Built in 1506 this former Portuguese governor’s mansion has witnessed the comings and goings of some impressive figures over the centuries, including globetrotting Jesuit missionary St. Francis Xavier and Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama. Nestled amidst towering rain trees bought to Kerala by the early European explorers, this house-cum-hotel has just eight -rooms, each decorated with a jumble of antiques from Fort Cochin’s past. Throughout the teak-floor rooms and public spaces French army hats sit alongside gruesome war battles, portraits of Dutch East India Company officers and a Henri Cartier-Bresson photograph of Jawaharlal Nehru. Due to the proximity of St Francis Xavier Church, next door, alcohol is not permitted. Instead, relax in the public lounge or by the side of the small courtyard pool.

Double rooms from $230 half board; Fort Cochin, Kerala; +91 484 2217181; www.neemranahotels.com