Location: Tamil Nadu & the Andaman Islands | India

Price guide: £££££ Less than £100 per person per night

Visalam is a beautiful heritage hotel in a restored merchant’s mansion in the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu. The hotel encapsulates Chettinad’s rich and unique cultural history, characterised by the wealth and cultural fusion brought about by the area’s prosperous mercantile class. Situated between Trichy and Madurai, this hotel is perfectly located for exploring the region and for experiencing the famously complex and distinctive flavours of Chettinad cuisine.
Perfect forExperiencing the distinctive culture and cuisine of Chettinad in style.
In the know
  • Housed in a restored merchant’s mansion with great character and original architectural features
  • Cooking classes available to teach you the secrets of Chettinad’s renowned cuisine
  • Abundance of beautiful temples in the surrounding area

Recommended for...

  • Cultural Immersion
  • Food & Wine
  • History & Heritage
  • Off the Beaten Track

Hotel Overview

Sense of place

Housed in the former mansion of a Chettiar merchant, when the property passed to Visalam’s owners they decided to retouch rather than renovate the property and retain its historic character. That attitude extends to cultural touches around the hotel, like rangoli – the traditional scattering of coloured rice and powder into beautiful artworks – along the hotel’s corridors each morning.

Rooms at Visalam

The ornate woodwork and art deco grilles of the original mansion remain, as does the beautiful Italian marble, and the result is 15 beautiful heritage rooms with a historic atmosphere. Rooms feature local, handmade dark wood furniture, exposed wooden beams in the ceilings, and polished floor tiles, with the overall décor being a combination of South Indian and colonial styles.

Food and drink

Chettinad cuisine is renowned in India for its rich and complex flavours, characterised by the combination of classic Indian ingredients with Southeast Asian spices such as star anise – the result is one of the most distinctive and aromatic cuisines in India. Food is served in a variety of locations, including the beautiful dining hall, where you sit at long, banquet-style tables; the Grill Restaurant, where you can dine semi-alfresco in an open-sided wooden building; and the Poolside Café, where local snacks are served up in an informal environment. Chettinad thalis – southern Indian platters – are distinctive for their use of game birds like quail alongside a rich assortment of seafood.


The hotel features a beautiful outdoor swimming pool, and the restaurant’s kitchens offer a range of culinary classes and programmes – some of them spanning several days – which will help you get to grips with Chettinad’s rich cooking traditions. Chettinad is also famed for the extravagant saris worn by its women, and classes are available to teach you how to wear a sari or a dhoti, the traditional men’s garment.

Activities at Visalam

The hotel has a traditional bullock cart which is used to transport guests on a historical tour through Chettinad’s cultural attractions. These include more of the mansions in the style of the hotel, built as the homes of Chettinad’s wealthy merchants, and impressive temples at Mathur, Iranikovil, Vairavanpatti and Pillaiyarpatti. There is also a rare temple to Saraswati, the Indian goddess of knowledge, learning and the arts. Many of Chettinad’s wealthy residents were patrons of the arts, and invested in local handicraft traditions; head to Karaikudi antique market to pick up a one-of-a-kind souvenir.

Best time to go

Best time to travel

Good time to travel (but some limitations)

Travel is possible (but it’s not the best time)

Travel is not recommended

  • Jan
  • Feb
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Best time to go

Hotel location

Visalam is a 2 hour drive from the nearest airport at Madurai, which welcomes regular flights from Chennai International Airport (1h20).

Stay at Visalam on these trips

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