Goa is much more than its beaches and parties. State-of-the-art Airbnb homes like these give you a taste of the state’s essence and the feeling of being right at home. By Rashima Nagpal
Minutes from the popular beaches of Anjuna and Vagator, in the quaint village of Assagao, is one of the most beautiful Airbnb homes—Zoloft—soaked in a colourful, bohemian vibe. Outside the villa, there are manicured gardens, a swimming pool, a spacious verandah, and palm trees along the boundary wall. Painted in white, it looks like a colonial house with a modern twist—it has a thatched roof, traditional windows in grey, and a columned verandah among other things. The interiors of this four-bedroom villa are equally picturesque. Think colour-coded bedrooms, eccentric decor (like a fl oor-to-ceiling monochromatic canvas featuring owls), distressed but stylish furniture like yellow arm chairs and blue sofas, and rugs and tiles that flaunt various patterns. The two-storey house can accommodate up to nine guests. On the ground fl oor is the living room that comes with an entertainment system, a fully equipped retro-looking kitchen, and the master bedroom features a king-size bed. The first floor features a charming forest-facing terrace, two bedrooms, and one kids’ room with twin beds. All the bedrooms have baths en suite. While Goa is a delight for gourmands, you can fix up a meal with your friends or family in the comfort of your private villa when you don’t want to step outside. There is staff here to take care of your meals unless you prefer cooking yourself. After a long day of beach hopping, there’s nothing quite like a dip in the private pool, or a sundowner in the garden at twilight. Speak to the host Jeh well in advance, and he’ll help you rent a bike or car to explore the village. There is a less-known beach, Gudem, round the corner if you like your seashores secluded. Named after an antidepressant, Zoloft, this villa can wash your worries away.
Situatd in the little Goan hamlet of Moira in Bardez, Sintra is a private villa. A two-bedroom
house that comes with baths and balconies en suite, a spacious living room, a private pool,
a charming patio, and a garden, the property fits the bill for a pleasant family holiday. The compact yet airy design of the house is commendable. You can lounge in your living room while keeping an eye on the kids who can make the most of the villa’s swimming pool—the sliding doors of the living space open up to the pool area. While the living area and the kitchen occupy most of the ground floor, both the bedrooms are on the upper floor. The pristine white house is well complemented by its bright blue windows and the pink bougainvillea that spread around it, making it a picture postcard destination to spend the weekend at. The verandah at Zoloft is the perfect spot for a lazy afternoon. Distressed furniture pieces like this one add character to Sintra. Eccentric design pieces are a significant part of Zoloft’s boho vibe. Sintra’s interiors feature bright patterned upholstery. The fabled village of wise fools, Moira, has a sense of mystery to it. The perfect way to unravel it is to rent a bike and head out, preferably early in the morning. The neighbourhood church and the bank of River Mapusa are a five-minute walk away. Come back to your cocoon and rid yourself of the day’s fatigue with a siesta in the living room that features a
comfortable sofa-cum-bed. The house comes equipped with mod cons such as hair dryer, iron, and Wi-Fi connectivity, among other things. It’s true what they say, good things come in small packages.
BANYAN IS ONE OF two charming villas at Champakali—a nature inspired boutique property located in Old Goa. It sits on the same hill as the Chapel of Our Lady of the Mount, by the
Mandovi river, in Velha. With green mouldings on its roof, redoxide flooring, vaulted ceilings,
and long window panels in the bedrooms and the living rooms, Champakali resembles an old
Goan house. But it is not as old as you might think. A couple of years ago, Delhi-based former advertising executive Bindu Sethi chanced upon a piece of land with nothing but a magnificent banyan tree on it. Charmed by it, she and her husband, Bunti, decided to build a home around it. Hence, the name of the villa—Banyan. The luxury villa has three bedrooms named after the birds myna, mor, and bulbul, a serviced kitchen, a dining room, gazebos
in the lawns, a swimming pool, and lots of greenery. Each room has a personality of its own. The hosts have painstakingly workedon every detail. From the furniture that features hues of biscuit, thyme, and rose, to pristine white walls, and design pieces they’ve collected on their travels over the years, you can sense the effort in the warmth of this home—something you can’t expect from a hotel. The meals are prepared with local ingredients by the in-house
chef. Homemade muesli, fresh Goan breads, French crepes, and custom tea blends are some of their specialities. Don’t miss the two-hour birding tour led by an ornithologist at sunrise. At any given time during your stay, you can pick up the bicycle parked outside the villa and go for a Goan discovery away from the touristy beaches.
Named after the Jessamine flower that adorns the property’s garden, Kamini is a one-bedroom offering at The Inner Temple—a luxury wellness villa with a pool in Moira. Serenity is the theme of this property painted in white and blue. The ideal choice for a couple looking for some quiet time away from their hectic work schedules, Kamini offers a soothing ambience.
The said bedroom is on the ground floor of the villa and perpetually bathed in sunlight, thanks to two big windows including a bay window that makes for the perfect reading nook. Apart from the bedroom, you have access to all the common areas in the villa—Satvaam (the garden and pool area), Shambhala (the living room), and the library. While the verandah
and the turquoise pool with Portuguese-style sit out areas are great spots to soak up the sun, the living room—furnished with skylights and French windows—is the ‘energy centre’ of the villa. The villa often conducts yoga classes and workshops for the guests at Shambhala.
The property boasts a healthy variety of vegetarian as well as meat delicacies. From fresh fruits, organic cereals, and English breakfast platters to Goan staples like prawn curry, fried fish, and cafreal or xacuti—the kitchen offers an array of meals to satisfy every palate. Caretakers, available round the clock at the property, cater to every need of the guests.
Sandwiched between the popular regions of Anjuna, Arpora, and Mapusa, Assagao is tinier than a village. It has miraculously stayed off the tourism circuit despite being at the heart of it, and that’s what makes it special. Also known as the land of flowers, it boasts a handful of churches and is dotted with old mansions with distinct Portuguese heritage—most of which have evolved into art cafes or homestays. The Villa Goa, a charming Airbnb home in Assagao, is our base for the next two days as we explore the luxuries of a homestay with our cover girl Dia Mirza. As you walk through the gates of the spacious property, you’re instantly taken in by its charm—a 200-year-old Indo-Portuguese mansion sits proudly surrounded by chequered lawns, with a traditional Goan porch, large wooden windows, and clay-tiled roof.
The second structure on the property, at the back, is a more contemporary accommodation, Villa Jardim. The villa may be cosy, but it does not go easy on luxury. It features five elegant bedrooms—three traditional ones, flaunting Jaisalmer marble, in the single-storey mansion,
and two on the upper floor of Villa Jardim. Ideal for up to 10 guests, the property is best enjoyed when rented as a whole, but the two villas can be booked separately as well
on Airbnb. From basking in the sun in the central courtyard to enjoying a sundowner in the azure pool, there are ample spaces here to relax and cherish the Goan way of life.