PRICE: Punchy but doesn’t blow the budget
Without doubt, the number one hotel in Kandy, Sri Lanka. But it is small with only nine rooms and competition to get a reservation is intense. This exceptionally pretty old manor house, with its seven trademark arches enclosing the front verandah, has been skilfully converted into a boutique hotel with style and charm. It takes about 15 minutes for your driver to take you here from the centre of Kandy. Once, inside you’ll get an immediate sense of the extraordinary; soothed by the sense of serenity and calm.
The rooms, aptly categorised as Ultra and Deluxe, come in all shapes and sizes. There is no shortage of old world charm: those on the ground level have polished concrete floors, whilst those of the upper floor have stunning wide old teak and jackwood floorboards. All the rooms are beautifully appointed, with a slightly eclectic mix of four-poster beds, silk throws, antique furniture and elegant wall hangings.
And around the house you’ll find interesting black and white photographs as well as a small but well stocked library with fascinating bookings on Sri Lanka. The infinity swimming pool is certainly long enough for serious swimmers to do lengths (we’ve powered away before breakfast on many an early morning, although tumble turns at the shallow end may require a bit of practice!) and has a spectacular view over the paddy fields below.
Like butterflies, the staff float around silently and effortlessly, invisible when they’re not required and yet always on-hand to attend to your every whim. This is the sort of attentive, friendly and efficient service that makes a hotel stay feel special. Sitting on the lawn in the early evening for aperitifs is a delight and the food is top-notch with a tantalising menu comprising both Sri Lankan and Western dishes.
You’ll want for nothing here. Prepare to be spoilt! The hour-long full-body Sri Lankan massage behind the screens in the open-air ambalama is a treat. Book early as there is only one bed.
Of all of the rooms, each named after a butterfly that thrives in Sri lanka, the Black Rajah is the one to look out for, with is deep circular stone bath at the foot of the bed.
On your doorstep
The British garrison cemetery is within striking distance by car. It is old and poignant and home to fascinating stories about the British period which can be brought to life by an enthusiastic guide.