Kochi is a city that is replete with history. While the main city has transformed over the years, Fort Kochi is a seaside islet that still carries remnants of the port's colonial influences. From Aspinwall House which was once the home of a thriving spice trade enterprise and is now the main venue for the Kochi Muziris Biennale, to smaller godowns and old houses that have been restored - the winding lanes of Fort Kochi is a study in preserving heritage and architectural legacy.
Azora by Ayatana on Calvathy Road, just a quick walk away from the town centre, is a property that exemplifies this. This boutique stay is housed in an Old Court House that was constructed over two centuries ago. The heritage property was first the banking office of ANZ Grindlays, and then later a warehouse for teas and spices. Retaining the old Harlequin flooring and the ornate detailing, it has gone through many renovations and is now a luxurious space, accented with plush furniture and modern amenities.
The property has 16 rooms that range from elegantly designed club rooms to royal and presidential suites that offer great views of Fort Kochi. With pristine white walls, accents of marine blue and beautiful verandahs on each floor, the property offers a chance to experience a retro Fort Kochi experience. From the handwoven baskets that adorn the walls to wicker chairs in the lobby, offer a nod to the coastal location. The varying cultures that have influenced the history of the property are seen in its smaller details - from the beautiful arches at the facade of the hotel to the Portuguese doors to the rooms to the antique flip switches.
For guests that are hoping to delve deeper into the culture and cuisine of the locale, they offer an interactive culinary experience. The chefs at the property can help the guests get a better understanding of the process and history of procuring fresh catch from the harbour and the influences that have shaped the menu. The location of Azora makes it especially appealing, as it is a walkable distance from the best that Fort Kochi has to offer, whether you’re looking to sit by the beach or try out some of the unique restaurants around.
However, in addition to offering a luxury stay experience, the property also houses a franchise of the French Café brand - Café Noir. The café chain, which has gained popularity on a national level for its continental fare, is housed on the ground floor of Azora. The colonial architecture of the building and the décor is the perfect setting for the laid-back luxurious appeal of the café. From a vegetarian Croque aux Legume sandwich to Grilled Salmon Filet, they have something for everyone on the menu.
In addition to being a popular stay during the Kochi Muziris Biennale, it also hosted the exhibition Spectres and the Sea: Notes from Muziris & the Indian Ocean in association with the Muziris Heritage Project. It features a range of artefacts, images and stories that have emerged from this port, ranging from tools to earthen pots and much more. Azora was a befitting venue for this exhibition that explores the connection between the port town of Muziris, and the broader Indian Ocean World. While Kochi Muziris Biennale concluded, Fort Kochi continues to be a hub of art and heritage, with immersive experiences and cultural events happening year around. For those seeking to experience the locale up close and personal, Azora by Ayatana is a luxury hotel that captures the essence of Fort Kochi’s deep history while staying true to its artsy contemporary spirit.
You can know more about the hotel on its Instagram.
If you enjoyed reading this, here's more from Homegrown: