business meetings, and destination weddings, courtesy of the resort's 4,600-square-foot banquet hall.
Where the Taj really stands out among the rest is in their service. They will upgrade rooms without asking, leave behind small gifts, and help plan surprises. Beyond the resort, they can arrange tours to bird sanctuaries, spice plantations, and private Portuguese homes — just ask and they'll help.
Best Budget: Lazy Frog
One of Goa's newest hotels, Lazy Frog started operations in November 2015. Located in Carmona village in South Goa, the property has functional rooms, wooden cottages, a garden, badminton court, and pool. Spacious rooms come with a kitchenette, AC, attached bathroom/toilet, and double beds. The amenities are standard: daily fresh towels, microwave, mini fridge and bar, cable television with over 100 channels, and daily housekeeping service. There’s a small restaurant on site, which outsources its food, but the chef takes orders for snacks and breakfast.
Though it’s a small place, it is well kept and extremely clean. Carmona beach is a good walk away and the owners are on hand to help organize bikes, cars, and taxis though the bus stop is near too. Lazy Frog is situated in a residential area but has plenty of shops and small restaurants nearby. It is ideal for those seeking some standard of luxury but at an affordable rate.
Best Boutique: Coco Shambala
A private retreat in the middle of a jungle-style garden, Coco Shambala has four well-equipped villas. Each features two bedrooms, a private jet pool, a well-stocked kitchen, and open living pavilions and shower areas. You are always surrounded by greenery for times when the summer heat gets a bit stifling.
The resort's service is attentive and friendly. There’s a 24-hour concierge, whom you can contact using a pre-programmed cell phone. You can even call them to share a cup of masala chai or ask for suggestions on exploring the state. Coco Shambala’s every amenity is customized to suit guests' preference. Food is prepared fresh, keeping in mind culinary and dietary requirements. There’s a meandering communal pool, which can double up as a bar. A spa, tucked away in the garden, offers aromatic Ayurvedic therapies and massages. Though it is away from the hustle and bustle of the main city center, Coco Shambala provides a car and driver (on call 24/7) for when you want to visit the nearby beaches or go out shopping.
Best for Families: Alila Diwa
This five-star hotel is set amid lush paddy fields, along Gonsua Beach in Majorda, just a short drive from the airport. There are 153 rooms and suites in total, including family rooms and suites which offer a terrace. There is a family area with a mini theatre, a children’s pool, and a children’s play area. Alila Diwa offers complimentary shuttles to the beach, babysitting services, and breakfast at the all-dining space Vivo. For a taste of good Goan or Indian food, try the award-winning Spice Studio.
If you want to splash out, The Diwa Club — a hotel within the hotel — is the property's most luxe option. There you'll find 35 ultra-luxurious rooms, an infinity pool, open-air jacuzzi, fitness center, salon, and bistro. No matter where you stay at Alila, however, the resort offers tailored experiences including visits to nearby beaches, spice farms, temples, museums, and poder (local bakers), and onsite cooking classes and treetop candle-lit dinners.
Best for Romance: Ahilya by the Sea
This waterfront Coco Beach property is shaded by coconut palms and offers nine rooms spread across three villas, each decorated with traditional art and antique furnishings. If you're after a more budget-friendly option, that's available too, in the form of a cozy space in the branches of a 200-year-old banyan tree. You won't find room service, phones, or TVs here, so you have to seek your entertainment outside, but we're certain you'll find plenty to do.
There are two pools — an infinity pool perfect for viewing sunrises and a smaller plunge pool for sunsets. All rooms and spaces look out over the beach, which is just a short walk away. The place is frequented by fishermen and you get a glimpse and occasionally a whiff of fishing action. The catch of the day makes it onto the daily menu. Food and drinks aren’t allowed in the rooms but can be enjoyed anywhere outside. Breakfast is served on the balconies and dinner is al fresco. The food is Goan, Italian, and French. Every evening, guests can mingle with others during Happy Hours where drinks are complimentary, or during special musical performances each evening.
Best Luxury: The Leela Goa
This five-star hotel is set amid 75 acres of lush greenery, with its own private beach. Accommodations are divided into premiere rooms, deluxe rooms, club suites, and villas. Guestrooms are spacious with marble bathrooms and views of the lagoon or lake. Opt for a package stay and you'll get a set of sweet perks, like a free breakfast spread, a half-day of sightseeing, spa treatments, butler service, a private fitness instructor at the gym, or complimentary wine and chocolates. Sign up for the Culinary Sojourn package, for example, and you'll get an introduction to Goan food that includes cooking and food demonstrations, a visit to a spice farm, and a farm-to-table lunch.
The property has a spa, tennis courts, a golf course, a uni-sex salon, and a variety of restaurants: all-day dining, Indian, Italian, seafood, a poolside bar, and a drinking lounge. The Aqua entertainment lounge features pool tables, chess boards, and books and turns into a discotheque in the evening. In addition, there are swimming classes, yoga and pilates, and karaoke to keep you busy. At The Leela Goa, everything is provided for, so you don’t have the leave the resort.
Best for Singles: W Goa
India’s first W Hotel is located on a hillside along Goa’s most popular beach, Vagator. The 122 rooms include villas, chalets, and suites. Guestrooms are a bit spread out and require a fair bit of walking or a long wait for a buggy ride, but the space is pet-friendly and there’s a personal trainer available for gym-goers and a guide to accompany those interested in treks to nearby locations. For the younger crowd, the WET deck bar has healthy snacks and cocktails, WOOBAR is a lounge by day and party place at night, and Rock Pool is a great place for a swim with a beach view. The spa includes an oxygen room, a heated vitality pool, steam room, and sauna. Everything is thought of here, from foreign exchange services and a beauty shop to florists and limousine service.
Best Heritage Stay: Neemrana’s Arco Iris Noble Home
A 200-year-old Portuguese restored bungalow is ideal for those seeking a quiet, homey stay. Arco Iris, a pet-friendly, five-room stay, is situated near a lake and has a huge garden. Guestrooms all have high ceilings, big windows, thick walls, and an attached bathroom; just keep in mind only two are air-conditioned. There’s a long verandah for relaxing during the day, and a well-stocked library to peruse during downtime. Breakfast is included; lunch and dinner are charged and can be booked in advance. The biggest attraction here is Feni, the resident Labrador.
If requested, the host will take you to for a walk and introduce you to the neighborhood: paddy fields, the nearby Zuari River and its backwaters, the church and Loutolim village, and the avian population. As it’s an old house, expect a few ‘visitors’ like lizards and frogs, and be prepared for spotty Wi-Fi (it's best accessed in the common area). The place is a bit cut off, so you'll need a taxi (check the rates beforehand) or your own vehicle. Neemrana’s Arco Iris is not meant for those seeking beaches and party spots, but rather a peaceful side of Goa.