The epitome of calm

Windermere Riverhouse

Windermere Riverhouse


, Kerala
, India

Windermere Riverhouse started off as a pet project for family weekends close to Cochin yet with the wonders of the lower Western Ghats close at hand. However, once finished, it took the shape of a small five-bedroom villa styled hotel set amongst two acres of swaying coconut palms. Warm and welcoming local staff assure highly personalised service and their genuine hospitality ensures a memorable stay.

The house is built in the style of a colonial-period plantation home and takes inspiration from tradition Keralan design. The rooms are spacious and airy with furniture made from beautiful local teak and rosewood. During the day you can idle away in the spacious living room with a small library and board games. The outdoor swimming pool that overlooks the river is an idyllic spot to linger any time of the day. On a clear night, the skies twinkle and fireflies lend a romantic and magical atmosphere. The House itself is built on the highest point with the gardens running down to the pool and dining hall which overlook the river.

Our Rating: Mid-Range
Property Type: Boutique


As the name suggests, the grounds of the property extend to the banks of the Periyar river. The evergreen Neriamangalam forests and rubber plantations flank other sides of the house, which is set just off the Cochin-Munnar highway. Neriamangalam is known for the first arch bridge in South India

built by the Maharaja of Travancore and opened in 1935. Built over the Periyar River, it serves as the getaway to the Idukki mountains.


Echoing a stately old Colonial bungalow, it has been built to reflect a large family home. Four rooms overlook the garden, while the fifth, a duplex room, overlooks the rubber plantation. Rooms are airy, bright and large with high ceilings, terra cotta tiles and include customised and handcrafted furniture, echoing old traditions.


Set meals are usually planned by the chef who specialises in traditional Keralan home-styled dishes made from the freshest farm and river produce as well as seasonal herbs, vegetables and fruit from the in-house garden and orchard. Every dish features a clever use of state-grown spices and lashings of coconut that will tantalize taste buds and satiate the mind, body and soul. The chef consults with guests and is only too happy to tailor menus to include personal preferences and continental classics. The restaurant is set away from the main house. It is open-sided and fresh, cool breeze accompanies every meal.


The nearest town is 20 km away from the Windermere Riverhouse, making it a tranquil retreat and a space of solitude. It’s the kind of still and serene that authors and poets dream of. WiFi is available in common areas making it ideal for workcations and staycations as well, with opportunities for sunbathing, reading and afternoon siestas in the lap of nature with gentle birdsong, rustling of trees and the lapping of the river. Refreshing cups of local tea and coffee are always available. The dedicated open-air yoga and meditation centre facing the infinity pool and the river make it a suitable spiritual retreat as well with daily yoga classes on offer. Yoga mats are placed in each room.

The local area is a haven for birdwatchers. It was the painstaking work of Dr. Salim Ali in the 1930s that led to the region being recognised as a rich bird habitat and perhaps the richest in peninsular India. The nearby Thattekad Bird Sanctuary formed in 1982 is named after him and to this date remains a modern-day paradise for avian life. Over 300 species reside in these tropical and deciduous forests and are testament to his great vision. Keen birdwatchers can take a birding guide into the sanctuary to spot cuckoos and Indian rollers or rarer species: peninsular Bay Owl or Malabar Hornbill. Malabar Grey Hornbills can be spotted within the property in the mornings and afternoons. Purple sunbirds, brain fever bird, night heron, myna, barbets, bee-eaters and others are also seen in the grounds.

Ambling in the neighbouring Neriamangalam forests is a rewarding experience. A twenty minute bicycle ride (or long walk) brings you to the Inchathotty Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in Kerala that connects two banks of the Periyar river. At a short distance, there is a plethora of waterfalls amidst verdant greenery, which not only make ideal picnic spots but promise to delight photographers as well. For the active traveller, cycling on the local roads and fishing or kayaking on the river is an option. You can also visit a traditional Keralan farmhouse to learn about the tapping of rubber and eat lunch with a local family.

The Windermere Riverhouse is a perfect weekend getaway given its proximity to Cochin airport (2 hours’ drive) and its idyllic riverside location. It can also be combined as part of a longer immersion into Kerala featuring the Windermere Estate in Munnar, its sister property and the Malabar Escapes properties in Fort Kochi and on the scenic backwaters of Vembanad Lake.

Why we love this place

If languid afternoon snoozes, delicious farm fresh local food and clean country air are what you seek, look no further than the Windermere Riverhouse. It is the epitome of calm and serene. Once you arrive in this picturesque location, a sense of relaxation emanates through you and you will smile deeply in the knowledge of having made the right choice for your holiday.

About your host

The Riverhouse was conceptualized by Dr. Simon and run with the help of his son John as an extension to Windermere Estate. They have a team of people trained over the years who bring to the property a geniality and warmth that is endearing. The service is attentive yet subtle, the service staff are cheerful and take great care to see ensure your comfort.

Responsible/Sustainable Tourism

The River House was part of land that was a rubber plantation. The family is involved in the process of restoring the biodiversity in this patch of land, and have chosen to remain small consciously, allowing guests to experience nature and have a greater appreciation of the natural surroundings.

Although, the family is relatively new to the area, they have assimilated well with the community with many of their staff from the region. Many from the staff have had no previous hospitality experience and have been trained in house. Windermere encourages that the team work as a community, thereby learning and enhancing each other’s capabilities. Support is lent to a community lower primary school, where even guests are encouraged to participate by spending time with the children by reading and interacting with them. This helps in enhancing the children’s English prowess, and allowing guests to give back to the community.

Windermere is conscious of their impact in the region and how they can bring about a positive change through participation, contribution and being part of the community of the region. The building for instance was made to merge with the surroundings and not stand out – showcasing the region and its intangibles. This in turn allows guests to have and appreciation, participate and contribute positively to both the community and the land. Windermere Riverhouse has been built on land that was part of a rubber plantation. They wanted to move away from mono-cropping to create a better eco system, thus removed the rubber trees and planted native and tropical plants. This has created an evolving garden rich in birds and butterflies, with these visitor numbers increasing every year.

As a small hotel, the meals are not buffet style, but served course by course. The menu is planned according to what is freshly available in the kitchen garden and the local market. Apart from maintaining freshness, this allows purchase of only what is required, and ensuring that food is not stored nor wasted. A bio-digester is used for treating food waste and converted to biogas for cooking or manure for plants. Energy efficient lighting and appliances are in place along with efficient plumbing. Water is sourced from a natural well and RO filtered water is offered to guests. Although there is some use of plastic bottled water, the used bottles are sent for recycling.

Our Recommendation

Situated in a little hamlet, the village walks are engaging. And after a day of activities, nothing is better than soaking in the infinity pool watching the river and the glorious sunsets.

Can’t find a suitable itinerary that features a destination, experience or accommodation you fancy? All our group tours and holiday ideas can be personalised, or we can create a tailor made itinerary for you.

Our Accommodation Ratings

Opulent: Exceptional, unashamedly the best of sheer luxury. (£££££)

Luxury: Outstanding levels of 5* comfort, hospitality and facilities. (££££)

Premium: Excellent levels of comfort and hospitality and a wide range of facilities. (£££)

Mid-Range: Good levels of comfort and hospitality, with a reasonable range of facilities. (££)

Simple: Clean and simple, no frills. Often in areas of natural beauty or near wildlife reserves. (£)