Siolim House, Wadi, Siolim, Goa, India
+91 832 2272138, 2272941
+91 9822 584 560
"Siolim House’s opening begins a trend for upscale heritage hotels that sees guests such
as Kate Moss and Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan recast Goa as India’s glamour getaway"
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Siolim House, the stunning colonial inn in the north Goan village of Siolim that so charmed me when I stumbled across it on the web, once belonged to the governor of Macao. It was dilapidated when Mr. Sood, its current owner, first spotted it in the 1990s. The effort to track down its previous owner took Mr. Sood on a chase around the world that passed through Switzerland before ending, improbably, in Compton, Calif. Mr. Sood has done a beautiful job restoring the home. It offers seven rooms, all handsomely furnished. Handsome enough for Kate Moss, in fact, who once rented the house for a week. “We have a kind self-selection,” Mr. Sood said. “It’s not over-the-top fancy. What you get is a kind of village life. People come here because they are driven by a sense of finding the authentic.” The room I stayed in, the Macao Suite, is particularly elegant. Meals are served in an outdoor courtyard next to a pool lined with lush palms, and the friendly staff can arrange on-site yoga classes, ayurvedic massages and Indian cooking lessons.
The meticulous attention to detail in the restoration of Siolim House is evident in the massive suites and common areas, making it a finalist for the 2001 Unesco Award for Cultural Heritage Conservation in Asia. The former 24-room house (once home to the Governor to Macau) now has only eight suites, each light-filled, airy and generously decorated with antique and reproduction furniture.
The walls are covered in traditional lime plaster and decorated with contemporary and traditional art, including a stunning antique wallpaper in one of the common areas. Surrounded by palm trees and the quiet hum of an old house, you might forget the chaos of the beaches and the market-towns of Goa and just while away your days with a book and long siestas.
It doesn't get more authentic than this -- a chance to sample historic architecture in a 300-year-old Portuguese mansion and experience the ebb and flow of genuine village life. Accommodations are atmospheric and lovely, and retain so much of their original character, thanks to savvy, sensitive restoration by the owner, Varun Sood, a with-it and debonair raconteur, businessman, and charmer; chat with him and he'll shares his insider views on Goa. The entire house recalls a bygone age and is filled with original antiques, wrought-iron four-poster beds, and lots of dark wood to set off the white walls. If possible, avoid the rooms around the courtyard, though, as these pick up some noise from the public areas. Besides, the upstairs superior rooms are even more appealing (Macassar being our personal favorite); they're massive, with high ceilings and loads of windows (but no A/C) that fill the interior with magnificent light and a welcome breeze. He's also created a lovely garden and poolside environment, and the intimate restaurant serves great fresh fish. You can rent scooters and Bullet motorcycles, and staff arrange tours up and down the coast, and you can attend Sunday mass at Siolim village's beautiful church, just down the road.
Siolim House, In Goa, this former mansion is now an elegant hotel with 10 rooms in the middle of India’s premier beach resort.
Set in the middle of gardens, it’s a place to unwind, with regular yoga sessions, a pool to relax by and an Ayurvedic spa.
Siolim House, Siolim
Steeped in colonial history, this restored 350-year-old building was once home to a Goan-Portuguese governor of Macau. There's also a pool.
Siolim House, opposite Wadi Chapel, Siolim, Bardez (00 91 832 227 2138; siolimhouse.com). Doubles start at Rs2,750 (£39), including breakfast.
A revew of things to do in Goa
To experience the grandeur of an original and lovingly restored palácio, a Portuguese mansion with antique furniture and decor, book a suite at Siolim House Heritage Boutique Hotel (www.siolimhouse.com, 0091 832 227 2138). Opt for one of two large suites upstairs but note there is no air conditioning (there is now airconditioning).
Casa Palacio Siolim House, which Kate Moss, Sadie Frost, and their entourage took over for two weeks a few years ago, is on an outlet of the Chapora about 10 minutes inland. One of the original indie establishments that have set a microtrend for heritage hotels, it's a study in lazy manor living. The hotel was recognized by unesco in 2001 for owner xxx xxx's letter-perfect restoration of the 17th-century governor's mansion. With old Portuguese tiles, formal sitting rooms, and an enormous pool, it feels more like a villa than a hotel. The road leading here is a bit scrubby, but a treat awaits inside.
"If you want to relax in style, stay at this small boutique hotel, which occupies a 300-year-old Portuguese villa on the south bank of the Chapora River. Beautifully restored in 1996, this old mansion has huge rooms, impeccably furnished with antiques and brightly colored linens, and plenty of comfortable common areas. A new bridge across the Chapora makes it easy to get to the beaches north of the river in Pernem, as long as you have a car or bicycle — it's about 6 to 7 km (4 mi) from Siolim House to the Pernem beaches. Pros: tranquil rural setting, sophisticated service, palacial rooms. Cons: inland location."
A proud colonial heritage house with the protective air of an establishment that is intent on keeping itself unique. Though an opulent top end hotel, the authentic slice of Goa in which Siolim House is located offers guests a genuineinsight into genuine Goa. A finalist in 2001 for the UNESCO World Heritage Asia Pacific Award, Siolim House is happily situated in a merrily weaving road that joins the contrasting worlds of Chapora and Siolim. Far from the madding tourist crowds, Siolim House offers residents a true Goan experience. Keeping guard over the privacy of its grounds and its guests, this self-contained world is exclusive without the artificiality that often comes with it. The simple-but-prominent pool next to the house can be admired from the breezy open air courtyard where meals are served. Its eclectic 275-year history has left an elegant legacy; hints of the orient remain courtesy the governor of Macau, who formerlly owned Siolim House. Rooms are named after 17th-century trading ports and have elegant and individual class.
Gems in Goa
Siolim House, in the west coast state of Goa, is not a hotel but a home, its owners insist, and one of the most charming in India (popular with the British in-crowd). Guests staying in the seven large suites have the run of this 275-year-old Portuguese-era manor, once home to the governor of Macau. Bedrooms are cool and elegant with mosquito net-draped beds and tiled floors (but no television or airconditioning). Flop by the pool or set course for the nearby beaches. Free wireless broadband, yoga classes and Ayurvedic treatments are welcome extras.
Nothing new this year, but those in the know love intimate Siolim House.
While restoring Siolim House, Varun Sood, its owner, has plucked back the bygone era and brought it to the present. As a heritage hotel, the place has a delightful, old- world charm. This crumbling manor in Siolim was built in 1680 and restored in 1995, thanks to the enterprising Sood, He was only 26 when he set about tracing its owners. He spent a year going through its old documents and another two-and-a- half years going on a recce of Portuguese homes. Siolim Houses lost magnificence was then restored.
The manor, with its striking yellow colour and large olive windows, has beautiful gardens and an old well. Through the foyer, on the left is a passage that leads to the living room with antique chairs, beautiful side tables, an unusual teak cupboard and Queen Ann rocking chairs. A sandalwood box, belonging to the Kadamba period, occupies pride of place.
An enchanting courtyard, flanked by large white columns, has rooms on all sides. An open dining area, situated in the courtyard, has insignia- marked wrought iron gates opening to a garden and swimming pool. You can sit in the garden and eat some scrumptious home-cooked delicacies. Each bedroom has gilt and bronze-edged beds with silken fabric. Frescoes outline the walls, with some rooms having 18th-century bidriwork. Bathrooms, with marble and wooden flooring, have a colonial style bathing.
India’s new sophisticates – Sue Crapenter picks the ten most stylish sleepovers on the subcontinent, from traditional palaces to chic resorts. “Former residence of the governor of Macau, a 300 year old ochre-washed indo-portuguese manor house, beautifully restored with just seven airy suites, a garden full of bougainvillea and frangipani, and a pool. Still a private home where you feel like a personal house guest, Siolim House has all the atmosphere of a chic European pousada or villa – a quality so possible yet so rare in the old colonial states of India..”
“… they have restored Siolim as a place that is part palazzo, part home, part air, part light. It exists in a bubble, removed from the rest of Goa on the edge of Siolim village, one of the rare coastal villages that has somehow managed to escape the interest of the raggy taggys. The only time I have had a bigger room than the muslin-aired polo field that was mine at Siolim was in a major suite at The Ritz in Paris. But then perhaps C}sar Ritz, the governor of Macau and [Blank] share the same ethos: to survive the ugliness of the world the human condition needs space and light tempered with luxury...”
Old world charm — MARIANNE FURTADO de NAZARETH writes. “The restored Siolim House, a colonial Goan villa with its fusion of European and Indian style architecture, will enchant visitors…”
Siolim House — rated among India’s top boutique and heritage hotels.
“This is the real Goan experience. Sunrays filter through the mother-of-pearl windows onto the draped, four-poster bed. Above, the ceiling is crafted in wood and tile by artisans who have carried their handwork through generations. In the large room, your footsteps echo the walls painted in local shell paint. Outside the window a beautiful patio sparkles in the sunlight. Tiny birds twitter a chorus alongside scampering squirrels. When I move to the bathroom, it is large enough to waltz in. Am I living a dream at the turn of the last century? Welcome to Siolim House, a stately manor in the best Goan tradition, beautifully and lovingly restored …”
“Tucked away in one Goan village is the beautiful Siolim House that is over 250 years old. It has all the trappings of a village house, simple designs and forms, lots of space, genial people and stories that would put a sea dog to shame. Alan DâMello has this story to tell… ”
“Built in the 17th century, Siolim House recalls the era when Goa was the capital of Portugal’s vast colonial empire. The house once belonged to the governor of Macau, and it has seen numerous battles, since the surrounding area constantly changed hands. The grandeur of the house with its fabulous tiled floors and oystershell windows, generous us of space and excellent service, make it perfect for house parties..”
It had been built during the 17th century in the double-storeyed Casa de Sobrado style, around a central courtyard, very much like houses of the Portuguese nobility. Siolim House was situated on the border of Bardez county, near lands that were subject to frequent attacks by the armies of Adil Shah, the Sultan of Bijapur.
Goa became a destination divided into extremes: the raggy-taggys and five-star resorts. Those that stayed at the resorts were protected by high walls and high prices. rarely straying beyond the big gates, except perhaps to go and look at the raggy-taggys, who themselves had become a bit of a tourist feature. by Justine Hardy (a classic of travel writing!)
What ever you do, don’t call Siolim House a ‘Hotel’. The owners insist their restored 300 year-old Portuguese mansion is your ‘home’ and have made it a palatial as possible, turning the 24 original rooms into just seven suites. So keen are they to welcome new comers into the fold, they have set up an online silent bidding system enabling cash-stretched Indian nationals and tourists to name their price for a room. Goa isn’t where you might expect to find such a boutique hotel – so don’t go telling everyone.
The setting for Siolim House, a 300-year-old Portuguese manor, now run as an exclusive heritage hotel. It’s a handsome building, flat-roofed and solid, restored in a feat of architectural imagination to perhaps more than its past glory.