Goa is best known for its beaches with people using the state capital, Panjim, as merely a place to land at the airport and maybe stop for a drink or lunch before heading north or south. This is a great shame, as Panjim has a lot to offer: in particular, it contains perhaps the best collection of remnants of its past as a Portuguese colony. These are best seen in the suburb of Fontainhas, where the streets are lined with beautiful and well-maintained Portuguese colonial buildings.
One of these is Afonso Guest House. As the name suggests, it is a small, family-run guest house. It retains its Portuguese flair, with a warm yellow exterior and plants flanking the entrance. Inside, there are just a handful of guest rooms, which are simple and practical rather than luxurious. But the rooms are clean, tidy, airy and well-maintained, while bathrooms are spotless and functional. The rooms have been maintained in a traditional style, so do not expect televisions or mod cons. There is no in-house restaurant or cafe either, nor are toiletries provided. But Afonso has other charms: in particular, a gorgeous roof terrace overlooking the Fontainhas streets and with a great view of the nearby whitewashed 1818 St Sebastian Chapel. The guesthouse will serve you a simple breakfast of eggs and Goan ‘pao’ bread here, as well as tea and coffee. There are also a few lovely Goan restaurants very close by.
Overall, Afonso is a lovely place to stay and an ideal spot in which to base yourself while visiting Goa. It is not the kind of hotel in which you linger, rather, a spot to lay your head in between exploring, yet its traditional Goan charm, combined with the pleasant hospitality of the mother-son duo who run it, make it a wonderful stop on your holiday agenda.