Family Hotel Review: Brunton Boatyard, Cochin, Kerala, India
Standing on the site of an old shipyard with views of the Arabian Sea is this nautical-inspired boutique hotel that offers plenty of family-friendly amenities and activities.
Best For: History enthusiasts and foodies; kids of all ages
Reviewed by: Katja Gaskell
Why You’ll Love It
Standing on the site of an old shipyard is this family-friendly boutique hotel that offers wonderful views of the Arabian Sea from its 22 bedrooms. Built in a Dutch-Portuguese style, it’s a charming colonial retreat that highlights and celebrates Cochin’s history.
The spacious, two-storey Brunton Boatyard is built around a grassy central courtyard shaded by an enormous Rain Tree, reputedly planted by the Dutch. Old maps are displayed along the breezy, terracotta-tiled corridors alongside oil paintings celebrating prominent figures in Cochin’s history.
Enormous British-influenced punkah fans hang from the pitched ceiling and Dutch loveseats sit alongside curved wooden benches.
There are three restaurants, a lovely swimming pool overlooking the harbour, plus organised activities for getting the most out of Cochin and its surrounds.
Why The Kids Will Love It
Brunton Boatyard is a very easy place for families to stay; there’s a lot of space, the location is ideal and there are welcome family-friendly touches such as high chairs and kids’ menus.
For little kids the wide verandas and grassy central courtyard offer plenty of room to roam. There’s also the harbour-view swimming pool, which will appeal to children of all ages. The location near Cochin’s iconic fishing nets and children’s playground make excursions easy and the hotel also organises daily sunset cruises around the harbour where you might just spot dolphins.
Teens can borrow bicycles and pedal around the old streets of Cochin – make sure to stop at Teapot for freshly baked cakes along the way. The hotel organises a number of kid-friendly excursions too, including trips to the Kathakali centre for traditional dance and martial art performances and crab hunting in the mangroves around Vypeen Island.
There are 22 rooms, 18 standard and four suites. Every room – and bathroom – have sea views. The terracotta-tiled rooms enjoy a subtle nautical theme; blue and white striped curtains, white metal ceiling fans and simple wooden furniture. Ink sketches of prominent Cochin sites hang above the higher-than-average beds (footstools are provided to help you clamber in). French doors open onto private balconies where you can watch life on the water float by.
The suites are positioned in the four corners of the hotel and are extremely spacious with a large living room, generous-sized bedroom with a four-poster bed and two bathrooms. The views from the living rooms are lovely but the rooms themselves are sparsely decorated and can feel somewhat cold compared to the standard rooms. The suites also come with mini kitchen with a sink and fridge.
Best rooms for families: Both the standard rooms and suites can accommodate one extra bed maximum, as well as a baby cot. Families that require more than one extra bed will need to book additional rooms. Families with younger children should inquire, however, as exceptions are often made to this rule. There is one suite and one standard that inter-connect. Cots are available; babysitting is possible with advanced notice for an additional charge.
Brunton Boatyard offers three restaurants: The Armoury, which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and The History Restaurant and The Terrace Grill, both of which are open for dinner only. There’s also a coffee shop, the Tea Lounge.
Breakfast is served in The Armoury and consists of South Indian specialities, freshly baked croissants, muffins and pastries, as well as cereals, fruit and yoghurts.
Lunch is served in The Armoury and the menu offers a range of continental and Keralan dishes. Outdoor dining is also possible during the high season.
For dinner, you can choose between The History Restaurant and the Terrace Grill. The History Restaurant celebrates the history and cultures of the various communities that have lived in Cochin. Traditional family recipes have been sourced and interpreted to create a menu quite unlike any other. For starters try the Sahi Baingan, a speciality from the house of the Devan family who have been in the spice trade for four generations. Main courses include the First Class Mutton Railway Curry, which has its roots in the British Army, and D’Souza Aunty’s Pork Vindaloo is a must try.
The Terrace Grill is the hotel’s seafood speciality restaurant and is only open for dinner during high season. Seafood, fresh from the Chinese fishing nets or from the fishermen who stop at the hotel to sell the day’s catch, is cooked to order. Seating is outdoors overlooking the jetty and sea.
The breezy Tea Lounge overlooking the central courtyard has a compact menu offering light bites including a three cheese melt, grilled watermelon with feta and chilled crab burgers. For something more substantial order the Brunton Club Plate, which includes roast chicken, sausage salami, fried egg and mashed potato. It’s open from 10am-5pm.
For Kids: A kids’ menu is available in The Armoury during the peak season and the staff are more than willing to accommodate requests. Highchairs are available. A room service menu is available.
Activities for Parents
Learn to cook delicious Keralan food with the daily cooking demonstrations held at 6.30pm, you can even make requests to learn the secrets of your favourite dish.
Make an appointment at Aryatheerma, Brunton’s Ayurvedic Centre, for a therapeutic massage. Treatments target everything from energy levels and aching joints to eliminating toxins.
Grab a map of the town from the front desk and explore the streets of Fort Cochin or join the Breakfast Heritage Walk for a unique look at the city following an old Dutch map.
Hop into an auto-rickshaw and putter along to Mattancherry’s Jew Town district, once the centre of the spice trade and now the place for antique shopping.
Make sure to visit the Jewish Cemetery and Paradesi Synagogue; the synagogue dates back to 1568 making it the oldest in the Commonwealth.
Activities for Kids
Swim, splash and play in Brunton Boatyard’s chlorine-free, sea-side swimming pool.
Stroll along to the Chinese Fishing Nets and watch the fishermen manoeuvre these enormous cantilevered contraptions; you might even be able to join in.
While away an hour or two on the small children’s playground near Vasco da Gama square.
Visit the local Kathakali centre and watch the artists apply their colourful and detailed make-up before enjoying a performance of this highly stylised art form. Traditional martial arts demonstrations are also performed here.
Borrow a bicycle, board a boat cruise or catch crabs on a trip to Vypeen Island. Watch the locals hunt for crabs among the mangroves and then perfect your own crab-catching technique.
AC, babysitting available for an additional charge, common rooms, cots doctors & hospitals, 1 extra bed per room, inter-connecting rooms, kids’ activities, kids’ menu available during the main season, laundry service, pushchair friendly, SPA, Swimming pool, travel desk, wheelchair access, WiFi.
Rates vary considerably according to room type, extra bed requests and date of travel. Rooms start from around INR 18,750 / per night, not including taxes. Please contact the hotel directly for an exact quote based on your family’s requirements.
When to go:
Tropical South India is hot year-round but the best time to visit is between October and March when it’s relatively dry and cool(er). During these months temperatures average around 30C. December and January are peak season and this is often reflected in hotel rates. From March the temperatures and humidity increases in the build up to the monsoon, which arrives in June.
Location & Travel:
Brunton Boatyard is located in Fort Cochin, Kerala, India.
Cochin International Airport is at Nedumbassery, 42km from Brunton Boatyard. The drive from the airport to Fort Cochin can take 1 to 1.5 hours owing to the traffic, although this can drop to under an hour if you arrive at night. Brunton Boatyard can arrange transfers from the airport for an additional charge. Air India, Jet Airways, Spice Jet, IndiGo and Go Air all fly to Cochin.
There are two train stations in Ernakulam, Ernakulam Town and Ernakulam Junction. Daily trains run to Trivandrum via either Alleppey or Kottayam and there are also services to Thrissur, Calicut and Kannur.
Contact The Hotel
For more information or to make a booking enquiry, visit the hotel’s own website by following the link below:
Reviewer’s Top Tips!
1) Bring your swimsuit and make the most of the swimming pool overlooking the harbour.
2) Don’t forget to bring mosquito / bug repellent.
3) Make sure to allocate enough time in Cochin in your Kerala schedule, there is a lot to see and do!
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