“ Address: Cochin International Air Port , Nedumbassery-683590, Kerala. INDIA / Airport hotel close to Kochi airport in India. „
~What's in a Name?~
Have you ever booked a hotel just because you thought the name was funny? OK, maybe the temptation of staying in Abad (a bad) Hotel was a driver of choice but it did help that it was the closest and nicest choice near Kochi airport in Kerala. I had originally chosen the hotel and was going to book directly but eventually decided to get the local tour company who was arranging our first few days in Kerala to book it for me. As a consequence, I'm not 100% sure what I ended up paying for our stay but it was around the £45 per night level.
~A Stone's Throw~
Our tour company had promised to send a car to pick us up on arrival and the driver had absolutely no problem to spot us since we were the only non-Indians on the Air India Express flight from Mumbai and we stuck out like pinkie sore thumbs. In retrospect it was probably a bit silly to get a pick up since the hotel was so near you could see it from the airport and there were ample pre-paid taxis available. I suspect that if we'd asked the hotel would also have sent a car. So if you're wondering if this is one of those 'airport hotels' that's only just in the same time zone as the airport, it's not. This one is just down the road. The airport is about 30 km from Kochi city though so this isn't an ideal place for visiting the area from but for us it was a perfect place to base ourselves before starting our tour.
The hotel is just a two or three minute drive from the airport and sits on a road that runs parallel to the runway. It's a clean, white-painted, low rise building with just three floors. We pulled up outside and a porter came to grab out bags and we headed into the large marble lobby with a large reception area and lots of chairs and sofas. One of the nicest things about the lobby which we didn't spot until the next day, was that there were windows all round and there was a lot of natural light. And we watched a lady with a chamois leather polishing those windows for all they were worth.
Check in was quick and we handed over the hotel voucher and our passports, checked availability of internet access and breakfast times and then headed to our room.
~A Room with Some Style~
Our second floor room was on the back of the hotel which I suspected would be quieter than being on the front which was the airport side. However, Kochi isn't a busy airport and I think it would be hard to find a noisy place in this hotel, especially since the corridors were thickly carpeted. That might sound like a bit of an irrelevant detail but this was the only Indian hotel I recall from our past few trips that actually had carpeted hallways and this makes an enormous difference to the amount of noise you get coming through from the corridor.
The room was very smart and I was impressed mostly because I do have a tendency to book rather dodgy hotels in India and this was a much higher standard than the dives I normally go for. I would say that the room was easily to the standard of a European three or four star hotel. The lobby and bathroom had marble floors whilst the main bedroom area had warmer wooden flooring. We had two single beds, each with deep thick mattresses which are unusual in the land of the thin and rock-like mattress. The sheets were crisp and smooth and the pillows soft and fluffy. Each bed had a small upholstered bed head screwed to the wall and a small table sa between the two beds to discourage any pushing them together or any hanky panky. Towards the window end of the room were two arm chairs and a coffee table.
The bathroom had a bath and shower which may sound pretty normal but isn't normal for India where you generally just get a shower head on the wall and hope to shower without drowning everything in the room. There was a toilet and a sink with a good sized vanity unit offering plenty of space for all your bathroom paraphernalia.
Out in the vestibule area of the room there were tea and coffee sachets and a kettle. The main bedroom area had a large suitcase stand, a desk with a mirror above, an old style television and a minibar/fridge. The lighting in the room was also good with a variety of lamps according to your needs. The walls were decorated with hand painted flower pictures.
~Sea Food Frenzy~
We ate dinner and breakfast in the restaurant and, since it was our first dinner after arriving in India we decided not to be mean and splashed out a bit. We didn't notice any alcohol in the restaurant and we weren't offered any so I'm unsure whether the hotel serves alcohol. It's not unusual for Indian hotels to be dry but I would have expected one of this price range to have had a bar, but we saw none. I also forgot to check out the contents of the mini-bar so I'm still unsure of the whether there was any booze on site. There was a bound menu with lots to choose from and a card on the table advertising their seafood specials. On most trips to India I'm a strict situational vegetarian. My normal seafood and fish consumption gets abandoned in favour of the safety of vegetarianism. However, this trip was mostly on the coast and I was ready to relax my normal regime and make the most of the availability of great seafood.
My husband ordered tandoori king prawns which were served with mint chutney, rice and a small salad though he wasn't ready to relax his food hygiene obsession to the point of eating salad. I ordered a so-called 'Ethnic Seafood Grill' which consisted of squid rings, tentacles, white fish chunks and prawns large and small, with and without tails. This was served with rice that contained cardamoms, dried fruit and nuts and it was very spicy. My husband is a few notches down the scale of spice tolerance from me so I couldn't work out why he looked calm and serene and I was scraping the spice paste off the outside of my food. Then we swapped a forkful of each other's dinners and realized that his was pretty mild whilst (in the words of the famous Spinal Tap) mine went to eleven on the scale of hotness. All of this was served with a basket of flat breads.
In addition to the food we had a bottle of water, two sweet lime sodas and - to soothe the afterburn - two sweet lassis. In total the bill came to 1100 rupees - about £13 - which was almost exactly what we'd paid at Mumbai airport for some very average fast food. It was the most expensive meal we had in the first 10 days of our trip but the quality was exceptional and the freshness of the fish outstanding.
Breakfast the next morning was a bit ordinary. The juice was watermelon (really not a fruit that juices well) although we did enjoy watching a pilot throw cold coffee down himself. We had coffee and tea and my husband tackled the cornflakes, whilst I had a go at the fruit salad. Hubby went for the sedate option of a cheese omelette whilst I got into the holiday groove with egg curry, bhaji and flat breads with tomato, onion and coconut chutneys. This is the kind of thing you do at the beginning of a holiday before your stomach cries 'Time Out' and runs up the white flag.
The hotel has a swimming pool and a health club which we neither saw nor used and both were closed by the time we arrived and I'm not entirely sure where they were. It also has a small business centre which is basically a room with a computer you can use to check email. If you want wi-fi in your room it costs about £4 for 12 hours. There's also a small souvenir shop but we didn't see it open whilst we were there. Normal hotel facilities like laundry service and support with travel arrangements were also available.
We had arrived after dark and had no idea what would be outside the bedroom windows. I was expecting a built up and rather industrial area and when I drew back the curtains I stopped in surprise at the view across lush green fields. A water buffalo was tethered in the field and to one side we watched some locals going about their early morning ablutions. The lush greenery and surprising tranquility was a great introduction to the beauty of Kerala that we were just about to set out and see.
The Abad hotel group has about a dozen hotels and resorts, all of them in Kerala. We saw several of them during our time in the state and all looked to be just as good as the one we stayed in. If you can get over the irony of booking 'a bad' hotel they do seem to offer a great alternative to the better known and often more expensive hotel chains.