iAppend | 2016's Accommodation Recommendation

In continuing with a self-created and self-initiated tradition that is now in its third year, I present before you a compilation of homestays and hotels that I’ve stayed at during the course of my travels in 2016!

Just like last year’s post, this one also serves as an easy reckoner if you’re going to be in these parts of the country at any point.
I have mentioned availability of free WiFi and the shoe-string budget traveller that I am, I have three tariff brackets* :
< 1000 INR
< 2500 INR and
< 4000 INR.
*These are single night rates on double occupancy basis.
Maharashtra, door, rural, village, India
Doors such as these have welcomes me across the different states I have travelled to this year as well 
Hampi, White Elephant
2016 was the year when I finally struck Hampi off my invisible travel bucket-list. The White Elephant is run by an enterprising and enthusiastic, Moin who will keep you enraptured with his stories. A repeated and disappointing theme that emerged from my conversations with him was about the difficult-ness of Indian tourists!
WiFi: Yes
Tariff: < 1000 INR

Hampi, Karnataka, restaurant, India
The very relaxing restaurant at White Elephant in Hampi, Karnataka

And continuing with the spirit of #HaveFeetWillTravel, from Hampi I made my way to the chilly Chikmagalur and nestled myself at Gonakal Homestay .
My most cherished memory is this:
"Instead of sitting and reading, you should have taken the local bus to some of the local sights!" Meet Mr. Gowda My homestay host in Chikmagalur. His is a 350 year old heritage home on a 40 acre property of coffee bean and spice plantations. At a little over 60 years, he is far more fit and agile than folks less than half his age. He is a man content with his family (which includes 4 dogs). And while he was most curious about me disappearing into the nearby thicket when not reading (instead of taking that bus to check out temples and what-not in the vicinity), he didn't let that limit the scope of our conversations. We had somewhat similar interests: he despises cities and pigeons with intense fervour! It was naturally then quite heart-warming to eavesdrop as he spoke to his wife and neighbour about me in Kannada; for in spite of the language barrier I caught one word: धैर्य (Hindi for guts, nerve). It's a word he repeatedly used to describe whatever he understood of my life as a solo traveller! 
WiFi: No
Tariff: < 2500 INR (inclusive of meals)
You can read all about my experience with courting solitude in Hampi and Chikmagalur here

Chikmagalur, Karnataka, India, homestay, coffee plantation, estate
The magnificent homestay at Chikmagalur, Karnataka 

Adgaon, Homestay via Grassroutes
Adgaon is a sleepy fishing hamlet located on the other side of Murud and not too far away from other popular haunts of Shriwardhan and Lohagad. Our village stay was a house from right across the beach – an image I had until then conjured up in my head as the place somewhere on the map in some remote corner of the world that I’d love to retire at. But here it was. No imagination required!
WiFi: No
Tariff: < 1000 INR (inclusive of meals)
Look up more about how I was allured by Adgaon in this post

Maharashtra, coast, beach, homestay,
The inviting beach at Adgaon along coastal Maharashtra right across the entrance of my homestay
Amritsar, Virasat Haveli
There are places that people sometimes presume you’ve definitely travelled to. Because, well, you are a traveller!
But then you haven’t and it causes eyebrows to disappear into foreheads.
Hampi was one such place.
Amritsar was another.
Historically speaking, because of the Jallianwala Baug massacre.
Culturally speaking, because of The Golden Temple.
Politically speaking, because of the Wagah border.
WiFi: No
Tariff: < 2500 INR
Punjab was a lot more than just history, culture and politics. It was also about its people. Read about them here
Amritsar, Punjab, farmstay, wheat, field, grains
Punjabiyat is food, fields and more - glimpses from my farm-stay 
West Bengal
Kurseong, Homestay at Makaibari Tea Estate
Makaibari is where you’ll meet Amma and Baba
A mother and a father in the disguise of homestay hosts.
It's not every day that you get treated like a daughter of the house when you're in a distant town miles away from the place you call home and the people you call parents.
WiFi: No
Tariff: < 1000 INR (inclusive of meals)
Here’s why Makaibari was not only about tea but also tales and ties

And while I was in West Bengal, I also trekked to Sandakphu!

tea plantation, women, work, West Bengal, India
Women at work on a tea-plantation at Makaibari

Sandakphu, trek, West Bengal, Nepal, India
Up above the world so high... Inching closer to the top at Sandakphu
Tamil Nadu
A one month volunteering project with Manitham in Manamadurai brought me from West Bengal to the state of Tamil Nadu; after which the wanderlust continued.

school, students, voluntourism, volunteer, Tamil Nadu, India
School students from a small district near Madurai in Tamil Nadu

 Thanjavur, Hotel Valli
Located at a stone’s throw away from the railway station, Hotel Valli turned out to be an excellent find. Besides being budget-friendly, it’s also clean and safe. The staff is extremely helpful in helping you find your way around town.
WiFi: Yes (near the reception area only)
Tariff: < 1000 INR

Pondicherry, Mantra
Mantra was quite the find. It was luxury that came at a rather affordable cost and what made that even better was the fact that we had most of the property to ourselves as there weren’t other guests around at that time. Mantra is an earth-friendly construction, BTW!
WiFi: Yes
Tariff: < 2500 INR
You can read all about my exhilarating cycling experience in Pondicherry here

Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu, India, earth friendly building, ecotourism, responsible tourism
The beautiful interiors at Mantra (Pondicherry) - where we had the entire basement to ourselves

 Valparai, Green Hill Hotel
Just like in Thanjavur, Green Hill Hotel is a no-frills, no-fuss hotel with modest rooms. But then again, when one is in Valparai why would one sit inside the hotel room while the great outdoors beckon you?
WiFi: No
Tariff: < 2500 INR
You can read all about my slow travels through the state of Tamil Nadu that spanned over 40 days here

Vembanad Lake, Vembanad Lake Villas
Do you imagine what it would be like when you open the door and you have a water-body gaping at you invitingly? Vembanad Lake Villas is a family run property that is far away from the maddening crowd and ridiculously priced properties across from Kumarakom! It is the ideal kind of place to sit by the lake and read while occasionally glancing around to spot some avian populace! The merits of travelling during the off-season is that you are provided with an upgrade!
WiFi: Yes
Tariff: < 2500 INR

homestay, Vembanad, Kerala, India, lake
That's what you see when you step out of your room at Vembanad Lake Villa in Kerala

After hobo-ing some of my days in Trivandrum at my friend’s ancestral home, I moved to Vasco Homestay at Fort Cochin
Centuries ago, Vasco Da Gama lived within the walls of this exact same structure! Need any other reason why you should not give it a miss? The host family is extremely warm and welcoming. And similar to Vembanad, because I was visiting during the off-season, I got a room upgrade at no extra charge!
WiFi: Yes
Tariff: < 1000 INR
Want to know what tickled and intrigued me about Fort Cochin? Read this post

Fort Kochi, Kerala, homestay, Vasco da Gama
Walls so thick, I felt like I was living inside a fort(Fort Kochi, Kerala)

Pantwari/Nag Tibba, The Goat Village
My first ever invite as a travel-blogger for a property review brought me to Garwahl and I was on top of the world – somewhat literally. The Goat Village - an eco and responsible tourism venture - is all things modest and environmentally sensitive; at least to the extent possible. Every meal follows the 'farm to table' route implying that everything you eat is locally grown.
P.S.: Non-vegetarianism is not encouraged, not at every meal.
WiFi: No
Tariff: < 2500 INR
Want to know what it’s like to be ill-prepared for a trek? Read about my experiences here

Uttarakhand, The Goat Village, responsible tourism, eco tourism, Nag Tibba, Garhwal,
The Goat Village's sit out area where many a meal was had, most often in the quiet company of the mountains

Not all travel in 2016 has been solo but it goes without saying that all of the above mentioned places wouldn’t have made it here if they weren’t safe, clean and managed well.

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