Home Stays in India

  • Post last modified:23 February 2023
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Home Stays in India

Going over to other important supplementary accommodation unit, it turns out that, the home stays occupy an important position. From the many options available, here our discussion is on ten top home stays in India.

Home stays are becoming increasingly popular, allowing one to experience real India at affordable prices. The Indian “home stay” experience has grown from strength to strength since the idea first emerged in Kerala, a decade or so ago.

Now there are home stay tours and specialist agencies for the many hospitable families offering modestly priced accommodation in a variety of homes from city apartments to plantation houses.

The majority are in the far north or the far south (Delhi, Rajasthan, Kerala), but the idea is spreading into other states. As a general rule, they are middle-class houses, largely run by the active retired professionals, though there are younger, or poorer, families among home stay hosts.

Website galleries proudly feature pictures of “European-style toilets”; they often promise safe drinking water, station and airport pickups, and drinks in the lounge among the family portraits. Some simply offer homely bed and breakfast while others veer towards the boutique hotel (which is reflected in the price), but the ones to look for are those that invite one to join the family, sample home-cooked regional food and explore the suburbs, hilltops and backwaters of those corners of India one might never otherwise see.

Some of the popular home stays in India as recognized by Tourism Department, Government of India are as follows.

Sirohi House, Old Delhi

The former home of the Maharajah of Sirohi, this mansion of a townhouse is close to Civil Lines, in the thick of Old Delhi, beyond the gates, a private drive leads up to a grand entrance. It’s big on ornate fireplaces, chandeliers, carved hardwood, bits of Hindu temple.

For guests there’s a choice of two standard doubles and two suites, all with bathrooms, air-condition and cable TV, plus the run of the communal rooms – including a cocktail lounge with bar where one can chat over.

They serve up sit-down meals, buffets, barbecues, picnics, canapés and even room service. And a big plus is the lovely urban garden – a world away from the mayhem of the Indian capital.

Vikram and Paaro Ranawat’s home, Jaipur

Vikram is a retired air force officer; Paaro is descended from the Rajput aristocracy and she has her own clothing company (kaftans and vegetable-dyed cottons). Their home is a suburban villa to the west of Jaipur; a series of airy, open-plan living spaces arranged around a flowerfilled atrium; marble floors, a roof terrace, antique-modern furnishings, two guest bedrooms with a private lounge and a self-contained cottage in the garden. Paaro can organise cookery demonstrations, Hindi lessons, yoga classes, or a visit to her clothing factory.

Mr and Mrs Mehra’s home, Dehradun

Set in a quiet residential area, the house has a bowling-green lawn, geraniums spilling out of window boxes and views of the Shivalik hills – this city in the Doon Valley is the capital of Uttarakhand and makes a handy stopover en route from Delhi to the Himalayan National Park.

From the balcony one can see the misty forests of Mussoorie – the socalled Queen of hill stations. One can walk there in three hours or, for a modest fee, borrow the Mehras’ car and driver.

Colonel’s Retreat, Delhi

This smart city bolthole in south Delhi’s Defence Colony is home to well-travelled couple Arun and Suman Khanna. Three bright guest rooms offer clean-cut decor and all modern consumer appliances.

There are balconies to sit out on, views of the city, staff to look after one (all meals are provided on request), plus the help and hospitality of the charming hosts. Shops, markets, restaurants and the Humayun tomb, a World Heritage site, are all within walking distance.

Capella, Northern Goa

Jamshed and Ayesha Madon’s lovely Goan house sits in lush tropical gardens in a quiet hamlet roughly halfway between the market town of Mapusa and Baga beach. Jamshed, an ex-merchant marine, and Ayesha, a former journalist, built the traditional-style house after moving south from Mumbai to start a new life.

All rooms are furnished with snazzy modern bathrooms and antique beds. Relax on the verandah or the sala (the Madons’ living room), enjoy simple, homemade lunches such as curries, rice and salads.

Spiti Homestays, Himachal Pradesh

This isn’t one’s homestay, rather the whole community of them – a choice of 14 in all, spread across six high-altitude villages all in the isolated Pin Valley, set against the frosted peaks of the Himalayas (Kibber, one of the world’s highest villages, stands 4,500m above sea level).

As home stays go, these mud-and-brick dwellings are a bit rougher than most (instead of bathrooms one get buckets of hot water, and the toilets are composting squats) but the guest rooms – one a household – are clean, and colourful, furnished with rugs and folksy fabrics.

Besides homecooked Spitian cuisine (momos perhaps, or noodle soup), one gets rugged scenery, invigorating mountain air, smiling faces and the odd yak safari. Not only will one step into a way of life in this Bhuddist community that hasn’t really changed for centuries, but one will also help to keep it going.

Nelpura, Alappuzha, Kerala

At Kuttanad, a tranquil corner of the Keralan backwaters, this “heritage homestay” is the 150-year-old home of a Syrian Christian family, Chackochan Edayady (Mr Chacko) and his wife Salimma.. A traditional Keralan granary house (carved wood, a wraparound verandah, a pagodalike tiled roof), provides three guest rooms (two are air-conditioned); and the food is fresh, homely and plentiful.

Visit the magnificent St Mary’s Forane church at Pulinconnoo, meet the locals, potter about in a country boat, or take a backwater trip to, say, Alappuzha (12 miles away).

Evergreen Estate Bungalow, Mundakayam, Kerala

In the heart of rubber country (between the hot coastal plains and the high tea gardens of the Western Ghats), George and Anju Abraham’s 1950s house looks more Florida than Kerala – all Art Deco curves and decks of concrete – but what it offers is a taste of traditional Indian plantation life.

Set in a tropical garden, peeking at the Mundakayam Valley through slender rubber trees, the bungalow has two large, simply furnished guest rooms, whirling ceiling fans, wicker chairs on shaded verandahs.

George’s family has farmed here for generations and he’s keen to show one around: the Pullakaya River, the village rubber factory, Mundakayam’s colonialera planters’ club. Dine en famille, while Anju bustles in and out with plate after plate of wonderful food: Appams with mild vegetable stew, fish moily, meat-ball curry, banana fry, fresh passion fruit juice (home grown). One can nip into the kitchen and see how it’s done.

Glenora Homestay, Wayanad, Kerala

In the Wayanad District, a belt of rainforest in the northern Keralan highlands, Glenora is one of those homestays for whom success has meant a push upmarket – but that doesn’t dim the quality of the experience. Home to the hospitable Rajagopal family, and registered as a “farm tourism provider”, the house is set in 90 acres of coffee, pepper, betel nut, lime, ginger, guava and avocado among other fruit and spices.

As well as three light, well-furnished rooms in the house, there are two new cottages on stilts (each of the latter has two balconies overlooking the plantation – birds, monkeys, foliage and not another house in sight). Activities include trekking, jeep safaris, badminton and trips to Sunrise Valley (less than a mile away), Meenmutty Falls or the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary.

Nandan Farms, Sawantwadi, Maharashtra

In the Sindhudurg region of southern Maharashtra, this rustic, adobe-style home offers two guest rooms opening on to a wide verandah that overlooks Ammu and Ashish Padgaonkar’s farm – 12 acres of cashews, pineapples and coconut palms.

It’s off the beaten track, a bit of real India, but they offer hot water, proper loos and a great location. To the east is Amboli, the little hill station in the Sahyadri hills, to the west, the beaches of Vengurla – both are less than 20 miles away.

Hop on a train at nearby Sawantwadi station (on the mainline Konkan Railway), and one can be in northern Goa in half an hour (the state border is some 10 miles south). Or just stay put; try a local bullock-cart ride, kcik back in a Nandan Farms hammock or enjoy Ammu’s excellent cooking (fried mackerel, say, or Malvani-style chicken curry).

Apart from these popular home stay units, various state governments have promoted home stays in select tourist destinations through policy measures with the aim of providing employment and income to local residents. For example government of Puducherry promotes home stays by giving financial incentives and marketing help to the owners.

Willing house owners apply to the government to designate their house for home stays and such applicant are selected based on their proposal and kind of houses they own. Heritage buildings are given priority for selection since income generated from such home stays can contribute maintenance of such houses.

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