Munnar, one of the top 10 hill stations in India, and one of the top places to visit tea gardens in India, is understandably one of Kerala's most popular tourist destinations as well. It's only around four hours drive from Kochi, which makes it a great weekend getaway, side trip, or next stop on a more extensive Kerala itinerary.
The real picturesque beauty of the area lies in the Munnar hills that surround Munnar town. As well as the sprawling tea gardens, nature and spice plantations abound. And then there are the fabulously diverse accommodations, which cater to all types of tourists. Many places offer substantial discounts during the monsoon season too. These atmospheric Munnar hotels and homestays are among the best places to stay there.
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Royal Mist is the most popular homestay in the Munnar area and consistently gets five star reviews from its guests. It's a modern house with three guest rooms, nestled into the hills about 30 minutes south of Munnar town. There's a network of short walking trails through the surrounding plantation and woody landscape that opens out onto magnificent viewpoints. Welcoming hosts (a family with two children), delicious home cooking, and a wide range of activities make it a winner!
- Rates: From 3,000 rupees per night for a double, including welcome drink, cookies, or fruit basket. Royal Mist also offers a three night "Splendors of Munnar" sightseeing package for two, including accommodations and transport from Kochi airport, for 19,860 rupees.
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Kaivalyam is a harmonious holistic health retreat, enveloped by forest and spice plantations around 20 minutes south of Munnar town. Essentially, it's a homestay and there are a couple of things that make it special: the hosts conduct a daily program of complimentary yoga (for both beginners and advanced), and there's also an organic farmyard there. The produce from it forms the basis of the tasty vegetarian fare served in the restaurant. It's possible to go walking in the spice and tea gardens, or simply soak up the serenity.
- Rates: From 4,000 rupees for a double room and 5,000 rupees for a tree house, including breakfast. Weekly and monthly (during the monsoon season) yoga packages are offered too.
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As its name suggests, you can expect to find plenty of tall trees at this property. Located on 66 acres of land to the south of Munnar town, it's a nature lover's paradise rich in biodiversity. There are more than 600 trees, cardamom plantations, streams, rock formations, moss, wildflowers, orchids, birds, butterflies, and wild animals. Guests can trek through the forest, as well sit around a campfire and soak up the serenity. However, the mesmerizing sunsets are the real highlight. Traditional Ayurvedic treatments are also offered. Accommodations are provided in independent cottages on stilts.
- Rates: From 7,000 rupees per night for a standard cottage, including breakfast.
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Windermere Estate is conveniently situated about 15 minutes from Munnar town and offers an immersive heritage stay. Elegant and refined, this property has been loving restored by its owner, after selling his rubber plantation in the area. The accommodations are set in rustic bungalows, all with private balconies or porches. Some even have day beds. You'll feel right at home with linen furnishings embroidered by women from the planter’s family, hammocks, extensive library, and cuisine made using family recipes. Don't expect any resort features, such as swimming pool or spa. What you will get though is nature at its best, non-intrusive service, and caring staff. The planter’s family that run the estate live on the property, and can provide assistance or advice if needed.
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- Rates: From around 8,500 rupees per night, for a double. The largest Planters Room is a very spacious 1,200 square feet and costs from around 17,800 rupees per night. Breakfast is included.
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The dream of a retired physics teacher, Olive Brook is an ancestral plantation house converted into a hotel with nature as its backdrop. It's situated under 20 minutes south of Munnar town. The property is ideal for honeymooners or couples wanting a romantic getaway. There are less than 10 cottages, it's been kept this way to ensure personalized service and a quiet environment. You'll be surrounded by birds, butterflies, and plants. Guests can tour the coffee and cardamom plantations, learn about organic farming, take cooking classes, do yoga, go trekking, and have a candlelit dinner. There's even a honeymoon cave! (Bet you're curious about that).
- Rates: From 4,800-6,650 rupees per night, including breakfast. Various packages are also offered, including Ayurveda, adventure, retreat, and relaxation.
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Fond of tea? Don't miss the opportunity to stay right in the middle of a tea plantation, around 30 minutes south of Munnar town. The Gruenberg Tea Plantation House is a gorgeous architecturally designed property with accommodations spread over three levels (all rooms have balconies so you can sit out overlooking the greenery), a rooftop Tea Haus restaurant, and library.
- Rates: 4,000-5,500 rupees per night for a double, including breakfast, fruit basket, and plantation walk.
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Luxurious Swiss County aims to enable you to "experience a bit of Switzerland in India" about 30 minutes south of Munnar town. It's a stunning property with modern rooms and views, views, views. If you feel like splurging, the Alpine Suite is apparently one of the largest and best designed suites around -- and it's surprisingly affordable.
- Rates: From 6,00 rupees per night for a double including breakfast. The Alpine Suite is 8,000 rupees. Discounts are often available from booking engines.
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Intimate and idyllic, Green Spaces has just five guest rooms facing either the garden or cardamom plantation. The ones upstairs have a shared deck, while the others have private balconies. There's forest everywhere, and the soothing sound of birdsong. Best of all, it's inexpensive! There's no set menu, although barbecues are a specialty. Guests can discuss what they wish to eat with the caretaker and cook. The only drawback, if you want to be close to town, is that the property is situated about 45 minutes drive away. Of course, this isn't important though if you're there to spend time in nature.
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- Rates: From 3,000 rupees per night for a double. Breakfast is included.
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For those who really want to get away from it all, must-visit Kolukkumalai Tea Estate has a refurbished mountain cottage perched on the slopes of the second highest peak in the area. The mountain view is to die for! The cottage has three guest rooms, ideal for friends or family traveling together. It's best suited to those who want to go trekking and enjoy the great outdoors. There's also a separate more comfortable boutique guesthouse, with four rooms including a family room. See their website for more information and reservations.
- Rates: 6,750 rupees per night for a double room in the cottage, including all meals, tea factory visit, and nature walks. A room in the guesthouse costs 4,000 rupees for a single or 5,000 rupees for a double, including breakfast.
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If you're interested in gardening or are looking for a friendly family environment, you're likely to love Rose Gardens Homestay. It's situated around 30 minutes south of Munnar town, amid pretty garden and a cardamom plantation, and overlooking a plant nursery. Some of the delights are fresh homegrown vegetables, seasonal fruits, honey straight from the hive, spring water, and farm grown coffee. Kerala cooking lessons are available. If you're feeling energetic, you can also go for lengthy guided treks in the area around the property. The homestay has four guest rooms. See their website for more information and reservations.
- Rates: From 5,500-7,000 rupees per night for a double, including breakfast. Trekking costs 1,600 rupees for two, with a guided tour.