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The Travancore Heritage Kovalam Reviews
Great place to relax Feb 21, 2017
When we were deciding on a beach hotel in which to wind down at the end of our Kerala trip, TransIndus recommended the cliff-top Travancore Heritage, near Kovalam, as a good option in our budget, but it seemed to get mixed reviews. In particular the standard rooms, which are located at some distance from the main complex (at beach level and accessed by lift) came in for some criticism. So we decided to pay a bit extra for one of the better rooms up on the cliffs, and our agent at TransIndus, Hari, kindly offered to upgrade us further to a top of the range Heritage Premium bungalow. Thus we found ourselves spending four nights in a large comfortable room, with all the character that comes with having been converted from a traditional Keralan house (hence "heritage"). This isn't a luxury resort so even these best rooms have some downsides (too flimsy dividing wall so we heard conversations in the adjoining room rather too clearly, and a somewhat basic bathroom at odds with the style of the room) but we had loads of space, a large bed, efficient a/c and best of all, a lovely area to sit out with a partial view of the beach and Arabian Sea beyond. This proved a good spot for watching the various birds that frequent the gardens, including on our first afternoon a black kite, as well as egrets and pond herons.
Breakfast at the hotel is a fairly extensive buffet, with fresh fruit, juices, lots of bread, cake and pastry items, eggs to order, and several Indian dishes. The coffee isn't too bad either.
The swimming pool is large and has plenty of sun loungers, with helpful attendants who will bring towels and sunshades. We spent most mornings here, and some afternoons too, interspersed with walks to the beach (reached via a lift/elevator down the cliffs and a stroll across a grassy area that seems to serve as both local cricket and football pitch and grazing land for cattle). The hotel provides the regular services of loungers, towels, sun shades in a section on the right-hand side, while the left side is a working fishermen's beach. As a backdrop the cliffs are dotted with large religious (Christian) statues which seem oddly out of place. The beach stretches for miles to the south of here and the views are lovely which, coupled with the interest of watching the local fishermen at work, drew us here much more than the sunbeds. I have read some reviews of the hotel that are critical of this beach and it is true that these aren’t pristine sands, but we liked being on a local working beach much more than we would a purely tourist one – better for photography, for interest, and for the local community too.
Like breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in the large Open House restaurant overlooking the swimming pool. The evening menu offers both buffet and a la carte options and we went for the latter each time. Most of the dishes we ate here were good, with a few of them excellent (a vegetable jalfrezi, a fish tikka masala, a cauliflower fritter starter), although at times the service was on the sluggish side and a little erratic.
We left with mixed impressions of the Travancore Heritage Hotel. There was a lot to like here - the adaptation of beautiful old buildings, the lovely pool and grounds, the setting above a working beach full of local colour and interest, some good food in the restaurant (and for those who want it, a selection of Western dishes as well as Indian). On the downside though, the wifi was very poor compared with other hotels we stayed at in Kerala, even though this is by no means a remote location and only a few miles from the capital. And while many staff were friendly and helpful (pool attendants and cleaners in particular) a few were rather casual in their manner. One particular incident stands out, when I found a small piece of glass in my ice cream one evening. The blame was very firmly placed on their supplier (fair enough) but the apology was lukewarm and no compensation in the form of a discounted meal was offered.
It is for this reason that I have rated the service here as average, even though some individual staff were good.
Part of the Kerala 2017 travel blog
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