Panjim and a stay at Amrut Villa
Hello all, first and foremost I hope everyone is okay, safe and in a headspace starting to come to terms with the new normal. I’m sat writing this post whilst we are going through maybe the most unusual crisis we have ever come across... but it is going to be okay, it's going to be stressful, scary at some points and downright sh*t at times. But it’s important to stick together, look after each other, stay calm and if you can, enjoy the pause the world is about to take… this may never happen again.
I thought long and hard about posting the next few journal posts, it's colourful, happy and for the most part, the pictures are drenched in sunshine. It feels a little indulgent to put it out there when a lot of the world is in crisis at the moment but whether it be my Instagram or website, the aim is to inspire and spark a little joy and through this difficult time that’s exactly what I want to do. If there is a topic you're wanting to read whether it be food, shopping guides or must-see sights out here in India, let me know and ill try and get some inspiring content here on the blog for you to flick through when you most probably have a little more time on your hands than usual…
Stay safe, be cautious and enjoy the Journal! F
Panaji and a stay at Amrut villa…
After being a beach-bum for some time it was time to get the adventure really started, and although I have taken numerous trips to Goa there was one place I had never seen, Panjim - the capital of the state that is steeped in history from when the Portuguese colonized the state and reigned for over 450 years. The city oozes charm and atmosphere. The Fonthainas neighbourhood, dating back to colonial times, has retained its character over the years with its whitewashed churches and colourful heritage homes and i was excited to check it out.
Above: Panjim Fonthainas in all their saturated colour glory!
The Goan city sits in stark contrast to others found in the rest of the country. This was the first city in India built on a grid, with pavements constructed along all of its main roads. Shade trees were imported from South America including Gulmohar and Acacia trees, engineering blueprints for drainage and sewerage from Germany, and concepts for park gazebos and bandstands from England. It’s a real mix and a true feast for the eyes, me and fellow flashpacker Binny said it almost felt you’d been transported to South America, its vibe feels Latin through and through.
Above: Wall murals and a stroll on the streets found the most glorious corners, details of glazed painted tiles fill recesses beneath windows.
We stopped by Confeitaria 31 De Janeiro, a quaint family-run café with only three tables outside on the street. They sell sweet and savoury pastries and a range of snacks – The most incredible coffee frap was downed in minutes and the mother/daughter team was utterly charming to watch.
The Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church is a site to definitely check out. The crisp white painted façade contrasts with the blue cloudless sky behind and sits on the hillside overlooking the city of Panjim. The Church conducts mass every day in English Konkani (Goan dialect), and Portuguese.
Above: Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church, Panjim and an Aloe window box.
A stay at Amrut Villa…
I was super lucky to stay at this magnificent property as a gifted stay. Amrut villa is one of only six ‘Air BnB Plus” properties in the whole of India. I did a little research of the property and was excited to see the building in the flesh… the shots of the guest rooms boasting a colour palette of turquoise and white mixed with red brick walls that looked seamlessly linked between indoor and outdoor areas were intriguing.
On arrival, a pampered pooch greeted us with a high pitched bark, not on guard, but more with a welcoming “come see my gaff” sort of tone… behind the gate emerged a young attractive lady and handsome bearded chap, I'd call them the dog's owners, but I think its more appropriate to say the dog's humans… it was quite apparent from the off who was in charge.
Following her lead, we entered through a tall set of tall front doors to the lobby of the building or should I say gallery, and everything started to fall into place.
Above: Abundant greenery behind the gates lead to the tall double-doored entryway to Amrut Villa. Cherry the resident pampered pooch that you cant help adore.
Amrut villa is an artists retreat. Headed up by owner Nitin his wife and their daughter Simi. The concept is a boutique stay in lush tropical surroundings that promotes creativity in a superbly designed property, giving luxury, peace and tranquillity to really get the artistic juices flowing. Gallery 19 is on the ground floor and showcases a collection of artwork from Nitin as well as varied artists some of which have been residents on a retreat here staying for weeks at a time surrounded in the creative space. Nitin often collaborates with an artist on pieces and one of my favourites is the butterfly coconut pictured below…
The Boutique property houses four perfectly appointed guestrooms, extremely well designed and thoughtfully curated that host a collection of works from bespoke hand-painted headboards to quirky birds painted on embroidery hoop canvases. Everywhere you turn there is something else to look at whilst having all the mod cons at your fingertips.
Above: One of the guest rooms, all similar in size and style but all bespoke in artwork.
The hospitality of this stay was the real stand out. Night one we had dinner on the roof terrace (where yoga takes place every morning) local Goan cuisine cooked by the in-house chef was a pure delight. Nitin and his daughter were on hand the whole stay from breakfast to chats in the studio where the essence of Amrut Villa really comes alive! We had some great conversations from artwork through to design in interiors and even touched on Interior Design Masters but what was truly special was hearing the ins and outs of the process of this extraordinary building from design through to build.
Above: Nitin in his studio and handwritten note.. it's all in the details.
Nitin a trained interior architect built the property over seven years and every detail is considered and thought through. The one thing that was so striking was the fluidity between indoor and outdoor spaces and the private guest rooms were a prime example. Dual aspect balconies on both sides of each room give different light at different parts of the day. One area is very much set up for cooking and eating whilst the other is for lounging and enjoying the warm light the evening brings. I was really taken by how the space worked, a welcoming tranquil stay in the most luxurious setting.
Above: both balconies on either side of the room, a prime example of how the property flows from inside to out.
Check out my story highlight on Instagram to see a full video tour.