A 19th-century private residence that offers a ‘sussegad’ experience true to the spirit of old Goa, a new-age communal space to connect with like-minded people, or the familiar feeling of a home with the ease and amenities of a luxury hotel, MansionHaus, located in Anjuna, Goa, has something to offer everyone.
By: Usman Riaz
Posted on: February 8, 2023
LF Says: ★★★★.5
Hidden in plain sight in an unimposing neighbourhood in Anjuna, Goa, MansionHaus couldn’t be a starker contrast to the flamboyant and dazzling spirit that North Goa is known for. Once a 19th-century Portuguese home that was passed down in the family over the years, eventually to MansionHaus’ founder Kezya de Bragança, the property retains the exclusive charm of a private residence with the ease and amenities of a luxury hotel experience.
Stepping into MansionHaus
For the engineer and design enthusiast in me, MansionHaus was a walk through the olden architectural design practices and a window into the homes of 19th-century Goa. It is also an excellent example of renovating heritage homes for a contemporary audience without losing its essence.
The Marie Antoinette Salon Privé - named after the last occupant of the house.
The sprawled estate opens with a cobbled driveway, leading to the porch and the pristine white main building. The first steps are lined on the sides with white-marble cast seats built into the walls of the building, which are a traditional characteristic feature of old Goan homes known as the balcão. Used for relaxing in the afternoon and enjoying evenings with friends, the balcão captures the sussegad spirit of Goa. I imagine, back in the day, it would have been ideal for people-watching.
Entering Means “Welcome Back”
Entering MansionHaus through the balcão feels like stepping into an acoustically sound space where the outside world and its noise dampen and dissipate - akin to the way one would feel stepping into their home.
The Atelier - A soundproof conference hall where you can hear even a pin drop.
As you enter, you set foot into the Marie Antoinette Salon Privé - named after Ms. de Bragança’s grandmother, the last occupant of the house, which holds twin seating areas that are ideal for casual conversations over a coffee or a drink. The privé further leads to the reception parlour, the dining areas, and the suites. Along the way, you pass Kunsthalle - a stylish meeting room cum library and workspace. All the ceilings in MansionHaus, except that of the Kunsthalle, have been renovated, and it is here that you can see a glimpse of the rustic timber beams and the laterite slabs that form the floor for the overlying floor.
While most of the areas at MansionHaus are on the ground floor, a set of stairs leads to the Atelier - a soundproof conference hall with multiple workstations - where you can hear even a pin drop. The walls are punctuated with artworks by the contemporary Goan artist Rajesh Salgaonkar and Bengaluru-based Shylaja Hareesh. The surreal paintings set the already tastefully decorated space a class apart.
The Kunsthalle - The study at MansionHaus.
Vrushali, the manager at MansionHaus, was gracious enough and showed me around the property’s five deluxe suites and four superior suites. While all the suites have impeccably precise neo-classical design, 16 ft high vaulted ceilings, muted colour tones, ensuite white marble wrapped bathrooms, and porcelain floors that contribute to a sense of well-being and fluid living, each comes with its unique character. Some of the suites come with attached plunge pools and terrace gardens, Juliet balconies, an outdoor jacuzzi, or access to a large, shared pool.
Where the Day Starts When You Want it to
During my stay, I was hosted at the Lenora suite, which is one of the four superior suites at MansionHaus. A 620 sq ft space located in the main house and crafted with the same neoclassical detail that is signature to MansionHaus, it offers separate living and bedroom areas along with access to a common pool. The poolside is accessible from the suite, as well as from the ensuite bathroom, adding a sense of easy fluidity. The living room is furnished with modern splendour while keeping intact the spirit of this heritage home.
Lenora Suite - Where the day starts when you want it to.
With glass windows making up the wall that faces the pool, the Lenora suite can be as ventilated and lit as you wish it to be. The day can start when you want it to. For me, it began at 10 AM with a swim, followed by a poolside floating breakfast lounging in a chaise chair. Writing on the workstation throughout the day in the calm and silence of the suite was a delight.
Apart from the refreshing quiet and relaxing escape that MansionHaus offers, there are a number of bookable experiences such as sound meditation, massages, yoga sessions, and something so intriguing that I could not NOT go for: an excursion in a vintage car. Chauffeur Jacento arrived with an ivory coloured top-down 1931 Ford. With Jacento’s sun hat and the Ford’s wood-carved interiors, the duo looked like they had just teleported from the set of a period film. The ride through Anjuna and all the way to Fort Aguada was filled with gasps and jaw-drops from onlookers. Even stopping in traffic would make one feel like a royal.
Spoiler: The Real Menu is Off-Menu
ManshionHaus’ kitchen is a culinary delight offering a unique dining experience that stays true to MansionHaus’ maxim of “Connect. Discover. Transform.” Guests have the option to dine in the Summer Room - which holds a communal table that can seat up to 20 guests, the Angler - an experiential bar and bistro that encourages interaction among the residents, or the East Garden - an outdoor annexe space to enjoy the evenings.
John DeSouza, the head chef at MansionHaus, is a magician who went the extra mile to make my culinary experience unforgettable. At the first glance, the menu, which looks quite standard, is without surprise and doesn’t lean toward any specific cuisine. But when you sit down for a meal, you’ll see Chef John and his team’s finesse in handcrafting a pleasant and completely off-menu surprise for you.
The Angler Bar at MansionHaus Goa.
In his welcoming manner of conversation, he took note of my meal preferences and favourites and ended up serving exemplary dishes curated right to my palette. His affiliation at MansionHaus is, for him, a return to his Goan roots by exploring the local cuisine, as well as giving it a contemporary flair. He turned alle belle, a traditional Goan stuffed pancake, into a hearty yet weightless dessert that would befit a king. His “letting the ingredients speak about themselves” approach works wonderfully, and I attest to this as I can’t seem to forget the refreshing Sea Bass cooked in tomato coconut curry or the roasted pumpkin and curried seeds with yoghurt-dill dressing. Nothing overpowering and nothing that underwhelms; everything is made just right, accompanied by equally awe-inspiring drinks to complement.
Post serving the guests breakfast, Chef DeSouza is off to handpick the catch of the day, the choicest cuts of meat, locally sourced fresh flowers and microgreens. You will see the extra effort pay off when you dig in for the first bite. Every morsel feels comforting and homely, even though you know you couldn’t possibly have had it at home.
The prettily set up Summer Room.
Goodbye Means “See You Soon”
As people, our environment affects us in a manner that is just as unique as ourselves. And of course, a space can end up having a different meaning for every individual. At the end of my stay, the hospitality I experienced had me thinking that I had gained another place I could call home. I had a feeling that many before me, and many still to come, will feel the same.
Amidst the ever-increasing tourism in Goa, particularly the North, MansionHaus proves to be a breath of fresh air. It is a living oasis that upholds the philosophy of community living and sustainable thinking that lie at the very crux of life in Goa. Seeing the meticulous restoration and renovation at the hand of the founder Ms. de Bragança, which, I am told, lasted three years, MansionHaus has not only done right by its roots but has instead chosen to bloom.
Coordinates: 1263, Gaunvaddi, Anjuna, Goa, India
LF Says: ★★★★.5