The Old Harbour is a sprawling 300-year-old property in a beautiful garden in the historical heart of Fort Kochi, owned at various times by the Dutch, Portuguese and British. More recently, Kerala’s oldest hotel has been lovingly restored and was shortlisted for a Unesco world heritage award.
The Old Harbour sits right opposite the Chinese fishing nets in the heart of Fort Kochi’s heritage zone.
Style & character
The building has served many purposes and is Kerala’s oldest hotel building. The property has been carefully restored by its Anglo-Indian owner Edgar Pinto. Modern amenities have been seamlessly integrated into century-old structures with great attention to detail.
Most rooms have four-poster beds (a few have twin beds), all the furniture and most of the fittings, down to the light switches and ceiling fans are antique. There’s no lobby as such but the entrance hall is fit for a palace. There’s a wealth of old and contemporary art from India and beyond on the walls and in the hotel’s many corners and alcoves. No wonder then that the Old Harbour is one of the main patrons of the Cochin Biennale. The nearby Kashi Art Cafe, also run by Pinto, complements the heritage vibe with sometimes daring art exhibitions throughout the year.
Service & facilities
Service is professional, friendly and relaxed and the staff take great care to let the guests be. The pool is one of the largest in Cochin and sits in the centre of a well-kept tropical garden, guarded by a giant mango tree and fringed by a wonderful lotus pond that is especially beautiful in the morning when the flowers bloom. The Old Harbour offers yoga classes and guides for city tours and puts great value on anonymity which is why The Old Harbour is a favourite with Bollywood royalty. It is also gay-friendly, surely a rarity in India.
- Fitness centre
- Room service
The standard air-conditioned rooms don’t have great views, but they are spacious and well appointed with huge beds, carefully chosen antiques and modern, spotless bathrooms that are well integrated into idiosyncratic 300-hundred-year-old spaces. All rooms have a minibar, safe and great, comfortable seating arrangements and guests can have televisions on request. Some of the garden-view rooms have open air showers and the suites are gigantic museum show pieces.
Food & drink
The restaurant, adjacent to the palatial entrance hall, borders the garden. In high season most guests eat outside, accompanied by traditional Indian music performances. The food is both Indian and continental and there’s a decent wine list. There’s plenty of seafood on the menu and portions are generous. Breakfast is either full English breakfast or Indian. The bread is very good. Guests with special wishes for India breakfast dishes should tell the chef the night before; he goes out of his way to accommodate diners.
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