Here are Vaidehi's reviews for the hotels that were stayed at. I hope this helps other western travellers.
Hotel Sea Breeze, Mahabalipuram - Incredible location on the beach and in the middle of town and yet very private. Very nice facilities for the money. Quite safe. Situated on at least a couple of acres of land. One can walk to the beach and the shops, seashore temple and other monuments. Service is very good. Has a good swimming pool. Provides inexpensive Ayurvedic massages. We did have some problems with hotwater, but the management assured us that it was a temporary problem and due to their new solar heating system.
Hotel Parisutham, Thanjavur - Very nice and clean hotel. It's rather expensive. Safe location. Has a pool and a couple of handicraft shops. The food and service is very good. The location is good and right in the middle of town and yet has total privacy. It has a nice pool and provides massages.
Ideal River View Resort, Thanjavur - Very nice heritage hotel situated on a few acres. Priced very reasonable. It is located a few kms from town, but in a very beautiful woodsy setting on the banks of the river Cavery. You wake up with the music of birds in this nice setting. The food is good and the service is very good. It has a nice pool and Ayurvedic massages.
Hotel Germanus, Madurai - Nice & safe location, considering Madurai is a congested town. Clean hotel and good food. This is more a business hotel and not a fancy resort. The staff were courteous and the service was good. It is good for basic amenities.
Sathya Resorts, Tuticorin - Situated on many acres and in a very nice setting with tall palmyra palm trees and dotted all over the property and huge lawn areas with the different buildings & cottages dispersed between. The rooms are very clean and the food is good. The service is excellent and the staff are very courteous.
Saaral Resorts, Courtallam - Situated in the middle of town and yet very private. Has a bunch of cottages, an old renovated mansion and a three level building. The place is new, clean and the food and service are excellent. You can walk to town, the waterfalls and shops from this resort. This is a great place to go and spend 2 weeks.
GRT, Kancheepuram - Situated in the middle of town. It's a business hotel with clean rooms, good food and excellent service.
Hotel Saradharam, Chidambaram - Very nice building and location, but the place is run down. The food is good and vegetarian, but the restaurant service is not good. Not recommended for a western traveller.
Madurai Germanus folks said they were opening a new hotel in Chidambaram.
Bungalow on the Beach, Tranquebar - Great location on the beach, beautifully renovated mansion and a peaceful place to stay. The little town is charming and the people at the hotel and the town are very hospitable. The food is pricey, but good.
Hotel Royal Southern, Tiruchy (SRM Hotel) - Very nice location in a peaceful setting, considering Tiruchy is a congested large city. It's a business hotel. It is clean and the service is adequate. The food is good.
Hotel Royal Park, Rameswaram - Small hotel. Offers basic facilities, but it's clean. The staff were very courteous and helped to arrange a jeep trip to Dhanushkodi, the ruined town which is in the midst of sand dunes today.
Hotel Vestin Park, Chennai - Great location. Nice business hotel. Very courteous staff, basic and good amenities, and quite clean. The food is very good in both restaurants. This location is central to shopping, museum and other attractions. It's in a safe place.
Hotel Sea View, Cape Comorin (Kanya Kumari) - This is a business hotel on the beach. The location is great and it's right in the midst of the charming little town and great for shopping, boat ride etc. It's great to see sunrise from here. The hotel is clean and adequate. The food is good. The service is very good and the staff were courteous.
Pondicherry Ashok - Incredible beach setting. Very nice rooms and in a peaceful location out of town. The food was very good and the service excellent. It's very reasonably priced for what it offers.
Anandha Inn, Pondicherry - Business hotel, great location and very clean. Walking distance to shopping, French quarters to the Promenade. Courteous staff, very nice service and good food.