Hotels in Goa: Laguna Anjuna vs Shalai Cliff Resort vs Tamarind Hotel
Traveling to Goa during monsoon season can be a very rewarding experience, especially if you dislike crowds and love the rain. Natural Goa, so lush, contrasts well with the jewel tones of the fabulous Portuguese villas sprinkled about the countryside. I stayed in Anjuna for close proximity to the happenings, although during season I prefer the Ashvem-Morjim area.
Because it was off season for tourists, there were many options for hotels. I choose to book a night or two at a time, to give myself some flexibility with accommodations.
LAGUNA ANJUNA was recommend to me by close friends who reside in Goa full time, I checked out the website and was pleased with what I read. Laguna Anguna was cited to be "reminiscent of the old Goa, a portugese villa nestled in the jungle, with an amazing pool. If a spotless, pristine boring boutique hotel was your idea of perfect hotel living, this was not the place for you...."
I booked 2 nights for 2,200 rs a night ( $32 ) for a 1 bedroom cottage all to myself. I was excited to see the adjoining living room, perfect for me to take my laptop and work whilst listening to the rain. Plus a gorgeous pool to swim in whenever I craved some aquatic moments. Unfortunately, Laguna Anjuna seemed a vestige of its former glory, the property was very faded and could have used a ton of maintenance. My cottage smelled of cigarette smoke and strong disinfectant, the mosquito netting over the bed had a few holes, the floors were a little dirty, and some shelves looked liked they were craving a dusting. The doors were not sealed, which I was prepared for (It's great that the website is upfront about the pros and cons of a jungle enviroment- bugs come gratis!), but the amount of wildlife that shared the room with me was a little disconcerting for a city mouse such as myself. The WIFI was pretty reliable though, so I spent most of my time there hanging out the restaurant, or swimming the pool, which was glorious except that my feet were stained blue from the paint job on the pool floor. There was live music at the hotel which was fun, and created a social situation that i didn't have to put forth effort to obtain. I later went out with Piero and Deryl dancing at Curlies late until the wee hours, then I curled up in the actually really soft bed to get some rest.
SHALAI CLIFF RESORT was my next destination. After living da jungle lyfe, my soul was clamoring for some beachy breezes. Situated on top of a cliff on Ozran-Vagator beach with magnificent views, Shalai seemed to be the foil to the stifling humidity encountered at Laguna Anjuna. The grounds of Shalai were breathtaking! Cute little cottages that were minimally and tastefully decorated with lots of outlets, even outside on the sweet balcony where I spent most of my time watching the waves roll in. A great bathroom and shower, mini bar and TV. Really well landscaped green spaces and what looked to be an amazing restaurant and bar space, but was unfortunately closed due to renovations. Alas, Shalai was in a major state of (re)construction when I arrived. I understand that there needs to preparation for the upcoming rains, but my advice is to shut down for a week or so to get 'er done. The monsoon prep included covering all the open spaces with tarps to prevent water damage which ruined the amazing aesthetic of the place. The final straw was when I was woken up at 8am by the employees hammering into my cottage, preparing to add clear tarps to the open spaces of my cottage. I had to "assert" myself to reception, who were ultra accommodating and thus the workers moved on to another project, but still. The WIFI sitch was also very sporadic, which was frustrating, as I longed to spend time writing and make good use of the seclusion this hotel offered. Fortunately they still had room service, because I would have been screwed considering the hotel's isolated location. I felt slightly guilty calling every hour our so for another beer, a problem that could have been alleviated had i been able to sit at the bar
This hotel has the potential of being amazing, and I'm sure during season when it's super expensive, it actually is amazing.
My off season price for a 1 room cottage was 5,500 rs per night ( $81 )
THE TAMARIND HOTEL was my return to the inhabited world, after the solitude of Shalai. It was featured in one of my favorite boutique hotel websites, Tripzuki, but when I first arrived in Goa, it seemed too far away from the beach so it was my last option.
Overall, in terms of hospitality, I had the best experience there. The hotel staff were charming and soliticious of my needs, they upgraded" me to a large room with gigantic balcony over looking the pool. The room itself was subtly furnished, with a strong color theme throughout the decor. Huge bathroom, all the windows actually had screens ( a huge plus in mosquito laden Goa) . The restaurant had the most extensive menu, including delicious baked goods and lots of coffee variations, and there was a bar. An actual operational bar! The Tamarind hotel actually had other guests staying there, so there were lots of people for me to observe while I hung out in the common areas. The pool itself wasn't as tranquil and romantic as the one at Laguna Anjuna, but it was diligently cleaned everyday so win for me. All in all, this hotel was a hip happening place, where the staff paid attention to details, and was in a central location where I could easily explore both Anjuna beach, and neighboring inland villages such as Siolim, Chapora, and Assagao. Off season price was 3,000 rs per night ( $45 )
Everywhere in Goa, the power would shut down intermittently throughout the course of the day, mostly when the rain was heavy.
Construction was also happening at Laguna Anjuna and Tamarind Hotel, but much more discreetly.