We stumbled upon Goa’s best kept secret. Hint! its not a beach.
Did we just step back in time?
Hmm, quite possibly!
I almost expected a vintage jalopy to come trundling along when we walked into this quiet lane on one of our wandering afternoons in Panjim. It seemed like suddenly we were caught in a time warp, stepping into the old colonial times of the Portuguese in Goa. Quaint family homes with colonial architecture and little white picket fences. Brightly colored villa’s with flowers overflowing from balconies, ivy growing decoratively on others. Narrow winding streets, still rich with its Portuguese heritage take you deeper into this maze, into a place where you wont find your typical tourists. This, is Fontainhas, the Latin Quarter.
We spent a languid and fascinating afternoon wandering around the ‘Rua’s’ as the streets here are called. It amazed me, that even after visiting Goa for decades, we had never once heard of this hidden gem. In one clearing, it still felt like Christmas at the red and white well in the courtyard of a blue cottage. Streamers fluttering above the square.
Vintage cars posed in garages and trellises with lush bougainvillea peeped out at every yard.
After admiring the quaint white chapel in the center, and the art gallery at one intersection, we found the tiny garden cafe of the WelcomHeritage Panjim Inn. Wrought iron chairs and tables nestled amidst stone cupids and plants, and instantly we knew this was the perfect place to just relax with a good book and some tea after all that walking. It’s wonderful how well maintained and artistic this part of Goa is. Some galleries had old fashioned shop window displays, with ceramic art displayed.
This place makes you want to keep turning the next corner to see what you discover on the next Rua.
On my next trip to Goa, I’m definitely going to stay in gorgeous Fontainhas. These are a few hotels I found really embodied the heritage and culture of the area.
Welcomheritage Panjim Inn
The oldest heritage hotel in Goa, this structure used to be a grand family mansion, with a courtyard, cafe and spa. It has kept its antique charm even after being converted into a hotel filled with pieces of history displayed around the property. The rooms have balconies overlooking the waterfront and I loved the the massive carved antique bed fit for a king.
Hospedaria Abrigo De Botelho
A quaint and cosy hotel with free wifi, right in the center of Fontainhas.
A sister property of Panjim Inn, this is also a heritage hotel with glorious artwork adorning the halls and beautifully restored antique furniture.
La Maison Fontainhas
Experience luxury with your personal concierge at this charming hotel with a modern twist. It has very few rooms so you need to book in advance. Also try their European fusion restaurant Desbue.
So now you know the secret! Just remember to pack some walking shoes and a good camera and get set to explore this fantastic destination.