Kovalam is Kerala's most famous beach town. Unlike quieter Varkala, it's well and truly been discovered and developed. The action congregates around two main beaches -- Hawa (also called Eve's beach) and Lighthouse (the biggest and busiest of the two) -- with a walkway along the seafront. There's no shortage of hotels in Kovalam, but these are five of the best ones to suit all budgets. If you're looking to save money, forgo the beach and travel to Kovalam during the May-September monsoon season, and you'll be able to enjoy discounts of 50% or more on room rates. This even makes luxury hotels affordable.
1. The Leela
If you're looking for luxury in Kovalam, the Leela is the most indulgent hotel you'll find. The atmosphere and views are magical, making this hotel very high on romance. The hotel is located on the side of a cliff overlooking the ocean, and has its own private beach. The beach view rooms have their own sun deck, while the peaceful garden view rooms are located in a coconut grove right near the water. There's a stunning infinity swimming pool as well. Excellent monsoon discounts are available from May until the end of September, and it's possible to pick up a hotel room for under $150. Otherwise you can expect to pay $220-320 for a double room per night, including taxes, depending on the time of year.
2. Taj Vivanta
The popular Taj Green Cove hotel is now known as the Taj Vivanta. Although it still has the same lush hillside location, it wears a revitalized new look. The hotel is quite intimate and only has 59 cottages spread over 10 acres. It's peaceful and relaxing. A highlight is the hotel's beachside restaurant called Bait, which serves up fresh seafood. However, the hotel isn't a beach resort. The ocean is around a 10 minute walk away, and the beach is submerged from March to November, so most guests prefer to relax by the infinity pool amongst nature. The Taj Vivanta is slightly less costly than the Leela. Expect to pay $120 onwards for a double room, depending on the time of the year. It's usually possible to get a room for under $200.
The best thing about Hotel Sea Rock is its fabulous, convenient location on Hawa beach. The hotel has a terrace restaurant overlooking the ocean, and airy sea facing rooms with balconies. Note that there's no elevator though, and food in the restaurant is quite expensive. Expect to pay around 5,000 rupees ($100) per night upwards during peak season.
The funky and fashionable Beach Hotel has two locations a few minutes walk apart on Lighthouse Beach. The rooms at both places are sea facing, and are clean and airy, with private balconies or verandahs. Beach Hotel I, the older of the properties, is decorated in earthy tones. It has a German bakery, restaurant, and bookshop. Beach Hotel II is more modern and bright, and in a quieter location. Five of its 10 rooms have air conditioning. There's also a fusion cuisine restaurant and coffee bar. Rates vary depending on the property, room, and time of year. Expect to pay around 2,500 rupees upwards for double, per night.
Sea Flower Beach Resort is an old favorite and has the same fabulous location as The Beach House II, on Lighthouse Beach, but for much less. Its 14 plain rooms are simply furnished and spread over three floors. The top floor rooms all have private sea facing balconies, while the balconies on the middle floor are shared. The views are outstanding and staff friendly! Rates for ground floor rooms range from 600-900 rupees per night, depending on the time of year. Rates for the other rooms range from 1,150-3,000 rupees per night, depending on the time of year and whether the room is air conditioned. The air conditioned rooms are on the top floor.