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Generally speaking, when asked for advice about Goa we don’t steer people towards the state’s most popular areas because ‘most popular’, as any discerning traveller will concur, does not equate to ‘best’.

Goa’s busiest stretch of coast, starting once you cross the Mandovi River at Panjim (the capital) and extending from Fort Aguada up to the next bisecting river (the Chapora), is often referred to as ‘north Goa’, but in many ways it feels more like the centre of the state.

However, there are still some quiet back lanes and undeveloped areas in this part of Goa. One such place is Sinquerim, backed up against the sea with Fort Aguada on one side and Candolim on the other, where down a sleepy little dead-end lane Marbella Guesthouse is located.

I stayed here back in November, quite reticent to go to a hotel so near to the madness of Candolim, but I’m so glad I did.

entrance to marbella guesthouse goa

I could trot out a cliché now and tell you that this property is ‘full of old-world charm’. But as fitting as that phrase may feel, it’s technically incorrect as this lovely, big house was actually built in the 80s.

Back then it was a home and party venue for the owners and their friends. With its tropical gardens and shady courtyard, bordering jungle, a discreet location, wide stairs to the front entrance, I imagined all manner of characters turning up for cocktails (embassy staff, actors from Bombay, western rock groups, I got carried away), happy to be free amongst inebriated friends in what was then a sleepy backwater state, an agricultural Goa where farmers and fishermen left a few hippies on the beach to do their thing.

Nowadays of course, Goa has changed beyond recognition, but with its off-the-beaten-track location Marbella still retains much of its magic; there’s no noisy traffic, no walk-in guests and, in fact, no reason to go there unless you’re staying the night.

The rooms

The Penthouse Suite, as you’d expect, is the biggest and best. Also on the first floor is the Garden Room, which overlooks the courtyard below. The Bougainvillea Rooms open out into said courtyard but have their own shared balcony which is really nice. Then there’s the Moghul Suite and Rajasthani Suite, both are big but the latter is the best of the two as it has more privacy. Really, all these rooms are great, it’s difficult to pick one but go for the Penthouse Suite if budget allows.

penthouse suite at marbella guesthouse

room at marbella guesthouse goa

room at marbella guesthouse goa

The food

The local staff here do a great line in Indian and Goan food, it’s all delicious and you can’t really go wrong. Eat in your room, on your balcony or in the communal courtyard.

Breakfast is not included, which is a good thing if, like me, you don’t eat much breakfast. French toast, cereal, fruit, all the western staples are there and all fresh with ample portions.

Out and about there are plenty of places to eat, see our food guide to Goa for more options.

goan prawn curry at marbella guesthouse

french toast breakfast at marbella guesthouse goa

The location

Just over the river from Panjim, but it’s not that simple. Once over the river you have to swing a left towards Nerul and then on to Candolim. Then you have to swing left again and head back south towards Sinquerim which is actually at the bottom of Candolim, sandwiched between it and Fort Aguada and surrounded by jungly land. Marbella is still not easy to find, though Google Maps may help.

A word about the beach: Sinquerim beach is at the southern end of Candolim beach, the two are all one stretch of sand really. There’s water sports here as well as lots of beach shacks. Expect to be ogled if you’re a western woman or are just scantily clad as lots of Indian male tourists hang out here (it’s not really dangerous, just a bit weird).

Better to head out and about, investigate and explore Goa and you will be richly rewarded. 15 minutes in a taxi (ask the hotel to call one) will take you up to Anjuna, Vagator and beyond. Be sure to stop off in Assagao to eat at Gunpowder, day or night, and do venture even further up to Siolim, Morjim and Ashwem.


The rates

The Penthouse Suite here is just 2,700 INR during the off-season. That’s a pretty incredible rate for the space and character of the place. This goes up to just short of 10,000 per night during peak season (Xmas, New Year). The other rooms of course are even cheaper than this, with the Bougainvillea Rooms going for 1,700 per night in the off-season and 6,000 during the peak time.

See the full listing to book or just enquire about Marbella Guesthouse.