Have you ever wondered if a few days of luxury could justify the seemingly huge expense?

 Kumarakom Lake By Dacoit Chief

We did, and 16 months ago we decided to give it a try at the Vivanta by Taj hotel in Kumarakom, southern Kerala, it was worth it, but a few things really annoyed me, and I decided my overall frustration would cloud my view and not provide a useful thread for those considering trying a luxury hotel, I’ll go into those frustrations throughout this thread, but we’d sampled heaven and had to try again.

You may be a little shocked at some things you read in this review, and a little surprised at my conclusions, and I make no apologies for going into a lot of detail, this thread is as much about making savings in ANY luxury hotel, as it is about the hotel review, and it’s also to help people decide if this kind of expense is good value for money, and to offer a few tips on saving money on the rest of your trip to free up a little of your hard earned cash.

A quick description of us, I started my India trips about 12 years ago in mid range hotels (all less than Rs2500), but quickly dropped to budget level for longer trips, have now had 15+ trips to most areas of India, almost all low budget, my Mrs. had never left England till 16 months ago, and hasn't experienced budget travel, though she’s comfortable in Rs2000 rooms, we’re both in our mid 40’s and work long hours at low wages to earn out holiday time, and it can take months for us to save the money to pay for an expensive hotel, however, we don’t have experience of luxury hotels, and that may show in some of the things said below.

We decided to try the Vivanta by Taj, hotel in Bekal, northern Kerala, we booked for 4 nights in the 2nd week of February 2013.

Always book for 3+ nights when booking a Taj Hotel, and go for the ‘extended stay’ option, this way you save 15% on room rate, get free breakfast, save 20% on all food and non-alcohol drinks, and get a free room upgrade when available (midweek and out of peak season would likely get a free upgrade), reason number 1 for my frustration with the Kumarakom hotel was, I initially booked 2 nights in a mid-range room, then later decided to upgrade to their best room and add another night, I wasn't aware of the discounts available for booking 3 nights, and they didn't tell me, and charged full prices for everything, I only realised when I researched the rates for the review I started about the place.

We took the overnight Netravati Express from Goa and after changing to a local train we arrived at Kotikulam, only 2km from the Taj hotel, there’s rickshaws (auto) to take you to the Taj hotel, but you may need to ask for the Vivanta hotel, as that’s the name on the signs, it’s a smooth ride to the hotel, you can also get auto’s or taxis from Kasaragod (12km), or at a push, from Mangalore (60km), though almost all trains starting from Mangalore (Central) run with space to Kararagod/Kotikulam, Mangalore airport is a further 25 or so km from the Taj, the road from Mangalore/Kasaragod to the Taj is mostly OK, but has a few really poor stretches, and those can be really bumpy.

We arrived at about 08:30 at the Taj, and explained that we understand we’re very early, and are happy to walk around for a few hours (this hotel has lovely places to sit, great bathrooms near the reception, and are happy for you to use the restaurant for drinks/breakfast before you book in, they’re also happy for you to walk around the hotel grounds), the staff were very welcoming and friendly, I already knew there wouldn't be a free upgrade, we were staying over the weekend, and I’d done an availability check the night before, and there were only lower valued rooms available, I was a little concerned when a manager offered us a different room at Rs4000 extra, and pushed the point about free upgrades, but I had just misunderstood the lady, she meant that we could go to the same value room, but we’d have to pay a Rs4000 early arrival fee, by now it was about 09:00, and we declined the early arrival fee and went for a coffee and a walk around the grounds.

First thing we notices was a dog wearing a nappy, I’m not joking, the dog must have been used to it, because it wasn't trying to remove the nappy, a member of staff said it was the dog’s ‘time of the month’, we never saw the dog again or heard any dogs barking.

(sorry, most photos didn't come out well, especially indoor photos)

The Taj’s setting is perfect, set back from the beach and set mainly along the backwaters, very calm and peaceful, the rooms look like they’re part of a Kettuvallom (the boats that tour the backwaters), you know straight away that you’re going to enjoy staying here.

Just after 10am we were shown to our room, and wow, what a room.

We’d paid Rs25,000 a night at the Taj in Kumarakom, and this room was only Rs15,000 a night, so we expected less, and overall it was less, the rooms were smaller, the private pool was narrower, and the overall space was less, but we were left wondering why we needed all those things any bigger than we had here, the room was perfect in every way, the bathroom was awesome, the bed was large and extremely comfortable, 4 great quality pillows, 2 soft and 2 firmer, ask and they’ll change any for you, the indoor and outdoor showers perfect, the outdoor bathtub was awesome, and the overall quality of everything was very high, if I won the lottery I still couldn't see the point of spending more on a room, the hotel is relatively new, and it showed, the room was overall quite clean, though I guess there’s a rota for spring cleaning the rooms and this room was perhaps due for that extra clean, the high glass (10 feet) needed doing, and there were a few cobwebs in the very high areas (12-15 feet high), but really nothing that you’d want to call the manager about, the main mirror in the bathroom had a large crack, but a step to the left got rid of that problem, and with the cost of that mirror, you’d need to be a bit of a moaner if you complained about it, do have a good look through all the cupboards and drawers, there’s a lot of useful things there that you perhaps wouldn't expect, a hair dryer for one.

We stayed in the room most of the day, and I’m pleased to report that everything worked as it should, an awesome picture/signal on the 37inch TV, and all channels easy to find, English language Indian news channels, BBC World, Nat. Geographic, plenty of movie channels and all the sports channels to watch English and European football, not that we watched a lot, but I struggled to find half those channels at the Taj Kumarakom, and also, a first in India, every time we changed channel, the volume remained the same, meaning I could flick through the channels when my Mrs was sleeping without her waking up thinking the room was being robbed by a load of Bollywood bandits, now that’s what I call luxury in India.;)

Have a play around with all the light switches during the day, there’s lights that come on under the bed/bedside cabinets, they’re great to leave on at night so you can see where you’re going if you wake up early, and try to turn the air con down a bit, it can get too cold in the night if left on high, we couldn't work it out at first and ended up switching it off and putting the (silent) fan on instead.

The outside courtyard and day (swing) bed are awesome, and the pool is just lovely.

But if your kind of holiday is to run and jump in the pool or push your children/partner into the pool, then this isn't the hotel for you (more later), our own private pool could actually be very dangerous for kids, first, it’s 4.9 feet deep the whole length of the pool, I’m 5’11, so loved it, but my Mrs. Is a little shorter and had to stand on her toes, but she still loved the pool, but more worrying if you have kids, the stone steps into the pool are wonderful for getting in, long, wide on not slippery, but they come to a point at every corner, and some corners are 2’5 feet from the edge of the pool and underwater, I dread to think what could happen if a child took a run and jump into the pool.

But that being said, for 2 adults on a relaxing break, the pool is perfect and easily worth the extra money for some private time in and beside the pool, we chose the ‘Deluxe delight room with plunge pool’ as the pool has total privacy, meaning we could walk around naked all day if we chose to do so (find the privacy switch behind the curtain to make sure you’re not disturbed), I read some reviews that said the ‘Premium indulgence room with plunge pool’ had the pool with open views of the backwaters, but this meant that people could walk by and see the pool, perhaps from a distance, the Taj group seem to value privacy, but all the same, we wanted total privacy, but I can definitely see the attraction of having a view of the backwaters when using your private pool, so if total privacy isn't so important, the Premium indulgence room should be considered, it’s only a fraction more expensive.

There’s also some wonderful statues and awesome trees, plants and flowers making the rooms/courtyard extra special, you get a free newspaper every day as well.

We unpacked our bags, and if your budget is slightly limited, this is where the fun begins, first out of the bags were 2 bottles of India’s finest white rum, Rs140 a bottle in Goa, maybe Rs200 in Kerala (higher alcohol duty), then 2 large bottles of coke/pepsi, about 10 large bags of crisps (Lays crisps are great, though they have a packaged date, not a use by/best before date), a large bag of raw or roasted/salted cashew nuts, and any other snacks you can think of, a jar of instant coffee (brought from home if you can, it’s not cheap in India and not great either), they do supply tea/coffee milk & sugar at the Taj, but the coffee is awful, and we prefer to get them to replace everything with more tea bags and sugar, outside the Taj there’s a shack that sells cartons of ‘long life’ milk, the cost is tiny, the taste is OK, and I had a carton open for more than 2 days and it was still fresh, the plastic packets of milk (not toned milk) are better, but I couldn't find anywhere close to the Taj, and was happy with the cartons. Finally, some sachets of soap powder for washing our clothes (should only need to do this once on a 3-4 day stay, do bear in mind the clothes you arrive and depart in)

You may wonder why all the drinks/snacks, first, the alcohol, if you are on a budget, the alcohol prices will kill the budget, I didn't photograph the price list, but it’s at least Rs400 for a shot (then add mixers) or a beer (buy them locally for Rs90 and put them in your fridge), then you have to add the tax, at least 20%.

Who wants to wash clothes on holiday?, well, the Taj charge Rs150 to wash a pair of jeans, oh, and an extra Rs100 to iron them, oh, then add the tax, so, Rs300 for 1 piece, then add 4 days clothing for 2 people, you could almost buy the clothes for that price, so you have 2 choices, walk to town (more later) and get a local woman to wash them (a bin liner full washed & ironed for about Rs200), and this woman will appreciate the money, or half fill the bathtub with water, add the soap powder, throw in all your clothes, stir every 30 minutes, after 2 hours empty the bath, then rinse clothes a couple of times, take coat hangers from wardrobe, hang clothes on tree in courtyard, when dry, decide they don’t need ironing after all, job done with minimum effort - (there’s an Iron & board in the room)

A couple of tips, you’ll find a card asking you to press the ‘ASK’ button on the phone to request some complementary fruit, you can do this every day, also request extra drinking water.

Lock the door between the indoor and outdoor showers, I don’t know if it’s the same for all rooms, but we couldn't double lock our outside gate when we went out, and a simple credit card could easily open it, the door by the shower is one you’d leave open without realising it, however, I don’t think security is an issue at all in the hotel, and there’s a safe in each room large enough to take a laptop.

OK, time to eat, one of my frustrations about the Taj Kumarakom was the quality of the food, I’d read so many wonderful reviews about their food, and part of the reason we decided to splash out was for the wonderful food, but I wasn't too impressed, and I believe the total experience has to include good food, especially at the prices charged by the Taj. I’m prepared to accept that my expectations may have been too high, and didn't make the same mistake this time.

I needn't have worried, every single meal was great, very varied, and they weren't afraid to add the spices/chilies (I felt the Taj at Kumarakom were), though they’ll go easy on the chilies if you ask, I do have some criticisms, but I feel it’s only fair to first explain that we thoroughly enjoyed every meal, and that this contributed massively to our overall experience, and you’ll wonder why I said that when you read on, I have to also say that the service from the restaurant staff was always first class (though they do try to promote fish dishes a little too much), both in the restaurant and room service. (maybe a third of our meals were in our room/courtyard)

There’s a group of dishes in the menu (at the start, after soups and before deserts), that are better value, slightly cheaper, and come with everything you need, we found these great for lunches, when needed, but carry on through the menu for more dishes.

One slight criticism of the menu, in the restaurant they decided each menu page should have a different color, this really doesn't work under low light, and is out of character for the Taj who seem to have a wonderful attention to detail throughout their hotels, oh, one more really frustrating thing about the restaurant, the first bit of music we heard in the restaurant was “Head, shoulders, knees & toes, knees & toes”, a great song for Butlins type holiday camps, but completely wrong for a relaxed Indian location, and whilst this song was the extreme of what we heard, it was always western pop music, and it just doesn't fit with fantastic water features, awesome statues and palm trees, what next?, punk rock in the spa?

2 issues with the food, first, tiny bones in both meat and fish dishes, I always feel like a spoilt child when I get frustrated by this in budget restaurants, but the prices charged by the Taj should mean no tiny bones in chopped meat dishes, and to have bones in a Syrian fish biryani is not acceptable, there should be a warning, I’d still try it, but wouldn't be eating great chunks at a time not expecting bones, a pity, it was so tasty.

The other issue is a lot more serious, my Mrs almost certainly got food poisoning from a meal at the restaurant, it was a roast chicken dish, she was loving the food, but found the chicken was red in the middle (after eating most of it), my Mrs will curse me for saying this, but it wasn't the worst kind of food poisoning, it was the kind that has you up & down to the toilet every 5 minutes and accidents if you don’t get there in time, this happened 3 days into our stay, and she hadn't left the hotel, and the time in question, she hadn't been drinking alcohol or eating the snacks, the first night didn't seem so bad, and she felt OK to eat again, but the rest of the day, and all of that night were pretty bad for her, I know one of the basic food safety rules is to not eat something the person isn't used to cooking, but this is the Taj group, we expected better, I spoke to one of the assistant managers (manager wasn't in that day) about it, he seemed concerned, and said he’d look into the food aspect (I had politely said that the chef perhaps wasn't fully aware of how to cook a traditionally foreign dish), and the assistant manager also said he’d call a doctor (as we had an 18 hour train journey ahead of us), the doctor and assistant manager arrived at our room, and after just asking a few questions the doctor decided my Mrs had Gastroenteritis, extremely unlikely, and what doctor gives 5 different types of tablets for Gastroenteritis (I have the names of the tablets), the staff kept asking if she was OK, but it was time for us to leave, I ordered a hotel taxi to take us to Kasaragod, and we left, not really satisfied at the hotel’s response, but what can you do?

Back to the positives, breakfast was awesome, such a massive choice including various juices, fresh fruits, cereals, and such a choice of Indian breakfasts, I had read many reviews about limited choices at breakfast and can only imagine those people decided against eating many of the options and therefore limited their options, breakfast was a real treat, most mornings I had 3 different platefuls of various things, and this often got me through to the evening meal, on other days we followed breakfast with a late lunch at about 14:00, then just had a few drinks and snacks in the evening, I think there was only 1 day when we had both lunch and dinner, and this is important when on a budget, the breakfast was free, but at no time did we feel that we were trying to save money by not eating, that wouldn't have been a holiday (we spent a lot less than we'd budgeted for), but with a big breakfast, 1 other meal always seemed enough, and we’re big eaters, it’s also worth remembering that we naturally eat a little less because of the heat.

The breakfast had been my biggest worry before arriving, it was so disappointing at the Taj Kumarakom, remember, we weren't told that we should have been having a free buffet breakfast, so we were paying for each item individually (with no 20% discount), and they were charging upwards of Rs200 for each item (then add 20% taxes), so when I ordered Aloo Paratha I had expected 2, but only got 1, possibly the worst VFM I've ever experienced in India, and the worst thing was, it wasn't even a good paratha , as none of the breakfast items were, it was so poor that I was going outside to a local shack for a delicious breakfast for a fraction of the price.

OK, that’s the room and food, now the rest.

The Spa was wonderful, very relaxed and friendly, I was almost tempted to try it out myself, but it’s just not me, the staff were happy to show us around and explain everything, my Mrs. Had her hair permanently straightened, and cut & styled, this required her to go back 2 days later for the work to be completed, she was also going to have their ‘signature facial’, a 3 hour job that involved a lot more than a facial, but this was to take place on the day we were departing (we’d deliberately chose this day to pass time before our late train departure), but she didn't feel well enough to sit there for 5+ hours and eventually just got her hair finished off.

The spa prices are huge, then taxes need to be added, but even on a low budget, I think it’s worth the money as it all adds to the overall experience, a shave is a mere Rs800 (or was it 600, can’t remember), but I walked up to town and had a fantastic shave for Rs40.

I walked up to town (Kotikulam) when my Mrs was having her first treatment on her hair, it’s a lovely walk, about 1 mile in total, but best done before 10:00 due to the heat, the road must have been built by the Taj and Lalit hotels, and it’s far better than most roads, on the way to town you pass a couple of mosques, and some awesome houses, real expensive places, and there’s a lot of friendly people, the area before town is mostly Muslim, so ladies are best to cover their shoulders, the town looks a little dirty when compared to the Taj hotel, I suppose anywhere would, but it’s a lovely little town full of friendly people and everything you’ll ever need, including banks, ATMs, a really colorful temple, liquor stores, toddy shops, general stores, Internet café, handicraft stores, restaurants, chai sellers, all very friendly people, there was even an exhibition opening as I passed (I thought it was a car-boot sale) and because I was foreign, I was asked to go to the front as they cut the ribbon, I would recommend a walk to town.

The beach next to the hotel was nice, it was clean and had a lovely breeze, but the sea was a little too rough to swim in, and there looked to be a massive pull to the south in the water, I’m usually happy to swim anywhere, but it looked too dangerous for me, there’s a few sun loungers on the beach, and a staff member who’ll call you a buggy to get you back to the centre of the hotel, there’s a restaurant near the beach serving mainly fish dishes, but we didn't try it.

The main swimming pool is nice, there’s sun loungers next to it with fresh towels on each one, it was however a little scary to have a staff member run up and make you sign a ‘No responsibility declaration’ before allowing you in the pool, it had me checking the pool for sharks [shock], there’s some old, but interesting magazines to read, and plenty of free sun cream, there’s a kind of shack selling simple food, pizza etc., but we were so happy with the restaurant food that we didn't try any of the poolside food (most of our swim time was also in our own pool), the main pool wasn't as deep as our private pool, it also felt slightly warmer, though our own pool was warm enough, and even though it was a weekend, we never saw more than 5 or 6 people around the main pool, and there were many times when there was no guests in the pool.

The Gym was well equipped, and had a lovely view, though make sure you sign the ‘no responsibility declaration’. (I guess we missed signing the declaration before eating in the restaurant ;))

There always seemed to be plenty of bicycles available (including a bicycle for 2), you can take these to get around, though I don’t know if you can use them to go to town, if you can, it would just be a 5-minute cycle on a smooth, quiet road.

The river/backwater area is really nice, you can hire kayaks (free) and play chess or archery (free) or simply laze in the double hammocks, you can also have a play in the giant inflatable ball, you get inside, the ball’s pumped full of air, and you’re pushed out onto the river, you then have to try to run, it’s great fun, but gets hot quickly, I found it easier to first stand up (legs spread, try to touch the top of the ball), then try to jog, most people seem to try to run from sitting down, without any success, there is a small charge for this activity, just show your room key and it’s added to your final bill, it is good fun though.

Here’s a few things I noted that don’t seem to fit anywhere, call them the amateur side of the hotel.

There’s a booklet in one of the drawers telling you to ask the travel desk for a detailed map of the area, so being a lover of maps, I asked, I was shown a small map of Kerala, and shown where the hotel was on the map, OK, I know there’s no great maps of the Kasaragod district available, so why do they say that in the booklet, it makes the staff look silly.

They also say you can ask the reception for DVD’s to watch on the DVD player in your room, so I went to the desk and was shown 3 scraps of paper listing maybe 25-28 DVDs, maybe a third were Bollywood, the rest were Hollywood movies, all many years old, over a couple of days I requested about 5 DVDs, 2 couldn't be found, 1 was too scratched to play and 1 had a crack going right through it, it’s embarrassing for the staff, they should either invest in many new DVDs or scrap the idea, this is the Taj group, not some backstreet kid trying to impress with his limited collection.

Have you ever been in a situation where you just don’t know what to say, we went to the restaurant and asked for a coconut juice from their menu, and as we gazed at the thousands of palm trees we were told they don’t have any coconuts……………, what can you say?, OK, to be fair, the menu said ‘Tendersweet coconut juice’, and those are different coconuts, but good staff should be able to say “we’re out of those particular coconuts, would you like to try a different coconut?”

Then there’s the Internet charges, if you want Wi-Fi in your room for a day, it’s Rs750, if you use their Internet café (behind reception) it’s about Rs200 for 30 minutes, then add the taxes, I’m not used to luxury hotels so don’t know if they all do the same, and I do understand that these companies invest HUGE sums of money into these hotels and want a good return for their money, but why do they have to charge so much for everything, it lets you know that this is a profit based company, and that blows in the face of all the hard work put in by the staff to make you feel at home and make you feel special.

Local attractions

Bekal Fort is reasonable close by, and the hotel has a video showing some good temples not far from the hotel (well, you’ll still need a taxi), and if you’re interested in the local Theyyam dancing, and are in the area at the right time, this article on Malabar, Theyyam dancing and much more has loads of very detailed information, well worth a read.

The following is just from research and things that other travelers have mentioned.

  • The northern backwater (as mentioned in the above article), there’s a jetty very close to Payyanur railway station (45km south of Taj Bekal), government ferries depart every 90 minutes and go to Ayitti Jetty (36km from Taj Bekal), the ferries travel through very scenic backwaters.
  • The overnight Netravati Express arrives (from Goa) at Payyanur station at 06:32, also, the Malabar Express and Maveli Express both travel overnight from southern Kerala and get to Payyanur early in the morning. It may be worth a look before heading to the Taj hotel.
  • If you want a look after departing the Taj hotel, the overnight Netravati Express departs Payyanur at 21:17 and gets to Goa at 05:00, the overnight Malabar Express departs Payyanur at 20:27 towards southern Kerala.
  • 30km south east of Payyanur is the Sri Muthappan Temple at Parassinikkadavu, this temple is said to be one of the very few remaining that has Theyyam dancers in the old traditional way (instead of being set up for tourists), but they dance early in the morning, try to find out more info before going.
  • You’ll find Payyanur, Ayitti and Sri Muthappan Temple, Parassinikkadavu on google maps, and search for ‘Bekal Resorts, Bekal, Kerala’ to find the exact location of the Taj Bekal hotel.

Use the www.erail.in to find trains.

Overall Opinion

Despite all my minor moans, and one serious issue, we absolutely loved the place and would happily recommend a stay to our friends and family.

The rooms make you feel special, the staff makes you feel special, and the location is gorgeous, the food is fantastic, sitting in your own courtyard, feeling the heat, sliding in and out of the pool, and just loving life, then go for a walk around the hotel grounds and you feel completely at ease with life, they say money can’t buy happiness, but it can for a while.

I’d say the hotel is great value for money, and definitely worth splashing out on, even if you normally stay in lower budget places, it’s a taste of luxury, and will have you feeling like your living in a postcard, your only regret will be the next time you plan a holiday, you’ll feel you have to budget for a similar experience.

So what mark out of 10, well, we would happily give 9 out of 10, and the one point drop isn't all about the possible food poisoning, it’s more about the awful mood ruining music in the restaurant, the unacceptable tiny bones in the food, and the amateurish things described above, but even those couldn't spoil a wonderful stay in a top class hotel, we’d both love to go back soon.

I really do hope that the talk of food poisoning hasn't put people off visiting this wonderful hotel, although we’re sure it was the food, there is a tiny chance that it wasn't, and I feel sure the hotel would have reviewed their storage and cooking practices after the incident, and that this kind of thing is unlikely to happen again, I've read all reviews from 4 different Taj hotels over the last 18 months, and just read up to date reviews about the Taj at Bekal, and not a single review talked about food hygiene problems.

If we had the time and the money we’d be back there now and eating all our meals from the restaurant, though I think we’d give the roast chicken a miss.

An alternative to Taj Bekal that we seriously considered was the Beach Villas and Cottages in Marari Beach, South Kerala, it was a really tough decision, so you may want to take a look for yourself.

Costs

So, the total cost of Taj Bekal including spending: 

  • 4 nights at 15,000 total = 61,000
  • Total spending including all meals was 18,000 (that included 8700 for the hair treatment)

So, call that 80,000 or Rs20,000 per night total for a couple.

Now, use an overnight train to get to the Taj hotel, then another overnight train to get away and look what happens ...

  • 3 nights at 20,000 = 60,000
  • + 1800 (Goa to Bekal in 2AC for 2 adults)
  • + 1600 (Bekal to Kochi in 2AC)
  • + 600 for spending on the trains

= total 64,000, or an average of Rs12,800 a night.

It’s still a lot, but if savings can be made on other parts of the trip, it soon brings the costs down, so here’s a few tips that may save you a bit of money.

Fly into Mumbai or Delhi, then take a train, it saves a lot, there’s a lot of competition into Mumbai and Delhi, so cheaper fares.

One night here, 2 nights there etc. offers very little chances to save money and becomes very tiring, limit your visit to less places with longer in each, it then makes overnight trains a really useful option, and that’s where you really save money.

Don’t spend 3 days on this beach, then 3 days on that beach, choose carefully, then choose 1 beach, staying longer gives you more bargaining power with hotels, and also is far more relaxing.

I know it’s hard, but if you’re not going in peak time, sort out your accommodation when you get there, if going to beach locations, the real bargains are on the ground, not online.

Stay back from the beach when choosing accommodation, 100-200 metres from the beach not only gets you better accommodation, but also cheaper.

Rent an apartment instead of using hotels, we stayed in a lovely big 1 bedroom apartment in Goa for Rs3200 a night (Owner's Direct), it was a really great place and away from the hustle and bustle, there were even cheaper places when we got there, but we loved our place, there’s loads of great apartments can be booked in Goa or Kerala. Owners Direct and Trip Advisor's Holiday Rentals are good places to research/look.

We had 11 nights at the apartment in Goa (35,000), 4 nights at the Taj (89,000), 2 nights in Mumbai (8000) and 2 nights on the train (3,400), and spent an average of about 1300 per day outside the Taj.

  • 35,000
  • 80,000
  • 8,000
  • 3,400
  • 17,000

total = 143,300

or Rs7,500 per day (Damn, did we spend that much????, I could do 6 months on that price)

Make sure your stay in a luxury hotel is towards the end of your trip, it's very difficult to go from a luxury room to a lower priced room. 

And on that note

Mumbai, I feel a need to say how wonderful the Residency Hotel is in Mumbai, I’d stayed there a few years ago, but they've since renovated all the rooms, we stayed in a £50 room, and considering we’d just come from the Taj at Bekal, we were impressed with the rooms at the residency, a lot smaller, but very modern and very clean, and as always, very friendly and helpful staff.