House boat in Kerala (Gourmet Chick in India)

Sometimes the best laid travel plans go awry.  When I was traveling in India cruising along the backwaters of Kerala on a thatched house boat sounded like my idea of paradise.  I imagined myself sunbathing on the balcony of the house boat while watching the locals paddle past in their canoes before heading downstairs for a feast of Keralan food and a cold Kingfisher beer.

Our captain steers us down the Kerala backwaters

To try to get a better deal on the boat we teamed up with our friends Will and Lucy and headed to the jetty at Alleppey to directly negotiate a houseboat for two nights.  We inspected the boats and checked for air conditioning in the bedrooms and an icebox to keep beer cold before agreeing on a price and crew of three.

Breakfast on the house boat 

So far so good, until our house boat set off from its moorings and promptly crashed into another houseboat, snapping off its stern.  None of our crew seemed particularly worried “It’s fine, we are all friends”, they explained, but we were left with a certain lack of confidence in the sailing ability of our captain.

The beautiful Kerala backwaters – between showers.  Those are the house boats moored by the side. 

We set sail again and almost instantaneously the rain came, monsoon style, and stayed for the rest of the two days.  No sunbathing for us, instead the crew hung tarpoulins from the sides of the boat to keep us dry as the wind whipped up sending the driving rain sideways into our dining area.  To top off the travel nightmare, I was not impressed to see a cockroach scuttling into our bathroom.

Eating banana leaf style on the house boat

On the assumption (which I am sticking with) that the cockroach stayed in the bathroom and did not venture into the kitchen area, the food on board the house boat was top notch.  We had our own chef who prepared traditional Keralan home style meals.  Breakfast was an sponge like idli with a spicy samba and lunch was a thali feast.

Vegetable curry

There was beetroot raita, fried fish with a thick, spicy rub and served up on freshly picked banana leaves.  The food was some of the fieriest we had eaten in India, the sort which leaves you with tears rolling down your cheeks and a streaming nose, which makes me think it was true home style cooking rather than tempered for Western tastes as seems to be the case in a lot of Indian restaurants.

Fried fish on the house boat

So we ate the fantastic food, drank our (unecessarily) chilled beer, tried not to think about the cockroach, played a lot of cards and finally as we moored the boat on our last day the sun came out.  Typical.

Details: Vaishak runs Green Berg Cruise, Alappuzha (Ph 09847506974)
Damage: Pricey.  The boat cost 11,000 a day for four people including meals, non alcoholic drinks, a canoe trip and air conditioning.

Our bedroom on the boat, complete with a towel swan

Gourmet Travel Tips

  • Kingfisher flies from London to Delhi for £500 return.  A flight with Indigo from Delhi to Cochin costs Rs 6,000 and takes just under three hours. 
  • We caught a cab from Cochin to Alleppey and it was about an hours journey.  
  • If you are looking for where to stay or what to do in Cochin I haver written a post all about it already.  


  1. One of those travel experiences that has memorable moments you might have rather missed?! But then, they are the sorts of things that make travel exciting. It looks like the food was wonderful, if nothing else 🙂

  2. It’s a shame the weather didn’t hold out for you, but I must say that food looks incredibly delicious! All of it looks fabulous. 🙂

  3. Awww.. shame about the weather, but the food looks amazing and yayy to swan towels!

  4. Kari – It wasn’t the perfect house boat trip as I had imagined it, but I still loved it.

    Sarah – Yes the food was a real highlight, some of the most authentic we had in India I think

    Ms IHua – So hilarious aren’t they?

  5. I almost did the houseboat in Kerala for New Years last year but opted for Sri Lanka instead, direct flights from London and all. Sri Lanka was good but had similar disappointing moments. This made me feel a little better about missing the Kerala boat experience and for that I definitely thank you!

  6. Kashmir houseboats are associated closely with the valley’s culture and traditions. A brilliant idea that started from constructing small boats was later revolutionized with transforming these boats into spacious modern styled floating hotels. houseboats are all made of the finest cedar wood that follows with intricate walnut wood carvings, paneled walls and tiled baths. Our boats are categorized in the super deluxe category and each boat has an assorted number of three to four bedrooms with a private bath and wash room.
    Kashmir Houseboats

  7. […] to do: Hire a house boat on the Kerala back waters.  Where to sleep: Malabar House or  Paradisa Plantation Retreat.   India, […]

  8. Texas on Thames – I travelled in Sri Lanka for my honeymoon and loved it. So I don’t think you missed out.

    Kashmir Houseboats – Thanks for the tip.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *