The Malabar House Fort CochinThe first of Fort Cochin's slew of heritage hotels, Malabar House has been in operation since 1996, though its history dates all the way back to 1755, when it was commissioned by a Dutchman. Today it's one of the most sought-after places to stay in the historic port area, owing largely to its gorgeous rooms and common areas filled with an eclectic collection of paintings and sculptures. The on-site facilities aren't too shabby, either, and include a lovely old-world courtyard with a small swimming pool, a spa featuring traditional Ayurvedic massages and treatments, and even a wine lounge serving Indian and international wines. Don't miss the gourmet fare on offer at Malabar Junction, where guests can dine on a variety of Keralan specialties, including dishes constructed around freshly caught local seafood.
A warning before you have lunch at the Malabar House. Once you walk into this boutique hotel located in an 18th-century building on the Parade Ground, you may be tempted to stay in Kochi and let your ship leave without you. If you are willing to take that risk, you’ll find a restaurant that serves up the best of South Indian cuisine (which generally favors rice over the breads more typical of northern India, uses more fish and seafood and is essentially spicier). The setting in this exquisitely restored hotel makes the food that much more delicious. It’s pretty much the ideal place to wait out the midday sun.