On top of Pasumalai Hill, just outside the historic city of Madurai, sits the Gateway Hotel Pasumalai. Originally the home of a British 19th-century textiles magnate, this colonial residence’s whitewashed period buildings are set in 62 acres of lush, landscaped gardens, patrolled by the hotel’s resident peacocks. Its vantage point high above the city makes for spectacular views, particularly of the Dravidian-style Meenakshi Amman Temple.
Hotel rooms are stylish and contemporary but still redolent of colonial times, and overlook the peaceful gardens. All around the hotel are bowls of hibiscus and frangipani, and glowing candles add to the romantic ambience. The extensive grounds are centred around a palm-shaded swimming pool, and the spa and wellness centre offers Ayurvedic treatments and holistic therapies to soothe mind and body.
Local and international dishes are served at VISTA restaurant. Its wonderful breakfast buffet incorporates everything from cereals, eggs and pastries to deep-fried South Indian vadas, omelettes and dosas. By night, take your pick from a menu bursting with international favourites such as pizzas, fish and grilled chicken; authentic vegetarian South Indian curries and pan-Asian dishes. Harveys Lounge Bar is the perfect spot to relax and rewind in colonial style, with a wide selection of imported and local drinks available. There’s even a billiard table to complete the bar’s period feel.