A bed for the night in Kerala

The location

The location

This jewel of a guesthouse is tucked away in south India, a 20-minute rickshaw ride from the state capital, Trivandrum. The sand-floored, palm-shaded terrace and seven rooms look across a coconut-fringed lagoon to a golden spit and, beyond, the Arabian Sea. You will hear little other than the odd bird call, locals as they punt past and the waves beyond. The remaining nine rooms are dotted about a lush garden.


Davina Taylor, the English owner, moved to Kerala in her fifties after a career in interior design. She has created a place that combines simplicity and sophistication and works with the environment. Roofs are palm-thatched; air-conditioning is courtesy of unglazed windows and fans (temperatures hover around 28-32C (82-90F) all year); dinners are candle-lit; muslin drapes over four-poster beds keep mossies away, as well as being very romantic.

The comfort factor

You will feel pampered here, not least by your room boy, never more than the ring of a brass bell away. There are multiple invitations to relax - on cushioned couches at the water's edge, by a pool, in a hammock - or enjoy a yoga session or ayurvedic massage. Details delight: fresh flowers floating in a brass bowl by your door; Rajasthani paintings.

The bathroom

Every room has an ensuite bathroom and shower. While these are more than adequate, they are not luxurious - Lagoona Davina offers delight and care, not luxury.

The food and drink

Meals are made from locally caught fish, eggs from Davina's ducks, fresh fruit and vegetables. They are essentially Keralan, delicious and healthy; with a nod given to Western indulgences such as home-made sugar-free ice cream. Bone china and cut glass add refined finishing touches to the dinner table.

The people

Lagoona Davina has a devoted clientele among travellers who know and love India but want to enjoy it in more comfort than they once looked for. It attracts its fair share of actors and media folk.

The area

Probably the earliest surviving temples in Kerala - a cluster of eighth and ninth-century shrines at Vizhinjam - make for a good stroll. In Trivandrum, the 1880 Napier museum is fascinating.

The access

Every effort is made to help guests with limited mobility. Young children or infants are not admitted.

The damage

Rooms cost from £44 to £81 per night.

The address

Lagoona Davina, TC 68/2054 Pachalloor Village, Trivandrum 695 027, Kerala, South India (00 91 0471 238 0049; www.lagoonadavina.com).