Best hotels and hostels in Tamil Nadu

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Puducherry (Pondicherry)

    Villa Shanti

    Occupying a 100-year-old building revamped by two French architects, Villa Shanti puts an exquisitely contemporary twist on the French Quarter heritage hotel. Beautiful modern rooms combine superchic design with typically Tamil materials and colonial-style elegance: four-poster beds, Chettinadu tiles, walk-through bathrooms, Tamil-language murals. The sunken courtyard houses a hugely popular restaurant and bar. The owners are also behind uberchic top-end La Villa.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Chennai (Madras)

    ITC Grand Chola

    Chennai's most talked-about hotel is this ultraluxurious, 600-room, temple-inspired beauty in the city's southwest. A maze of sumptuous iPad-operated rooms, complete with soaking tubs and French press coffee kits, unfolds beyond the sweeping lantern-lit marble lobby. One corridor caters exclusively to women travellers. Also here are seven swish restaurants, two glitzy bars, three gyms, a spa and five pools. The hotel runs mostly on wind and solar power, and incorporates sustainable materials.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Puducherry (Pondicherry)

    La Villa

    Queen of local boutique hotels is this intimate, six-room 19th-century beauty, sleekly updated by one of Pondy's top French-architect teams. From curved wooden bedheads to cocoonlike swing-chairs and abstract artwork, rooms blend white-on-white luxury with bold, contemporary design. It's impeccably styled, there's an upmarket patio restaurant, and you can breakfast overlooking the turquoise rooftop pool.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Puducherry (Pondicherry)

    Les Hibiscus

    Mango-yellow Les Hibiscus has just a handful of fabulous high-ceilinged rooms with antique beds, coffee makers and a mix of quaint Indian art and old Pondy photos, at astoundingly reasonable prices. (The top-floor single room is a great deal.) The whole place is immaculately styled, fresh breakfasts are fantastic and management is genuinely friendly and helpful. Book well ahead.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Thanjavur (Tanjore)

    Svatma

    This gorgeous boutique-heritage hotel has an elegant, uncluttered look inspired by and incorporating traditional local arts and crafts. Of the 38 rooms, those in the revamped heritage wing have the most character. Enjoy the dance shows, cooking classes, bronze-casting demonstrations – plus a spa and heavenly pool. It's 1.5km southeast of central Thanjavur.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Chennai (Madras)

    Raintree

    At this ‘eco-sensitive’ business-style hotel, floors are bamboo or rubber, water and electricity conservation hold pride of place, and AC-generated heat warms the bathroom water. Sleek, fresh, minimalist rooms are bright, comfy and stylish, with wonderful city vistas. A sea-view infinity pool (doubling as insulation) and an open-air bar-restaurant grace the rooftop. Downstairs is excellent pan-Asian restaurant Chap Chay. Big discounts are available when booking through the website.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Kodaikanal (Kodai)

    Carlton

    The cream of Kodai’s hotels is a magnificent five-star colonial-era mansion overlooking the lake. Rooms are spacious with extra-comfy beds and, for some, huge private balconies. The grounds and common areas get the old hill-station ambience spot on: open-stone walls, billiards, evening bingo, fireplaces, a hot tub and a bar that immediately makes you want to demand a Scotch. The good, buffet-focused restaurant is Kodai's classiest.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in The Western Ghats

    Sinna Dorai's Bungalow

    Exquisitely located on a rambling tea estate, Sinna Dorai has just six huge rooms bursting with local early-20th-century history. A cosy library, wonderful homemade meals and charming service make you feel right at home. After-dark wildlife-spotting drives (you may see elephants, bison, lion-tailed macaques and leopards) run regularly, and experienced trekkers lead you out along local paths. It's well signposted from central Valparai, 65km south of Pollachi.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in The Western Ghats

    La Maison

    Flower-draped, French-owned La Maison is a beautifully renovated 1890s Scottish bungalow superbly situated on a hilltop surrounded by tea plantations, 5km southwest of Kotagiri. Casual yet stylish, here you'll find antique furniture, tribal handicrafts, old-Ooty paintings and two friendly dogs. Hike to waterfalls, visit tribal villages, savour home-cooked meals (₹900) or laze in the valley-facing hot tub. A special place!

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Madurai

    Heritage Madurai

    This leafy haven, 4km northwest of central Madurai, originally housed the old Madurai Club. It's been impeccably tarted up, with intricate Kerala-style woodwork, a sultry sunken pool and airy, terracotta-floored 'deluxe' rooms. Best are the 'villas' featuring private plunge pools. There's a good upscale North and South Indian restaurant, along with a spa, bar and 24-hour cafe.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Chennai (Madras)

    Ikhaya

    A new iteration of a favourite old B&B, Ikhaya brilliantly brings together the best of heritage ambience and contemporary amenities. Rooms have carved wooden beds, throw rugs and modern bathrooms; some have balconies. The indoor dining area is a charming turquoise-and-white space, and there's an inner courtyard with tables, all part of the everything-made-from-scratch Mediterranean restaurant.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in The Western Ghats

    Jungle Hut

    Along with ecofriendly touches (solar power, rainwater harvesting), Jungle Hut has probably the best food in Bokkapuram (if you’re visiting from another resort after dark, don’t walk home alone!). Spacious, newly renovated rooms and luxury tents sprawl across large grounds at the foot of the soaring Nilgiris, where chital deer graze. Jeep safaris, treks and birdwatching can be arranged.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in The Western Ghats

    Jungle Retreat

    Arguably Mudumalai's most stylish resort, with accommodation in lovingly built stone cottages, two tree houses and a dorm (minimum four people), all spread out for maximum seclusion. The bar, lounge and restaurant (three daily meals ₹2000) are great for meeting travellers, and staff are knowledgable. The pool has a stunning setting – leopards and elephants often pop in for a drink.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Chennai (Madras)

    Footprint B&B

    A beautifully comfortable, relaxed base on a quiet street in a leafy south Chennai neighbourhood. Three immaculate private rooms with king-size or wide twin beds share a thoughtfully arranged common area decorated with bowls of wild roses and old-Madras photos. Home-cooked breakfasts are generous, service is excellent, and the welcoming owners are full of Tamil Nadu tips. Book ahead.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Kodaikanal (Kodai)

    Kodai Heaven

    This multilevel hillside guesthouse will blow your mind with jaw-dropping views that are far better than those offered by any hotels in Kodaikanal proper. Rooms are fun – some with wild murals inside and out, others more subdued but still unique. Most front on to terraces where you can sit and gaze to your heart's content. Discounts are often available.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Coonoor

    180° McIver

    A classic 1900s British bungalow at the top of town has been transformed into something special. The six handsome, airy rooms sport antique furniture, working fireplaces and big fresh bathrooms. Panoramas from the wraparound lawn (where you can dine) of the on-site restaurant La Belle Vie are fabulous.

  • Lodging in Trichy (Tiruchirappalli)

    Tranquility

    This charming rustic-chic guesthouse sits in a gloriously rural setting 6km west of Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple. Elegant, unfussy rooms are sprinkled with terracotta-horse statuettes, sparkly cushions, recycled wood-carved doors and custom-made furniture. Terrace swing-chairs overlook a sea of palms. Rates include bicycles and transfers. The knowledgable owners also offer a thatched-roof homestay room just southwest of the temple's outermost wall. Homecooked meals with local villagers can be arranged (₹300).

  • Lodging in Puducherry (Pondicherry)

    Maison Perumal

    Secluded rooms with colourful flourishes, antique beds and photos of the original owners surround two pillared patios at this renovated 130-year-old home, pocketed away in Pondy's less touristic Tamil Quarter. The excellent Tamil/French restaurant cooks everything from market-fresh ingredients and gives culinary demonstrations. Heritage walking tours are offered and guests can use the pool at sister property Palais de Mahé. From May to September rates drop by 50%.

  • Lodging in Chennai (Madras)

    Taj Coromandel

    Luxurious without being overly ostentatious, the glittering Coromandel offers a sensibly central top-end retreat from the city. Rooms flaunt a smart stripped-back style – with surround-sound speakers – and there's a lovely palm-shaded pool. The marble-effect lobby hosts fine-dining South Indian restaurant Southern Spice, along with a busy cocktail bar. The upmarket Taj Group runs four other hotels in and around Chennai.

  • Lodging in Kodaikanal (Kodai)

    Elephant Valley

    Deep in the valley 22km northeast of Kodaikanal, off the Kodaikanal–Palani Rd, this ecofriendly French-run retreat sprawls across 48 hectares of mountain jungle and organic farm. Elephants, peacocks and bison wander through, and comfy local-material cottages, including a tree house, sit either side of a river. The French-Indian restaurant does wonderful meals packed with garden-fresh veg, and home-grown coffee. Wildlife spotting peaks April to July.