Kerala’s sultry southern shores exert a powerful pull, and many who visit are drawn to the dream of houseboat living and the opportunity it offers to get close to the state’s distinctive waterside culture. However, away from the backwaters, there’s a host of welcoming homestays which give you the chance to stay with local families and connect with the rhythms of their daily lives; an individualised perspective which brings the region into vibrant 3D.
Each homestay, like every household, is unique, giving you a glimpse into the life of another family. Wherever in the world you embark upon a homestay, it’s an enriching experience, and in Kerala it brings another level to an already extraordinary destination. Some are small boutique hotels, with separate lodges for many guests and a pleasantly surprising range of facilities, while others are very much like being a guest in a family home, but they all share the hands-on approach of the families who run them; it’s an integral part of the guest experience to be welcomed into the household.
Welcoming, family-run properties in various locations throughout Kerala, from peaceful waterside guesthouses to homes in the heart of local communities, each location connects you to your surroundings with a strong sense of place.
Welcoming family hosts
Village life & local culture
A warm welcome and a beautiful location - an ideal alternative to a houseboat stay.
Discover what to expect from staying at Kerala homestays
Looking through the palm trees that hang over the calm Keralan backwaters, Philipkutty’s Farm combines villa accomodation with a welcoming homestay feel. A handful of villas sit along the shoreline, each encircled by a verandah where you can sit in the shade and enjoy the peaceful surroundings. The host family are always on hand to greet and chat with their guests, give tours of the farm and, of course, serve up delicious home-cooked meals to share around the family table. Visit riverside villages and temples, or slow the pace right down with little fishing. Back at the farm, take a yoga class, curl up with a book, or simply sit by the riverside soaking up the serenity.
This characterful rural mansion near the Malabar shoreline was built in the 1800s by an English cinnamon trader, and the lush countryside surrounding its handful of guestrooms is still dedicated to spice-growing and agriculture. A stay here will immerse you in fantastic Malabari flavours, which you can learn to reproduce in a cookery class with the lady of the house, who is a well-known expert in local cuisine. Dine on rich curries and local seafood, intriguing desserts and traditional snacks, and explore the countryside where the ingredients are grown. Sit on the sun terrace by the beautiful stone-walled swimming pool, and wander along miles of rugged Tellicherry coastline.
Stay in the ancestral home of your host family, with its own award-winning organic farm that produces many of the ingredients used in the fantastic traditional meals. The family are passionate about both sustainable farming and excellent food, and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to taste local flavours, and even learn to prepare the dishes yourself. The guest rooms are situated in the main house and, for a little more seclusion, in a cottage in the grounds. Massages and other Ayurvedic therapies are on offer, along with daily yoga practice, and there’s a gorgeous swimming pool in the garden when you fancy a dip.
Spend time relaxing at the homestay, unwinding by the pool, taking part in yoga classes, learning about organic farming and preparing meals with your host family. Head out on canal cruises on Kerala’s famous backwaters, and explore the culture and history of this enigmatic state.
Take your best shot at spotting wildlife with an itinerary that includes not one but three different parks, all located in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. This allows you to explore some surprisingly diverse scenery, see myriad bird and animal species, and hugely increase your chances of spotting one of these elusive big cats.