The onslaught of Goa season caught us a bit by surprise this year, and we’ve been having sleepless nights ever since. That niggling bit of restlessness has found its way in and now we can’t wait to throw a few things in our bags and head on over to our favourite annual, vacation spot. Considering we’ve covered everything from the most luxurious places to spend a night to budget cottages and the meals you cannot miss, which exude plenty of charm, you already know we’ve got your back when it comes to helping you plan your trip.
Only this time, rather than force you to break the bank at high-end boutique hotels or luxurious pads, we’re focussing on budget home stays. They’re always cheaper and have a far more personal touch. So we scoured the Goan landscape and picked out eight of our favourites for you. From the South to the North, and bamboo huts to Portuguese-styled cottages, there’s something for everybody’s taste in here. Scroll on to see which suits you best. You can thank us later.
I. Arco Iris
Curtorim, South Goa
Acro Iris is a homestay in a restored heritage bungalow that overlooks a seasonal lake and is located close to the Zuari River. With four rooms named after colours—Yellow, Orange, Indigo and Violet, this peaceful bungalow is a great option for those looking for a quiet, secluded holiday. Our favourite room is Indigo. It’s the only one located on the upper storey and has a separate dressing area and private balcony. The house contains beautiful antique furniture, and local art. Nearby attractions include St. Alex’s Church, the beaches of Colva and Varca, and Margao Market.
Cost: A room for two costs between Rs. 4,000 to Rs. 8,500 per night. Not too ludicrous for Goa at this time of year.
Parra, Bardez, North Goa
Okay, we’ll admit we’ve been eyeing this beauty for a while, but you’ll understand why once you read what we have to say about it. Capella is a very chic luxury homestay in the village of Parra. Brownie points: it sits on its very own hill. That’s just a notch below having a private beach, we think. The house has three rooms, all named after flowers: Magnolia, Heliconia, and Frangipani. Our favourite is Heliconia. It looks over the swimming pool and out onto the fields and hills beyond. It also has a sit-out terrace perfect for reading—or that late night contemplation we all tend to indulge in after we’ve had one too many glasses of wine. The beaches of Baga and Calangute are only 15 minutes away, while Morjim and Arambol are about a 30-minute drive. But if you don’t feel like leaving (we don’t blame you, look at that pool), Capella has a collection of books, board games and DVDs that will keep you occupied.
Cost: When it only costs Rs. 6,900 per night for two people (including breakfast), you begin to question why you live in an overpriced metropolis.
Hospedaria Abrigo de Botelho is located in the heart of Panjim’s lively Latin Quarter, Fontainhas. Over 150 years old, this quaint boutique guesthouse still maintains its characteristic Portuguese charm and has eight rooms, of which, the Premium Rooms are our favourites. Located at the very top of the house, these rooms with their antique furniture overlook the narrow streets of the Latin Quarter, and give you a peek into Goan city life. While it’s not often that one goes to Goa and decides to stay in Panjim, if you do ever find yourself having to sacrifice the beach for the city, we suggest snapping up a room here. There’s plenty to see and do nearby as well: boutiques, art galleries, bakeries, and restaurants.
Cost: A room for two is priced between Rs. 3,000 and Rs. 5,000 per night, inclusive of breakfast. That’s a win as far as we’re concerned.
Sinquerim, Bardez, North Goa
Marbella Guest House opened in 1986 and was built in the style of an old Portuguese mansion and is located a mere 10 minutes from Sinquerim Beach. This homestay has three suites—the Penthouse, Rajasthani and Moghul, and three guestrooms—the Garden room and Bougainvillea 1 and 2, all with en-suite bathrooms, air-conditioning and TVs. If you really want to splurge, go ahead and book the Penthouse suite. It comes with a separate living room and attached private terrace. Plus, it has a bed that you really may not want to get out of. Aguada Fort is also nearby, but if you want to spend some time by yourself, take a walk down some of the sleepy village roads in and around Sinquerim.
Cost: Between Rs. 3,400 to Rs. 6,400, sadly, exclusive of breakfast. But that’s the only downside—Marbella is gorgeous otherwise. A minimum two-night stay is required.
Olaulim village near Aldona, North Goa
Olaulim Backyards, besides being wonderful to say, is a delightful little homestay with only four cottages. Made from brick and local material such as bamboo, coconut wood and palm leaves—with large windows that ensure the interior is always cool—it’s the slice of holiday life you’ve always wanted to try. Even the bathrooms are partially open to the sky. Each cottage is tailored to meet specific needs. For example, if you’re a couple, book the Golden Oriole Cottage—it’s wonderfully secluded. If you’re travelling with family, you’ll want to book the Horn Bill Cottage, it’s got a separate loft for the little ones to sleep. There’s a whole bunch of stuff to do here too: kayaking, bird watching, cycling, fishing, and nature walks.
Cost: A room for two costs Rs. 5,200 per night and includes breakfast and all in-house activities. Start packing those bags.
VI. Quinta da Graça
Saligao, Bardez, North Goa
Quinta da Graça is a beautiful heritage homestay located in the quiet village of Saligao in Bardez. It’s got four bedrooms and an additional open-plan two-bedroom cottage. The owners are long-time Goa residents and are very helpful with recommendations and suggestions—though frankly, we’d be happy sitting on the veranda with a book and endless glasses of chilled beer along with some spicy Goan sausages. All the bedrooms at Quinta da Graça are named after fruits—but in their Portuguese names. So you have Melancia (watermelon), Limao (lemon), Manga (mango), Amora (blackberry), and Laranja (orange)—each with their own distinct style and statement pieces. The rooms are AC and there’s free Wi-Fi and a library for you raid. Remember that in Goa, the best way to get around is to hire a bike or car since taxis tend to overcharge. The owners can help you arrange transport at an additional cost. If you don’t feel like hitting the beach, check out the local neighbourhood. Saligao has a gorgeous Gothic churched called Mae de Deus and a nearby ayurvedic centre. But if you do want to bum around on the beach, Calangute, Baga, Candolim and Sinquerim are all a 15-minute drive away.
Cost: Between Rs. 3,200 and Rs. 5,500 for a room for two per night—and breakfast is included. What are you waiting for?
Assagaon, North Goa
Sunbeam is a contemporary four-bedroom home in the village of Assagaon in North Goa. The property is characterised by bright colours, bold accents and statement pieces, such as the Chinese opium bed on the shaded porch. The centre of attention here is definitely the long swimming pool, complete with a granite shiva lingam at the far end. Sunbeam is surrounded by rice paddies and plenty of greenery, and is only a 15-minute drive from the beaches of Vagator, Candolim and Anjuna. If you revel in bold design, we highly recommend this homestay. There are traditional touches throughout the home as well, such as in the dining and living rooms, which are inspired by the old furnishing styles of Goan homes.
Cost: A room here will set you back a minimum of Rs. 6,500 per night for two. But considering the house, it’s still a pretty good deal.
VIII. The Only Olive
Aldona, North Goa
The Only Olive is a beautifully restored colonial-style villa that sits on an 18,000 sq ft. estate in Aldona, on the shores of the Mapusa River. Like most traditional Goan houses that have Portuguese influences, The Only Olive has a veranda (also known as a balcao) where you can sit back and pop some of those delicious Goa cashews into your mouth as you sip on your King’s. There are three bedrooms here—the Master, Heritage and Olive, which makes it easy to book in entirety if you plan to visit with a group of friends. While the Heritage and Olive share a bathroom, the Master has its own. If you can drag yourself out of bed early, we suggest taking a walk down to the river in the morning, it’s perfectly tranquil .
Cost: For between Rs. 2,999 and Rs. 3,499 per night, inclusive of breakfast, it’s a steal.
Palolem, Canacona, South Goa
The Village Guesthouse is an eight-bedroom guesthouse located in the village of Palolem and is a five-minute walk from the beach. All rooms come with Wi-Fi and air-conditioning. We love the large double rooms at this homestay—gorgeous four-poster beds, bright linens and en-suite bathrooms. The Village Guesthouse lays quite a strong emphasis upon locally sourced products, to the extent that even their tequila comes from Andhra Pradesh.
Cost: Rs. 3,480 to Rs. 6,164 a night. Sadly, it’s not on Palolem beach or we’d have been happy to fork out more.
Chaudi, Canacona, South Goa
Turiya Villa & Spa gets its name from the Sanskrit word meaning ‘experience of pure consciousness’. That’s a pretty hefty commitment to your brand, but this place definitely delivers. To start with, it’s been laid out in accordance with vastu—but the house itself is over 100 years old. Each of the four rooms at Turiya is named after a different constellation from Vedic astrology, so you have Rohini, Bharani, Ashvini, and Ardra. We recommend Bhairani because it has its own private veranda. Turiya is ideal for those looking for a wellness holiday as its on-site spa, Hastha, has everything from Ayurveda to weight loss on offer. Once you’ve de-stressed enough, there are plenty of things to do in Canacona. Number one on the list is a visit to Palolem, one of Goa’s most stunning beaches—white sand, turquoise water and tons of shacks to choose from, all of which serve delicious seafood.
Cost: Rs. 5,000 onwards per night for a room for two, inclusive of breakfast and a 10 percent discount on spa treatments. A holistic holiday if there ever was one, we think.
Words: Neville Bhandara