Hotels in Goa, India
Goa, the smallest state of India on the west coast overlooking the Arabian Sea, is visibly different from the rest of the sub-continent: It has a city named Vasco da Gama, spires of ornate cathedrals, a ridiculously long ‘siesta’ of two hours, and a contented laidback approach to life called “sossegado” or “sussegad” which you can experience in centuries old palacios turned 5 star hotels in Goa. The Portuguese – who attempted to stake their claim on the Indian subcontinent but failed – stayed for 451 years and left a legacy of worry-free philosophy.
Where to stay in Goa, India
Calangute was a hippy haven in the 1960s and today a clear favorite, consequently becoming a mature beach destination filled not only with the best resorts in Goa but also with party-friendlier atmosphere not far from the hedonistic beach scene of Phuket or Pattaya, Thailand. Immediately south, Candolim plays host to the best hotels in Goa, India and a glitzy shopping and cocktails scene that appeals to the jet-setting crowd it attracts. If you want to pamper yourself in the lap of ultimate luxury, Vivanta by Taj Goa at Fort Aguada has everything you could ever want, and then some. After all, when royalty and heads of state come and visit, they stay in one of Vivanta’s posh suites.
For a bucket-in-the-sand holiday with the family, head to Palolem in Goa’s south and immerse yourself in warm azure waters, better-looking beaches if rustic beach huts, and emerald rice paddies. Here, hotels in Goa, India are few and far between, and so are tourists.
Where to find accommodation in Goa in search of ‘Susegad’
Outside of the party zone and into the villages, Goa seduces with the very essence of “susegad.” The inland village of Siolim beckons with centuries-old manor houses converted to luxury hotels in Goa and promises an aimless day filled with languid mornings, Ayurvedic massage, and meals served fresh from the catch.
If you want to go back in time altogether, inspect the beautifully preserved 450-year-old Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church originally built to welcome seafarers home. There’s also the 400-year-old UNESCO-inscribed Bom Basilica de Jesus which contains the remains of St. Francis Xavier in a 17th century casket. More than just a repository of Christian religious art in a country predominantly Hindu, Old Goa, less than 10 kilometers east of the state capital Panjim (Panaji), is also a haven of bohemian and creative types. Befitting its status as the state capital, some of the top hotels in Goa, India can also be found here.
As a long-time Portuguese colony, Goa embraces the pre-Lenten celebrations much like the rest of the Catholic world in a hugely attended Carnival held from early to mid-February. Understandably, you would have to find for places to stay in Goa well ahead of these dates. While Goa Carnival won’t match the grandiose farewell-to-meat celebrations of another Portuguese colony – Brazil – it will whet your appetite for a guilt-free street party.
Of course, there’s the equally massive celebration, Ganesh Chaturthi, a Hindu festival commemorating the birth and rebirth of Ganesh, that elephant-headed deity believed to be the remover of obstacles. The event is held for 10 long days between mid-August to mid-September when even modest apartments in Goa are filled with pilgrims from all over the state. But it will be worth jostling with the crowd, if only to fully appreciate the seamless fusion of two markedly different cultures and religious beliefs.