Bespoke Luxury at La Villa Pondicherry

La Villa - Pondicherry
An unassuming gate, that we drive past twice, opens into a small, leafy courtyard dominated by our restored 19th century ‘manor’ hotel: the former Villa Notre-Dame de la Garde, one time residence of the principal of the French school opposite. Now re-christened La Villa.

We find the sparingly restored facade charming. We are relieved to discover, however, that the distressed charm ends at the threshold, and that the colonial character of the villa with its colonnaded veranda and original high beamed ceiling has been successfully re-interpreted indoors, within an informal contemporary aesthetic. A beautiful panel of patterned Athangudi tiles set into the stark grey cement floor of the foyer is an understated nod to Pondicherry’s Tamil heritage.
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The Franco -Tamil interpretation morphs into modern chic in the six individual suites: two off the foyer, and the rest in a new annex accessed by a spiral staircase at the back of the garden. Of the latter, three open onto a swimming pool at the first level, and the largest suite occupies the floor above, accessed by yet another spiral staircase. Our suite on the lower level, has a lovely little glass enclosed terrace that is, sadly, unusable in the current weather. But the pool, with occupancy being low in the off season, almost feels private.

For all that luxury, the property’s USP lies in the service. Kavitha the young manager and her small band of efficient, caring staff leave no room for complaint. The lovely Reshma who manages the courtyard restaurant deserves particular mention.
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The quality of food, served a la carte in the intimate courtyard out front, is a real surprise! In fact, from our limited perspective, we might rate it the best restaurant in the city. A grilled chicken and mango salad and a Cambodian Amok style prawn in coconut milk served in the shell, are both memorable. The flavour of the cardamom and espresso panna cotta seems too spicy at first, but our palate craves more by the time we scrape out the last spoonful. The standout for us is the chocolate ‘Namelaka’: a silky smooth and exquisitely dark chocolate mousse topped with a single scoop of tart orange sorbet.
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To sum up, the pros: Excellent location in the heart of the French quarter, Impeccable service, great food, strong WiFi, the Fragonard toiletries and the fabulous, fabulous shower!

Cons? The absence of a liquor license (awaited). Not having wine to go with all that lovely food is tragic, although they do offer free use of minibars with limited alcoholic and soft beverages replenished once daily. The minimalist decor and the fact that they do not accept children below sixteen might be cons for some, but it wasn’t for us.

Disclaimer: Our stay was generously discounted, but opinions as always are my own.

PS: Thumbnail image courtesy La Villa

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Madhu is an Interior designer turned travel blogger on a long sabbatical to explore the world. When not crafting stories on The Urge To Wander, she's probably Tweeting @theurgetowander or sharing special moments on

43 thoughts on “Bespoke Luxury at La Villa Pondicherry

  1. I am seriously envious, Madhu…..but have to remind myself that I would not manage the heat or the humidity….

  2. What a beautiful piece of architecture, both inside and out. I’ve enjoyed the sate-esque amok in Cambodia but never in Laos and it’s been a while since I’ve heard it referenced at all. Would’ve loved to see some pics of those dishes 🙂

    1. Darcy, good catch! Amok IS Cambodian! Have edited the blooper! Must have had Laos on my mind 🙂

      I was supposed to be on a digital break on this weekend and refrained from carrying my camera to the table. Regretting it now!

      1. You know, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a Laotian version or something similar as well due to the geographical closeness of these and many other Southeast Asian countries. I found cultural and cuisine crossovers all the time, particularly between Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

        1. I won’t be surprised if there is. Of the two we distinctly preferred Laotian cuisine. We might even pick it over Thai!

  3. Beautiful old world charm I guess that is what Pondicherry is. I have been to this wonderful place and cherish the memories. Thank s Madhu and cheers 🙂

  4. Your description of the place tempts me to go and see it even if it is for a day. It is such a pleasure to read your description. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Beautiful descriptions Madhu, really brought out the sights, sounds and smells. Made my toes ache. That orange sorbet gahhh (takes bite of bread) lovely!

  6. I love the open ess of the place, Madhu, and after a recent visit of 4 grandchildren last week, ages 10-16, I can appreciate the age restrictions you mentioned. They would be giving that swinging chair a whirl. 🙂 You brought back pleasant memories of Cambodian Amok and its incredible flavors. Sounds like you had the best of both worlds…an old world charming place to stay in with a superb menu.

  7. Beautiful colonial architecture, Madhu. Your tastefully decorated suite looks so fresh and comfortable, and the food sounds delectable. Did you try out the hanging chair? 🙂

  8. For someone like me who has never been to India, following your blog is a bit like putting together pieces of complex puzzle. This missing piece of a luxury hotel in a charming quarter of Pondicherry is a lovely addition to the big picture. Thank you for continuing to educate me on your fascinating country. I would love to stay at this villa, and perhaps by the time I do, the liquor license will have been approved!

  9. Thank you for this wonderful post Madhu. After a lifetime of being stationary, I think I might be able to travel to Pondicherry later this year. I shall most certainly check out La Villa. You make it so enticing. Take care, and god bless. Keep your wings on, angel… and keep bringing us a beautiful world!

  10. I love little places like this that have some history but are updated as charming boutique hotels – a perfect combination. I really should start a file of links to all these places profiled in the blog world! Thanks!

  11. How beautiful, Madhu! Just up my creative street!
    The two places that have been particularly recommended for me off and on – Pondicherry and Italy!

  12. Everything about this place says “fabulous” – I’d love to stay here, but after a few months on the road I’m not sure I’ll be able to afford it! Looks like you and R were the only guests when you went. 🙂

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