A large group of us (9 adults and an 18-month old infant) stayed at Aratt Mansion for 10 days during July 2015 and had a fantastic time. This is quite a lengthy review so I've broken it down into categories for ease of reading.
Accommodation: The house is far grander than the pictures on TripAdvisor suggest. Not shown in any of the images are the approximate 20ft water feature in the lounge, the two-storey feature wall in the lounge which really opens up the space, and several of the bedrooms, all of which are spacious and furnished to a high standard. The ground floor comprises a large living area with several sofas, coffee tables, large water feature lined with seating and a flat screen TV mounted on a feature wall. The living area then leads through to the dining area with a large table and chairs suitable for groups, and a fully furnished kitchen. Both the living area and dining area have doors which lead out into the garden which is laid to lawn, complete with infinity pool and stunning views out on to the backwaters. There are also two double bedrooms on the ground floor, both equipped with four-poster beds and with ensuite bathrooms. The first floor has a large internal landing/balcony overlooking the living area, two external balconies (one overlooking the backwaters and one overlooking the street), and another double bedroom with private ensuite and a private balcony. There is also another bathroom on the first floor which is for guests staying in the room on the second floor. The second floor bedroom is the only room on the second floor and is slightly smaller than the others, however has windows on 3 sides so offers great views of the surroundings. All bedrooms have individual air conditioning units which the guests can set to their preference, and the lounge/living area has air conditioning vents throughout. The only downside I can recall regarding the accommodation was that the air conditioning in the lounge/living area wasn't working during our stay. The staff were very apologetic and were helpful in providing fans whilst we were eating to help keep us cool. Aside from that, it's fair to say the accommodation surpassed our expectations in every way possible.
Staff: During our stay there were between 4-5 staff on site to assist with whatever we needed - cooking meals, cleaning rooms and providing fresh towels and sheets, clearing the pool and lawn of leaves each day, laundry of our clothes when needed, booking taxis, excursions and a trip on a houseboat. Every member of staff was extremely polite, helpful and friendly throughout the duration of our stay. As an example of this, my son at some point decided to hide my wallet in a shoe in my room. When I started looking for it around the house, a member of staff asked if I'd lost something and I explained I couldn't find my wallet. He then spoke to the others and all of them interrupted what they were doing to help me find it, which of course we eventually did, safely hidden in my shoe. It's also worth mentioning the staff were very good with my son and genuinely enjoyed making him laugh and seeing him happy.
Food: There is a menu from which you can choose your meals each day. Primarily your options are traditional Indian food (which we ate the entire time we were there!) however the staff and the owner did advise that other off-menu items could be sourced and cooked if needed. Breakfast is included in the price whereas lunch and dinner are at additional cost. It is worth noting however that the additional cost worked out at less than £2 per person per meal - incredible value considering the food was all freshly cooked, tasted fantastic, and was so plentiful that we were never able to finish it all. The staff were also very accommodating if we needed to eat meals earlier or later on certain days, or if only part of our group required meals and the remainder were eating elsewhere. It's also worth noting that if anyone is concerned about having "digestive troubles" during their stay, the drinking water at the house is fully purified and safe to drink, and no one from our group had any issues with the food throughout the time we were there. I can't fault the food in any way, I only wish I'd asked for the recipe of a few dishes before I left!
Location: The mansion is the final property at the very end of a long lane which ends when it meets the backwaters. As a result, there is no traffic around the property (which you'll really appreciate once you've witnessed the traffic noise elsewhere in India), and the environment feels very serene and tranquil. It isn't particularly far from the various tourist attractions in Kochi, however bear in mind that traffic is bad once you reach the city. As a result, allow 30-60 mins to travel to sights in and around Kochi.
Summary: We had booked Aratt Mansion for the second part of our trip having been in Chennai for a wedding initially. Having stayed in Chennai where the temperature was around 40 degrees celsius, and the buzz of people and traffic continued round the clock, Aratt Mansion was exactly what we needed to relax, unwind, and really enjoy our time in India. My only gripe about the entire stay was the air con in the main living areas - aside from that the stay was perfect, and I would absolutely recommend the mansion to family and friends looking to visit the area.
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