Neeleshwar Hermitage is a luxury Chic Retreat in Kerala, South India. This boutique hotel is a hidden tropical hideaway in northern Kerala beside the Arabian Sea and is one of India's finest gems. Escape from the stresses of modern life in this delightful and stylish hideaway, set in a gorgeous 12-acre site next to miles of unspoilt beaches. Nestling in a land of coconut plantations, fertile forests and hillside spice gardens, this harmonious hideaway has been designed according to the architectural principles of Kerala Vastu, (the Indian feng shui) . Buildings are constructed and positioned to accord with the laws of nature in the area, so as to increase the feelings of positivity and harmony. The site is oriented east to the rising sun and built from local wood and laterite in the style of palm-thatched fisherman's huts.
Learn more about India by enjoying the varied cultural programme: lectures on Indian art, architecture, religion, philosophy and history; regular musical concerts, film showings and dance performances and visits to local temples, ashrams and festivals with an expert guide. Whether you choose to cycle to paddy fields, fishing villages or local markets, this diverse and beautiful region is an enchanting place to explore. Or you can just relax around the stunning infinity pool. For the body, enjoy the expertise of the Priya Ayurvedic Spa which offers ayurvedic treatments and massages as well as spa and beauty therapies. After a day walking, relaxing and learning, retire to one of 18 private cottages and drift into sleep lulled by the gentle hypnotic sound of the waves.
The Neeleshwar Hermitage's cultural programme is run by Alistair Shearer, who has lectured for many prestigious institutions, including the British Museum and Sotheby's. You can enjoy his wealth of knowledge on art, architecture and history in one of his informal evening lectures, and there are also regular dance and musical performances as well as guided tours of local temples, ashrams and festivals, , many of which, like the spectacular theyyam spirit dances, are unique to the area. Cookery classes are a great way to get to know the cuisine of Kerala and pick up a useful skill. Guests can take a cruise along the quiet backwaters in a converted rice-barge houseboat, and in the evening watch the birds come to roost against a spectacular Keralan sunset. There is a wide variety of bird species - including drongos, babblers, fishing eagles, pipits, chats, kingfishers, wagtails, white-eyes and woodpeckers - some of which frequent the grounds and can be seen from your cottage.
Down on the unspoilt beach (between August and March) the turtles come to lay their eggs and the hotel works with a local NGO to collect and hatch the eggs before returning the baby turtles to the sea. Conservation is a priority here and much thought has been put into remaining at one with the environment, including a no-plastic policy, use of bio-gas, good recycling facilities and gardens landscaped to encourage bird and butterfly life.
A great way to explore the surrounding area is by bike, along a network of small roads and lanes leading to local paddy fields, temples, mosques, fishing communities and the lovely coast. Overlooking the beach, there is an infinity swimming pool and a yoga hall so guests can start the day with a relaxing yoga session looking out to the Arabian Sea. One-to-one meditation classes are also available from a highly experienced teacher. Further unwind at the Priya Ayurvedic Spa which offers a personal consultation with the in-house doctor and a wide range of ayurvedic treatments, both relaxing and remedial, that include massage with herbalised oil and steam baths. Spa and beauty therapies are also offered.
Nourishment is an important part of this experience of renewal and revitalisation. In the stunning Annapurna dining room, built like a temple, guests can enjoy the predominantly vegetarian menu subtlety influenced by Ayurvedic principles which pays attention to the importance of balance, flavour, enjoyment, appearance and the physical effect of food. Overlooking the beach is the charming fish restaurant, Meenakshi, which serves freshly-caught fish and other dishes. Here over a Western or Indian breakfast from the buffet or ordered a la carte, you can watch the brilliant turquoise kingfishers and golden-backed brahminy kites as they hover over the small freshwater lagoon, or after a glorious sunset, enjoy a candlelit dinner under the stars as the perfect romantic end to your day.