The Kandy House, Gunnepana, Sri Lanka
10 November, 2017
When Ratwatte Adigar, the chief minister of the Kingdom of Kandy, decided to build himself a home in 1804, he dreamt big. Defying contemporary conventions, he chose roof tiles that had hitherto been reserved for royal residences. Clearly, Adigar envisaged his house as a palace - and it turned out as such. Fast-forward two centuries, The Kandy House remains as opulent as ever. Nestled in the misty hills above the town, it oozes old-world, eastern charm. The hotel's winding drive leads to a grand building with white-washed walls and arched colonnades, spacious verandas are adorned with antique ebony furniture and an open-air courtyard at the heart of the home provides a constant connection with nature.
Tucked away deep in the garden you'll find the jungle pool. Shrouded by tall palms and banana trees - and overlooking neighbouring paddy fields - it's serene and secluded; the kind of place you could just sit and think for hours. Come evening, the far-off sound of monks chanting and the chirp of resident crickets provide the soundtrack. Gardens bejewelled with fairy lights add to the magic. In short, Kandy House soothes and inspires, giving guests a taste of nostalgic opulence rarely found in modern life.
The Kandy House, Gunnepana
The hotel's nine rooms are individually styled and named after butterflies indigenous to Sri Lanka. Ultra rooms open out onto the veranda and are perfect for reading, with chaise longues and rocking chairs to while away the hours in. Deluxe rooms are slightly smaller but beautifully furnished: expect high ceilings, mosquito-net-strung four-poster beds and gorgeous floors of wood or stone. Bathrooms are spacious - most have tubs and large open showers - while vibrant fabrics add dashes of colour.
What's for breakfast?
Start with fresh fruit or a power smoothie, then get stuck into a traditional Sri Lankan breakfast. Local options may need to ordered the night before, but it's well worth the forward planning. Egg hoppers and roti cakes come with sambal and dhal - which was some of the best we've ever tried.
What about lunch and dinner?
Lunch is a laid-back affair to be enjoyed poolside or on the veranda. Head to Ambalama for dinner, a terrace restaurant with views over the hotel's lush gardens. Dishes are built around fresh ingredients found in the local markets: three-course menus change daily, drawing inspiration from local and international cuisine. Twice a week chefs cook up a Sri Lankan feast of 10 curries with unlimited red and white rice, sambal and poppadoms.
Is there a bar?
Yes, the Butterfly Bar adjoins restaurant Ambalama, although drinks are perhaps best enjoyed in the gardens or by the pool. Local twists on classic cocktails result in creations such as the Arrack Sour, which pairs the coconut flower liquor with lemon juice in a sugar-rimmed glass.
Pool, room service (though 24 hours), Ayurvedic spa, wifi in public areas.
You should know
It's old-world luxury here, so don't expect a television, minibar or wifi in your room.
Within a short walk you can find...
Degaldoruwa Raja Maha Viharaya, an 18th-century temple with giant statues of Buddha and intricate rock paintings, is about a 20-minute walk away. The Temple of the Tooth and Kandy's other main sites can be reached via taxi or tuk-tuk.