Goa State of Mind: Where to Stay on Your Next Trip

The best homestays, hotels, and eco resorts in the sunshine state.  
Unwind with a cool beer on the porch of one of Goa's trademark Portuguese homes. Photo courtesy Elsewhere
Unwind with a cool beer on the porch of one of Goa's trademark Portuguese homes. Photo courtesy Elsewhere

Elsewhere, North Goa

Elsewhere’s location is as striking as its decor. Cottages are set amidst swaying coconut trees with ocean views and rooms painted piercing indigo blue and deep, rust-red. Each is named after its precursor. The two-bedroom Bakery for instance, once housed a kitchen. There are also three tents, which face a creek that leads to the beach; each has a private bamboo jetty. Nature lovers will have a field day spotting kingfishers and herons, though Elsewhere’s most precious visitors are the olive ridley turtles, which lay their eggs on these beaches. A minimum stay of one week is preferred, but shorter bookings are also possible.

Getting There Elsewhere is approx. 53km/1hr45min from Dabolim Airport, and approx. 15km/45min from Pernem railway station.

Price Double rooms from ₹7,600; tents from ₹2,800. Prices vary with season. Only open Oct-May.

Details www.aseascape.com/beach_houses.html

Divar Island Guest House Retreat, Divar Island, South Goa

Divar Island Guest House Retreat, Goa

Swap stories with other travellers at the cosy restaurant of Divar Island Guest House Retreat. Photo courtesy Divar Island Guest House Retreat

Divar gets its name from the Konkani words dev and vadi—which means place of the gods. The island is located on river Mandovi, and is a short ferry ride from Old Goa. Jan and Arati Bostock run the guest house, along with their happy German shepherd dog, Junior. The guest house offers a quiet getaway with a friendly atmosphere. The 10 rooms are cosy with wooden furniture; some have four-poster beds. Meals are served in the restaurant that overlooks the pool.
Getting There Divar Island Guest House Retreat is approx. 32km/1hr from Dabolim Airport, and approx. 21km/1hr from Thivim railway station. Frequent ferries run from Old Goa to the island.

Price Doubles from ₹2,750-8,000. Prices vary with season.

Details www.divarretreatgoa.com

Wildflower Villas, Candolim, North Goa

Wildfower-1

An oasis of calm in Candolim, Wildflower’s villas are spread over eight acres of thriving forest. Photo courtesy Wildflower Villas

Wildflower offers the quiet of the forest with luxuries of a boutique hotel. Its five villas are spread over an eight-acre property that is home to a diversity of bird life. The villas are all built in Goan-Portuguese style with large verandas and lots of natural light. There are one-, two-, and four-bedroom villas that overlook the valley, river and the pool. Take a dip in the infinity pool or go on a cruise in the Sinquerim River. The property can also arrange for trips to see dolphins and heritage walks.

Getting There Wildflower Villas is approx. 41km/1hr from Dabolim Airport, and approx. 20km/40min from Thivim railway station.

Price Doubles from ₹5,000-7,500. Prices vary with season.

Details www.wildflowergoa.com

Olaulim Backyards, near Mapusa, North Goa

Olaulim Backyards, Goa

Cottages at Olaulim Backyards are named after birds like the golden oriole and hornbill, and made from bamboo, laterite, and palm leaves. Photo: Matthew Parker

Perched on a river bank, Olaulim Backyards offers canoeing, kayaking, and birdwatching excursions and is ideal for an active Goa holiday. The property is only 8km from bustling Mapusa beach, but feels like a world away from civilisation. Cottages—each named after a local bird—are rustic and earthy, and made with local materials like bamboo, stone, coconut wood, and palm leaves. The family-friendly property can also arrange for pottery classes, river-rafting trips and visits to historic sites like the Reis Magos fort.

Getting There Olaulim Backyards is approx. 42km/1hr from Dabolim Airport, and approx. 20km/30min from Thivim railway station.

Price Doubles from ₹4,500-8,500. Prices vary with season.

Details www.olaulimgoa.com

Casa Nova, Panjim

Casa Nova, Goa

Casa Nova is one wing of the sprawling ancestral home of the Gomes-Pereira family. Photo courtesy Casa Nova

Tucked away in an alley in Fontainhas, the Casa Nova homestay is ideal for a couple or a small family. The owners, Antonio Gomes Pereira and his wife Yvonne, opened the ground floor of their sprawling, ancestral home to travellers a few years ago, when their children moved away. It has a cosy drawing room, a spacious bathroom, and a master bedroom with antique wooden furniture. Casa Nova is well located; walking distance from art galleries and bars, and Antonio and Yvonne are happy to help with tips and recommendations. Read more here.

Getting There Casa Nova is approx. 25km/40min from Dabolim Airport, and approx. 25km/40min from Thivim railway station.

Price Doubles from ₹3,100-5,000. Prices vary with season.

Details www.goaholidayaccommodation.com

The Only Olive, Aldona, North Goa

the-only-olive-crop

Rooms at The Only Olive are filled with wooden furniture and antique light fixtures. Photo: Teja Lele Desai

The Only Olive, a 100-year-old Portuguese-style villa in Aldona, offers visitors a glimpse of the slow, laid-back pace of old Goa. The secluded property has restricted Internet access and no TVs but provides fishing equipment for free. Fix yourself a drink at the honesty bar or get some feni at the village taverna, a great way to meet the locals. The homestay has three bedrooms: The Master, which is the largest and filled with antiques, the Heritage Room, with a sturdy four-poster bed, and the Olive which has a bed made from olive wood and opens onto the garden. Read more here.

Getting There The Only Olive is approx. 40km/1hr from Dabolim Airport, and approx. 10km/20min from Thivim railway station.

Price Doubles from ₹2,999. Prices vary with season. Minimum stay of two nights is required between October and March; six nights between Dec 23 and Jan 5.

Details www.theonlyolive.com

Fort Tiracol, North Goa

Fort Tiracol, Goa

Fort Tiracol has seven rooms, and a terrace restaurant with views that mesmerise, by day and night. Photo courtesy Fort Tiracol

For a taste of Goa’s colonial heritage, stay at Fort Tiracol, a heritage hotel that once hosted bloody battles, but is now known for pitchers of perfectly made Bloody Marys. Built in the 17th century, the property occupies an old fort perched on the northernmost tip of Goa, close to the state’s border with Maharashtra. There’s a palpable sense of history across the property. The rooms of the hotel were once barracks. There’s a Portuguese chapel, which dates back to colonial times, and continues to offer Sunday services. But best of all, are the sweeping views of the Arabian Sea. The hotel can arrange for dolphin-spotting rides, heritage walks, and a tour to see how feni is brewed. Read more here.

Getting There Fort Tiracol is approx. 80km/1hr40mins from Dabolim Airport, and approx. 30km/45min from Pernem railway station.

Price Doubles from ₹8,000-22,000. Prices vary with season.

Details www.forttiracol.in

Hospedaria Abrigo de Botelho, Panjim

Hospedaria Abrigo de Botelho, Goa

The 150-year-old Hospedaria Abrigo de Botelho was restored over three years with careful attention to detail. Photo courtesy Hospedaria Abrigo de Botelho

Situated in the sunny Latin Quarter, this cheerful guest house is ideal for culture vultures, only a short walk from a number of Panjim’s monuments. The home too has immense heritage value: over 150 years old and recently restored, it has high ceilings, mahogany panelling, and bathrooms tiled with Mario Miranda illustrations. Tuck into a breakfast of eggs, cereal, and puri-bhaji in the garden, before setting out to explore the neighbourhood. Read more here.

Getting There Hospedaria Abrigo de Botelho is approx. 25km/40min from Dabolim Airport, and approx. 23km/40min from Thivim railway station.

Price Doubles from ₹2,200-8,000. Prices vary with season.

Details www.hadbgoa.com

Old Quarter hostel, Panjim

Old Quarter, Goa

With free Wi-Fi, the Old Quarter hostel’s cafe is good for a quick cup of coffee and to finish a few hours of work. Photo: Jolly Schawrz

Gone are the days when hostels meant dingy rooms and dank bedding. Today’s hostels, like Old Quarter, are funky, clean, and very affordable. This one has 18 dormitory beds and eight private rooms, a kitchenette, free Wi-Fi, and a cosy cafe with a great collection of books. It’s a great place to meet fellow travellers or get work done over cake and coffee. Old Quarter is located in Fontainhas in the heart of Panjim, and is part of the Hostel Crowd chain of hostels. There are other branches in Anjuna and Vagator too. Shuttles run from the Old Quarter to the Anjuna flea market on Wednesdays.

Getting There Old Quarter is approx. 25km/40min from Dabolim Airport, and approx. 25km/40min from Thivim railway station.

Price Doubles from ₹1,200-3,000. Prices vary with season.

Details www.thehostelcrowd.com/oldquarterhostel

Bhakti Kutir, Palolem, South Goa

Bhakti Kutir Goa

Bhakti Kutir’s stripped-down aesthetic and laid-back atmosphere makes for a relaxed holiday. Photos courtesy Bhakti Kutir

Turn the focus inwards at the Bhakti Kutir yoga retreat, where days begin with hatha yoga classes, and end with cocktails and bountiful meals at the cafe. The resort’s 22 cabanas are made from locally sourced rice straw and bamboo, and are scattered over a two-acre coconut grove. It’s an ideal space to unwind from the bustle of city life. Bhakti Kutir has an Ayurvedic and naturopathy clinic that offers massages. The restaurant serves healthy vegetarian and vegan options, but also serves fish.

Getting There Bhakti Kutir is approx. 62km/1.5hr from Dabolim Airport, and approx. 37km/1hr from Madgaon railway station.

Price Doubles from ₹1,000-3,500. Prices vary with season.

Details www.bhaktikutir.com

Capella, Parra, North Goa

Capella, Goa

Tastefully decorated, Capella combines Portuguese-style architecture with antique Parsi furnishings. Photo courtesy Capella

Capella has the warmth of a lived-in home and the luxuries of a hotel. The tasteful homestay has a modest swimming pool, a fantastic cook, and a host, Ayesha, who is a fount of information on Goa’s cultural scene. Bedrooms have four-poster beds, bathrooms have bathtubs, and there’s a bookshelf in nearly every room. Curl up with a novel on a lazy afternoon and exchange stories with fellow travellers over drinks in the evening, courtesy Capella’s honesty bar. Read more here.

Getting There Capella is approx. 35km/1hr from Dabolim Airport, and approx. 17km/30min from Thivim railway station.

Price Doubles from ₹5,000-6,900. Prices vary with season. Will reopen after renovation around end October.

Details www.capellagoa.com

Marbela Beach Resort, Morjim, North Goa

Marbela Beach Resort, Goa

Relatively crowd-free, Morjim Beach is great for a game of volleyball, leisurely dips in the ocean, or naps in one of the resort’s cabanas. Photo courtesy Marbela Beach Resort

Marbela Beach Resort, namesake of the glamorous Spanish beach town, is a chic boutique property with luxury tents and a villa. Take dips in the placid waters of Morjim Beach, sip fruit cocktails at the all-white bar, or get an Ayurvedic massage with views of the Arabian Sea. Marbela offers a gamut of services, from Ashtanga yoga sessions in the morning to decadent parties with flamethrowers and loud music that lasts well into the night.

Getting There Marbela Beach Resort is approx. 52km/1.5hr from Dabolim Airport, and approx. 21km/45min from Thivim railway station.

Price Doubles from ₹6,000-35,000. Prices vary with season. Reopens after renovation in October.

Details www.marbelabeach.com

The Secret Garden, Saligao, North Goa

secret-garden

After a long day around Goa, cool off by the pool at the Secret Garden. Photo courtesy The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden is run by British-born Helene Menezes, who has lived in Goa for over 20 years now. She shares her home and organic garden in Saligao with her friendly dogs Diver and Merlot, and her cat, Kismet. Helene’s home dates back 200 years and has three rooms, a swimming pool, and a garden with hammocks. Close by, is the gorgeous Mae de Deus church, which was constructed in 1873. For a more immersive sense of life in this lively village, read our story of the São João festival here.

Getting There The Secret Garden is approx. 35km/1hr from Dabolim Airport, and approx. 17km/30min from Thivim railway station.

Price Doubles from ₹4,000-15,000. Prices vary with season.

Details www.thesecretgardengoa.com, or email thesecretgardengoa@gmail.com.

Cidade de Goa, Dona Paula, Panjim

Cidade de Goa, Goa

The plush Cidade de Goa was built in the early 80s, based on a design by the iconic architect Charles Correa. Photo courtesy Cidade de Goa

Cidade de Goa is ideal for a bubble holiday, where you check-in and stay put until you have to check-out. The five-star resort near Panjim, on Vainguinim Beach, has two outdoor pools, three restaurants, and two bars. The private beach has lounge chairs, attentive staff, and the bay has breakwaters, which means the ocean is as calm as a swimming pool; ideal for young children and older travellers. There’s 24-hour room service, Ayurvedic treatments and Swedish massages at the spa, Clube Saúde.

Getting There Cidade de Goa is approx. 27km/40min from Dabolim Airport, and approx. 32km/1hr from Thivim railway station.

Price Doubles from ₹8,000-27,000. Prices vary with season.

Details www.cidadedegoa.com

Wildernest Nature Resort, Chorla Ghats

Wildernest

Wildernest is a quiet haven for nature lovers. The forest here is home to primates like the slender loris as well as Malabar pit vipers. Photo courtesy Wildernest

Set in a corner of the 450-acre Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary, Wildernest is run by a dedicated team of naturalists deeply committed to saving Goa’s forests and culture. The resort’s cottages are made from acacia wood with large, ceiling-to-floor glass windows that allow guests to observe the many delights of the Western Ghats. Watch langur families forage for breakfast from the comfort of your bed, soak in valley views from the swimming pool, go on treks with locals, and end the day with fish curry, rice, and a wildlife documentary screening in the dining room.

Getting There Wildernest Nature Resort is approx. 70km/2hr from Dabolim Airport, and approx. 42km/1.5hr from Thivim railway station.

Price Doubles from ₹6,400-7,900. Prices vary with season.

Details www.wildernest-goa.com

Panjim Inn, Fontainhas, Panjim

Panjim Inn, Goa

Panjim Peoples, part of the Panjim Inn family of hotels, is a typical example of the Indo-Iberian architectural style. Photo courtesy Panjim Inn

Panjim Inn is a classic example of the architectural heritage the Portuguese left behind in Goa. Once a stately residence, the heritage hotel with its deep maroon walls and white trimmings is now a prominent landmark in the area. Curl up with a book on the antique wooden four-poster beds, or browse through the exhibitions at the in-house Gallery Gitanjali, an art gallery that hosts workshops, poetry readings and book launches. Panjim Inn is a part of WelcomHeritage, a chain that has two other properties in the city: the adjacent Panjim Pousada, and Panjim Peoples, which was Goa’s first English school.

Getting There Panjim Inn is approx. 25km/40min from Dabolim Airport, and approx. 25km/40min from Thivim railway station.

Price Doubles from ₹3,700-9,000. Prices vary with season.

Details www.panjiminn.com

Cancio’s House, Aldona, North Goa

Cancio's House, Goa

Visit the cheerful Cancio’s House for its old-world charm and quiet surroundings. Photo: Amrita Das

Tuck into rice and fish curry—and learn to cook it too—at Cancio’s House, the 500-year-old home of the Amaral family. The Amarals also make pineapple pickle and homemade wine, which they are happy to share with their guests. The stay has four rooms: two in the ancestral home, and two in the newer cottage next door. Both are nestled behind a thick grove of trees, and have solar geysers. Boat rides in the river can be arranged, if the weather permits. Read more here.

Getting There Cancio’s House is approx. 40km/1hr from Dabolim Airport, and approx. 12km/25min from Thivim railway station.

Price Doubles from ₹2,500-5,000, inclusive of breakfast. Prices vary with season. Minimum stay of three nights during most of the year.

Details www.cancioshouse.webs.com

Afonso Guest House, Panjim

Afonso Guest House, Goa

Afonso Guest House overlooks the whitewashed chapel of St. Sebastian, which dates back to the time of the Portuguese rule in Goa. Photo courtesy Afonso Guest House

Jeanette and Clifton Afonso run the Afonso Guest House,  overlooking  the snow-white St. Sebastian Chapel in Fontainhas. The guest house is basic, cheerful, and filled with quirky knickknacks, like old crockery, weathered Buddha statues, and lots and lots of plants. Bright pink bougainvillea cascades down the balconies, potted ferns dress up window sills, and bonsai trees line the terrace, where breakfast is served every morning.

Getting There Afonso Guest House is approx. 25km/40min from Dabolim Airport, and approx. 25km/40min from Thivim railway station.

Price Doubles from ₹1,950-3,900. Prices vary with season.

Details www.afonsoguesthouse.com

Saraya Ecostay, Sangolda, North Goa

Saraya, Goa

Saraya Ecostay is also home to an art gallery, where artists, sculptors, writers, musicians and theatre groups showcase their work. Photo courtesy Saraya Ecostay

Mother Nature comes first at Saraya Ecostay. Accommodation options include mud huts, bamboo tree houses, and a dormitory that can accommodate nine people. The peace-loving, communal vibe rubs off on guests easily, even if you’re just visiting for the weekend. If you plan to stay longer, consider volunteering at Saraya’s cafe and organic garden. Yoga sessions are frequent. The property can also arrange for excursions to spice farms, old Goa, and beaches.

Getting There Saraya Ecostay is approx. 33km/1hr from Dabolim Airport, and approx. 15km/25min from Thivim railway station.

Price Doubles from ₹700-2,100; dorm single beds from Rs350-1,000. Prices vary with season.

Details www.saraya.in

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    Fabiola Monteiro was formerly a member of National Geographic Traveller India's web team. She loves beaches, blue skies, and baking, and is most centred while trying a new cake recipe. She tweets as @thefabmonteiro.

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