The Luxe List 2018: Mantra Koodam, Kumbakonam

Chettiar-style cottages and bungalows are scattered across lavish gardens and boast vibrant floor tiles and ornate pillars alongside traditional Tamil furnishings. 

A oasis of serenity by the poolside.

From an intimate tented camp in the green foothills of Bali to a converted 19th-century Jesuit retreat in Tamil Nadu, our editors and reviewers have roamed the Asia-Pacific region to bring together DestinAsian’s annual collection of the year’s top hotel openings. Read on to discover which new properties stood out from the rest in terms of service, setting, amenities, and a singular sense of style.

Nested in the heartland of Tamil Nadu amid lush paddy fields, conservation-minded Indian hotelier CGH Earth’s latest venture brings quiet luxury to the ancient temple town of Kumbakonam. Beyond a shrine set on a tree-embowered water tank, Chettiar-style cottages and bungalows are scattered across lavish gardens and boast vibrant floor tiles and ornate pillars alongside traditional Tamil furnishings. Bathrooms with open-air showers are a welcome touch, while the main pool brings a splash of urbanity to this emphatically rural experience.

Chettiar-style cottages and bungalows are scattered across lavish gardens and boast vibrant floor tiles and ornate pillars alongside traditional Tamil furnishings.

The restaurant’s signature feast is the all-vegetarian “maharaja” thali, a platter of 17 different dishes whose nuanced flavors are as intricate as the famous silk saris woven in these parts. Also worth seeking out is a cup of Kumbakonam’s beloved “degree coffee” at Mantra Tea Kadai, a thatched shack stocked with traditional teatime snacks. Guests looking for diversions will find plenty to keep themselves busy, from visiting a legendary Vedic school and artisanal workshops to temple-hopping among the region’s staggering architectural masterpieces.

91-484/426-1711; cghearth.com; doubles from US$180.

This article originally appeared in the October/November 2018 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“The Luxe List 2018: Mantra Koodam, Kumbakonam”).

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