Feel right at home in Goa
The most atmospheric villas to rent in India’s famous seaside hub
AASHYANA LAKHANPAL The most famous and spectacular private villa in Goa is located in the state’s north. This 2ha beachside estate is the second home of owner Ajai Lakhanpal, one of India’s leading art collectors and patrons; many of the artists who have stayed at the property have left behind pieces that now adorn this beautiful contemporary home.
The main house has a huge wraparound terrace, five bedrooms and a 25m swimming pool set in fabulous lush gardens dotted with sculptures. In addition there are three two-bedroom cottages called the casinhas and one threebedroom cottage, Villa Venus.
Undoubtedly the most spectacular is the main villa; make sure to reserve for yourself the upstairs all- white bedroom with its private terrace.
Staying here enables you to join an elite group of previous Aashyana guests including royalty, celebrities and elite businessmen. The 20 live- in staff are experienced and helpful, and it would seem churlish not to throw a lavish party while staying here, something that the staff would handle effortlessly.
Bubbles anyone? Main villa from 220,000 rupees ( about $4220) a week. More: aashyanalakhanpal.com. CASA TOTA This delightful 150- year- old Portuguese villa is owned by Antonia Graham, founder of the British lifestyle store Graham and Green, and her son Jamie.
The three-bedroom house with a central courtyard has been sensitively renovated and is beautifully furnished.
There is no swimming pool, but the beach is just 15 minutes away.
November to February peak season ( excluding Christmas), 40,000 rupees a week for the whole house; less at other times. More: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. AVANILAYA Three private bungalows are situated on this 9.7ha property on Corjuem Island, Aldona, about 20 minutes inland from Mapusa, on a hill with scenic rural views, overlooking a tributary of the Mandovi River. Until recently, Loulou Van Damme ran a superb guesthouse called Panchavatti here. The new owners have renamed the property and, at the time of writing, are refurbishing as well as converting the adjacent bungalows into luxury guesthouses, which across the three properties will offer 12 rooms. Room rates include all meals; from 12,000 rupees. More: avanilaya.com. ISHAVILAS This Portuguese colonial house in the heritage village of Siolim, set amid beautiful gardens, was a private home until last year; it is managed by its owners, the Bajaj family, and their long-time staff.
Ishavilas is the first so-called Noble Home on the list of India’s Neemrana accommodation group, which manages the reservations. There are three bedrooms in the main house and a separate poolside dwelling with one bedroom. The large swimming pool is overlooked by a glittering glass mosaic of the elephant-god Ganesh by Goa-based French artist Yahel Chirinian, and is a perfect setting for grand parties or luxurious lounging. There is a spa where the excellent in-house masseuse works, and an Aum Yogashala, or yoga centre, is being built adjacent to the property. Individual rooms may be available. Villa from 20,000 rupees a day; individual rooms from 5000 rupees a day. More: neemranahotels.com. ELSEWHERE A dream location at Mandrem Beach with superb accommodation, this is one of my favourite places not just in Goa but in India. Owner Denzil Sequeira restored these four ancestral properties located on a spit of land between the sea and a saltwater creek. Sequeira is highly protective of his guests’ privacy — the location is a secret until booking, and is reached via a private bamboo footbridge over the creek.
Elsewhere does not discuss its guests’ identities, but it is well known that Angelina, Brad and their children stayed here, and many celebrated writers, including Salman Rushdie and Amitav Ghosh, are regulars.
The dining shack becomes quite a social hub for guests, and firm friendships have been forged here. The Captain’s House and The Priest’s House have three bedrooms each, The Piggery has two bedrooms and The Bakery has two bedrooms with separate entrances that can be taken individually. Besides, Otter Creek Tents at the property’s northern boundary feature four- posters and ensuites.
Tents, minimum one-week stay, from 25,000 rupees; other accommodation from 45,000 rupees a week, depending on the season. More: aseascape.com. KIRANPANI If I could own any house in Goa, this would be the one.
Anders Linnet and his wife, Mette Lange, have lived between Denmark and Goa for the past 20 years. Linnet, an enthusiastic paraglider, spotted this perfect site on a flight in North Goa. It is situated high on a cliff with superb views north to the Tiracol River and the coconut groves that mark the border of Goa with the state of Maharashtra.
Lange, a Danish architect, then created the ideal house for a Goan way of life, using traditional local materials and skills, combined with her superb Danish design aesthetic.
On arrival, you only see a sheer laterite wall; then, as you walk through the front door, panoramic views open out from the open-air, split-level living spaces.
The house has two bedrooms and there is a separate onebedroom guest cottage nestled in the tropical garden.
A delightful small infinity pool is a feature of the sundeck above the barbecue area.
Beach lovers will be pleased that some of Goa’s finest and quietest beaches are j ust 10 minutes away.
There is a resident house manager, Hari, who lives in a separate cottage on the property; the owners have also set up a charity to help children in Goa. More: movingschool.org. From 100,000 rupees a week. Kiranpani is a member of the Lazy Days in Goa villa collection (see Page 2).
j ust SHUNYA NOI VARO Stylish owners Loise Z. Oona and Vikram Sundarji have transformed a 100-year-old Portuguese bungalow into a chic, tranquil, contemporary retreat. The suites are impressive, with understated design using natural materials, and the bathrooms are fabulous, complete with Philippe Starck toilets. The outside space has a dining terrace beside the swimming pool and a tree house overlooking the river. Despite the design matching (indeed, exceed- ing) that of five-star hotels, the laid-back service is more akin to a homestay. The 1000sq mproperty is best rented as a complete villa, taking all three bedrooms; however, depending on availability, guests can also book individual rooms. Discounts are available for artists, designers, musicians and writers during the low season. Rooms from 4750 rupees a day. More: shunyachi.com. QUELLEACHY GALLY This Indo-portuguese house, just 200m from the beach, dates back to 1843 and has been lovingly restored by Marie-christine Rebillet, a French antiques and art dealer whose love affair with India stretches back four decades.
There are four bedrooms in the main house and two in the garden cottage. I love the green and blue rooms at the front of the house, both with four-poster beds. The decor is an effortless blend of vintage and modern, with Rebillet’s exquisite sense of style. Unless the
house is fully booked, the owner is in residence: a gracious host who makes a super espresso. Rooms from 2500 rupees; house from 130,000 rupees a week. More: goaluxuryhouseforrent.com. SUNBEAM Designer, socialite and social activist Jivi Sethi has created a splendid home and is a warm host. When he is travelling (most of the time), his long-term Man Friday, Krishna, is at the helm, looking after guests in impeccable fashion. Sunbeam is located in my favour- ite village, Assagao, and you know you have reached it when you see brightly coloured Balinese dancing flags fluttering in the breeze.
Stone Kalinga lions flank the entrance to the main house, which is set around a central courtyard. As well as the relaxed living space, complete with Chinese opium bed, Sunbeam has a grand formal living and dining room. Two luxurious guestrooms overlook this area and a third guestroom, on the next level, boasts a splendid garden terrace.
A highlight of this property is the flamboyant swimming pool with a huge granite lingam at one end and a superb Nandi bull sculpture at the other. If the house is not fully booked, rooms can be taken individually. From 80,000 rupees a week; rooms from 6000 rupees. More: justjivi.com/goa. THE VILLA GOA AND VILLA JARDIM British owners Mark and Steven are experienced travellers and run this exquisite property to their own exacting standards. Set in a beautiful tropical garden, The Villa Goa is a restored 200-year-old Indo-portuguese mansion with 7m-high ceilings, three luxurious bedrooms and living spaces filled with sophisticated modern furnishings. In the terraced garden is the newly built two-bedroom Villa Jardim, designed in the IndoPortuguese style and overlooking the stunning 18m infinity pool. Steven is a superb chef and Mark is an entertaining host. From 100,000 rupees a week. (At the time of writing the owners were contemplating offering individual rooms for shorter stays.) More: thevillagoa.com. LAZYDAYS IN GOA Sue Watkins and Linda Guthrie, from Britain, fell in love with Goa while on holiday, and in 1995 they created the first villa rental business in India. Today their excellent Lazydays in Goa portfolio comprises 25 properties, including charming heritage villas and modern architectural homes. Some are on the beachfront, others have panoramic views, and almost all offer complete privacy. Prices range from 45,000 rupees to 225,000 rupees a week, depending on the size of the villa, services and time of year.
Villa stays, which are normally for a minimum of one week, may include vehicles with drivers, housekeepers, cooks and security staff, in addition to house man- agers who are on More: lazydays.in.
call 24 hours.
Clockwise from main picture, Elsewhere at Mandrem Beach; Kiranpani; Aashyana Lakhanpal; and Lazydays in Goa’s Josephine Villa