Checking in: Vivanta by Taj, Malabar Cochin

It generally takes a very special situation for me to consider dropping $300+ per night on a hotel room. I rarely see the value in that high a spend for what is essentially a bed and shower in most cases. And when I do stay at such hotels I certainly have higher expectations of them. After all, for that much more money there must be something more that comes with it, right?

The Vivanta by Taj, Malabar Cochin is generally the most expensive property in Kochi and it was certainly not in my price range for the trip. But when things got screwed up at the hotel I was actually booked at and we ended up there I was certainly willing to give it a look and see how the other half lives.


First impressions were solid. The fact that we arrived on foot certainly confused them a bit but they barely missed a beat, welcoming us in and getting us situated in our room reasonably quickly. The room was, by nearly every measure, quite lovely.


Well appointed and the fainting couch rather than a regular chair was a nice touch. Ditto on it being large enough that the desk could face out the window rather than into the wall.


OK, the view could’ve been a bit better, but someone has to get the lesser sight lines and I cannot really complain too much there.


The window in the bathroom was a little strange, but we lowered the shade and took care of that.


So the room was fine. Probably not 8x better than the room we were in prior, but definitely better. What else should come with the higher rate? Location and service are two bits I definitely expect.

The location and views were top notch, so long as you didn’t want to leave the property. If you wanted to visit Fort Cochin, where the history really is, that’s a ferry ride away and not necessarily an easy one to get to (though we arrived on it just fine). I also heard rumors of a private boat shuttle over to the Fort but I never actually saw it in action so I don’t really know.


Service was mostly good, though there were definitely some holes as well. Being greeted by name from a staff member to whom I hadn’t introduced myself was a nice touch. The pool staff rarely cleaning up the area when guests left, routinely running out of towels and being slow on the beer service was notably less impressive. When it was good it was a solid product. But when it was bad, it was pretty insulting considering the prices being charged.

The other thing that was surprisingly disappointing was the quality of the basic amenities. Things like towels that were more scratchy than soft. Yeah, it is a little thing and I certainly still ended up dry at the end of my shower, but those little things are where a hotel that wants to be a true luxury property should shine.

The food at the couple on-site restaurants we tried was pretty good, though not the best meals we had in town. Not particularly surprising given that there were a couple very good restaurants available. Not sure that I really expected more (or if I should have), but it wasn’t amazing. Some decent flavors at least in most meals.

Oh, and they gave us little gifts at check-out. I got a collection of local spices and my wife a ceramic beaded necklace. Definitely a nice touch and a mark in the plus column.

The Vivanta Malabar was nice. It was even great in some areas. But it definitely didn’t demand the rates they were charging. Neither the location, service nor rooms were that much better than other options in town. Then again, it did have rooms and I needed one, so I suppose there’s something to be said for that level of value.

Read more from the India/Sri Lanka New Years adventure here.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. Cute review. They weren’t slow on the beer, you just drank too quickly :-). So did you have to pay in full for the room or was this a discounted stay? How did you end up there?

  2. Scratchy towels are great unless you already had booked in for a full body scrub at their spa – which is wonderful! Anyhow, sun dried towels are more sanitary and save power, maybe the beer guys were hanging the towels out in-between brews!

  3. In India water used for washing etc is typically hard water and that along with sun drying contributes rougher towels. Though I doubt a Taj hotel is going to sun dry their laundry :).

    On my recent stay at St. Regis Princeville I thought the towels were slightly on the rougher side. I expected better towels from such a hotel that routinely charges around $400-500 a night.

  4. The windowed bathroom (shown in your picture) is very similar to a number of W Hotels in the US.

    The presumption is if you sleep with someone (in a room with one bed), you don’t mind them seeing you shower…and, for rooms with a view, you can enjoy the outward view while you shower.

    1. I know the window thing is “normal” in a room of that nature, and I get why. But in my experience such a setup has had the commode separated from the shower/tub. That wasn’t the case here. Having my wife see me shower isn’t such a big deal; the other bits, a little more awkward.

      The towels was an easy thing to cite (it wasn’t just the washing process; the thread count wasn’t there) because they weren’t so great but there were more instances of similar. At the high end of the market in terms of price I have high expectations. They certainly were not met in this instance. The stay was fine and we had a good time, but not good enough for what they were charging IMO.

  5. Seth, make sure you fill out the survey you get a few days after checking out! I mentioned everything I saw at a Taj property in CCU earler this year and the manager responded within a week explaining what they did to rectify things.

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