Sleeping on a Private Island

Soma Kerala Palace

An island getaway in the Kerala backwaters – the perfect retreat.

“You know what I just realized? We are on a private island of our own!”

Sherry cocks her head ever so slightly to consider this. She lets out a laugh! “You are right!”

It is our second day at Soma Kerala Palace, an Ayurvedic Resort that is situated on a tiny private island, on a lake 55km south of Kochi. It is the beginning of the off-season. A Polish lady and the two of us are the only occupants on this 25-room property.

Soma Kerala Palace Island

Our boat pulling up to the reception desk on the island.

The small island is only accessible by boat. The entire shorelines of the lake are visible, and the distance between you and closest shoreline is a couple minute of swim away, private, but not removed. We decided to spend a week here to get some writing done before we set off on The Rickshaw Run across the length of India. We were looking for quiet, except being here by ourselves was a bit of a surprise. On our first morning, we silently tracked the Polish lady’s every move. Is that a camera she’s got? I wonder what she is photographing. Is she here by herself? What is she doing? Look, she changed her clothes, where is she going?

Yes. We will happily re-enact “Grumpy Old Men” for you.

As soon as we got over the strangeness of having the entire island resort to ourselves, we perked up!

There is a fantastic (albeit some what comically tortuous) yoga class taught by a lovely yoga master, George, every morning. There is an Ayurvedic doctor on site for consultation and the spa offers a wonderful range of treatments. We both tried the Sarvanga Uzhichil (full body massage with herbal oil). Sherry had the Vadanakanthi (herbal facial with a cornucopia of fruit and vegetable pulp) and I tried to open my third eye with Sirodhara (a continuous dripping of warm herbal oil on your third eye for 45 minutes).

yoga soma kerala palace

Yoga master George. No, we didn’t quite achieve this pose in our 6 day retreat…but we tried!

Soma Kerala Palace India

Poolside relaxation


The kitchen is miraculous. Don’t be snobbish. At first glance, the menu seems like it’s identical to every other restaurant menus except, oh my god, the food is so good! Everything is fresh, clean, with flavors impeccably balanced and sumptuous. Coconut Rice and Dhal Fry, Kerala style thali served on a banana leaf, Lemon Rice with Fish Masala and Alu Gobi, and Chicken Chettinad were a few of the dishes we devoured. These might seem like typical Indian food, but oh, you would be wrong to assume so. Not only is Kerala Cuisine in a class of its own, the chef here at Soma Kerala Palace makes each dish with such care and precision, I only wish I had a tape worm so I could keep on eating.

Kerala thali

Kerala style Thali on a banana leaf.  Photo by Charlie Grosso

soma kerala palace food

Our favorite secluded dining spot. We had it all to ourselves. Photo by Charlie Grosso

herbal water kerala

Pretty in Pink bottomless herbal water

The architecture on the resort is magnificent. We are staying in the “Nalekkatt” house. Sree Suryanatayana Pillai owned it around 1800. He was among the Nelekkatt Pillais who were brought to Travancore by the Maharaja from Tamil Nadu’s Vijayanarayanapuram to help him assist in the administration of the state. This Nalekkatt mansion was re-located to Kerala Palace in 2003 and re-fitted as a hotel room.

The white mosquito net contrast against the four-poster bed with broad dark wood flooring is exquisite. Our room has a private outdoor sitting area. It is our temporary office. We write, take an occasional break to watch the pigeons flirt and engage in feather flying pigeon sex for inspirations.

Soma Kerala Palace rooms

Beautifully transformed rooms with cultural significance. Photo by Charlie Grosso

Soma Kerala Palace

Nalekkatt house – we had the whole place to ourselves and loved our porch!

Soma Kerala Palace Buildings

All of the buildings on the island had porches and cultural significance. Photo by Charlie Grosso

The perfect temperature pool, hammocks and the lovely eager staff are here for us and us alone. Just when you scoffed at the idea of being somewhere off-season, you get to have a private island all to yourself!

Guest post by Charlie Grosso Photographer and writer at  Spy Travelogue – and my partner in crime in India this March/April!

See all photos of the beautiful Soma Kerala Palace property – and see why it can be a perfect island for a retreat

Disclosure: Charlie and I were guests of Soma Kerala Palace however all of our opinions expressed here are our own.  

Your Comments

13 Comments so far

  1. Katie says:

    Sounds delightful! Just having your own yoga classes sounds great, even without the rest of the island! Looking forward to hearing more about your adventures in India :-)

  2. Karisa says:

    This sounds like such a lovely, private and restorative place :) I’d especially love to plant myself by the pool!

  3. Sounds like such a lovely experience! Very relaxing and romantic. It must be nice to have your own private dinners with such delicious food too.

  4. Peter Thomas says:

    Seems like a good place if you want peace of mind. Thanks for sharing it!

  5. flightjoker says:

    This island looks amazing! I have been to Goa twice and I have to say that I love India. I might even go to your Hotel. But my biggest concern is that my stomach can´t quite cope with the indian cuisine. Do they offer non indian dishes aswell?



  6. This looks unbelievable! And your pics are stunning… Thanks for sharing :)

    Let me know if you make it out to Korea anytime soon!

  7. Jason frahm says:

    Your experiences in Soma Kerala Palace, an Ayurvedic Resort, definitely must have been an absolute retreats. The yoga class, poolside relaxation, and specially the food on the banana leaf must be extraordinary.

  8. Just stumbled across this as I’m heading out to Kerala in February and was looking for a retreat. This one looks right up my street, pigeon sex and all!! :)

    • Sherry says:

      Yay! Let me know if you actually make it there Hayley! I really had a super time there – so relaxing. And I miss George our yogi teacher every day still. he had the best smile ever…

  9. Rajesh says:

    Oh wow this looks amazing. The view, the food, the sea, everything. Thanks for sharing all of this with us !

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