Modern draws amid Kerala’s authentic spirit

Contemporary art, hotels and cruises from Kochi to Alappuzha

A bathroom at Trinity hotel in Kochi, India
A bathroom at Trinity hotel in Kochi, India

On India’s Malabar Coast, Kochi – a sleepy port city with one of the country’s oldest synagogues and a warehouse district stuffed with antiques – is emerging with a hit of new thinking. Until March, it hosts its first contemporary art Biennale (www.kochimuzirisbiennale.org), featuring exhibitions and installations on the surrounding islands – and the modern current is reflected in the city’s new hotels, with architect Bijoy Jain engaged to up the game at Trinity (www.malabarescapes.com; from about £220; bathroom in first picture). This three-suite guesthouse – to become five-strong by October 2014 – occupies the former Indian headquarters of the Dutch East India Company.

The private terrace of The Lotus, which cruises the Kerala Backwaters
The private terrace of The Lotus, which cruises the Kerala Backwaters

Kochi is the classic gateway to the Kerala Backwaters, where, further north on the quiet Karnataka border, a new boat is cruising the palm-fringed rivers and lagoons. The teak-decked Lotus (www.thelotuskerala.com; £587 per night; private terrace in second picture) has two suites with iPod docks, ensuite bathrooms and air-conditioning. It bears little resemblance to some of the down-at-heel rice barges plying the Kochi-Alappuzha route, but embodies the area’s authentic spirit.

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