So, over the Eid break I decided to pop my Sri Lanka cherry and BOY did I come back with zero regrets. An island comprising amazing culture, a very animated tour guide, rich history and stellar hotels – like this one.
The first impression.
We’d been moving at a crawl for most of the winding road north from Sri Lanka’s capital of Colombo, our ever-smiling driving pointing out the hotel is “not that far” every thirty minutes or so. Finally, after passing through a small township and into darkness, our driver made a sharp left turn down a long and winding dirt track. As I sat in the back seat clamouring to see any hint of a hotel ahead (and planning how to get out of a potential kidnapping, in case that is what the situation actually was), there was nothing but darkness ahead.
Finally, we pulled up into a dimly lit undercover lobby. I think I would’ve definitely appreciated the dramatic entrance far more during daylight hours, when the hotel looks like this:
You’ll find this gem of a resort in Dambulla in Sri Lanka’s Central Province – smack bang in the middle of Sri Lanka’s ‘Golden Triangle’. It’s also 11km from the famous – and UNESCO heritage listed – Sigiriya rock fortress and Dambulla Cave Temple, as well as a smattering of other historic and religious sites.
The property also fronts Kandalama reservoir – known locally as a “tank”- which means breakfast typically looks like this:
The super-eco-friendly hotel was designed by famed local lawyer-turned-architect Geoffrey Bawa. The greenery covering the hotel explains why it was so hard to detect in the distance. I don’t even think you’d be able to spot it easily during the day.
Still showering bucketloads of thanks upon Kabbala Monster, for we were upgraded on arrival to one of the two Luxury Suites on the property. Situated on the hotel’s seventh floor, the suite comprises a big lounge area, smaller bedroom, a summer room, wide balcony and a bathroom complete with Jacuzzi.
Around the hotel.
There’s lots to take in while you’re in this part of the country, and I am really bummed we only had two nights to spare. Apart from three pools and a smattering of restaurants, the hotel is also home to a Six Senses Spa, which I would have loved more time to try (damn you, Sri Lanka and your abundance of World Heritage sites!). F&B outlets were nice enough. On our first night we opted for room service, which was pretty reasonably priced (especially if you order local dishes – win-win for you!). Dinner on the second night was at the formal restaurant, Kaludiya Fushion, which “blends cultural influences from around the globe”. Case in point: Caesar salad with grilled local prawns.
These Jacuzzi views:
And a special shout-out to the banana-scented shower gel. Deeee-lish.
If we really had to nitpick here, it would be that the service was a little slow at Kaludiya. That said, the staff were very friendly and the pre-dinner wine was going down a treat, so I didn’t see it as a massive issue.
The final word.
Amazing location + good looks = a second date with this one, ASAP.
- How much? From US $206 a night. Treat yo’self to the Luxury Suite from US $413 a night (inc. breakfast). Half- and full-board options are also available.
- Wi-Fi? Yes, and it’s free. Cha-ching!
- Contact deets? +94 66 5555 000
- Good for? Lovebirds and la familia.
- Any insider tips? Spend a day of your stay chilling at the Six Senses Spa. Also, you know the signs on your balcony screen doors warning you to keep them closed lest your room be ravaged by wild monkeys? They are there for a reason, guys. We opened our balcony door a crack one morning because we couldn’t see any monkeys. Nek minut, ten of them appear from nowhere, acting all nonchalant but clearly keen to check out our room if given the chance. Nice try, suckers.