Nine Skies, Demodara, Sri Lanka

Nine Skies, Demodara, Sri Lanka

Set in a working tea estate, stylish
bungalow-turned-hotel Nine Skies offers a tranquil

Sri Lankan
retreat overlooking the verdant valleys of

Perched in the hills above the village of Demodara, this
stylishly converted planter’s bungalow really does put the t(ea) in
tranquil. Nine Skies is a place where magic sweeps in with the
morning mist, where every view across the verdant valley seems to
nourish the soul.

Put on your walking boots (or the hotel’s wellies) and hike
through tea fields to hidden waterfalls; sink into the slender
infinity pool and watch trains rumbling around the mountain, or
wander along century-old tracks to the majestic Nine Arch Bridge.
The adventurous can clamber up Ella Rock for unparalleled views or
borrow a bike and explore the hill country.

Come evening, cosy up by the roaring fire with a board game or
book as one of the butlers whips up a refreshing cocktail. There’s
plenty of pampering to be had here, and many will want to while
away days in the garden, breathing in the fresh mountain air.
Service is impeccable, too: indulgent but never intrusive. We loved
playing with the resident puppies and trying fruit picked fresh
from the garden, while the picnic we were packed off with – freshly
made samosas and cinnamon rolls – kept us dreaming of Nine Skies
all the way home.


The bungalow seamlessly marries old and new: original features
rest easily alongside stylish wooden furniture; dashes of colour
mean that Nine Skies feels surprisingly modern without losing its
sense of history. All five rooms are well-appointed, with high
ceilings and pillow-soft four poster beds, baths and private
verandas. We stayed in the sprawling Ella Rock suite, which comes
with a spacious separate sitting room and a 19th-century writing
desk overlooking the valley – the perfect spot to pen your
postcards home.

What’s for breakfast?

What isn’t? Locally harvested teas and cafetiere coffee make
sure the eyes are open, while zingy fresh juices and abundant fruit
platters get the taste buds tingling. Then it’s down to the real
business. The classic hotel hits – full English, granola, eggs
benedict – are not to be sniffed at, but the Sri Lankan breakfasts
are truly out of this world. Having tried egg hoppers, coconut roti
and masala dosa, we thought it couldn’t get any better, but our
special send-off breakfast of string hoppers and spicy prawn curry
topped the lot.

How about lunch and dinner?

Meals are à la carte, but chef Danushka is happy to veer away
from the menu and craft dishes just for you. Everything is cooked
fresh and much of the produce comes from the hotel’s gardens. At
lunchtime it’s hard to look past the superb rice and curry feasts,
but if you want to save yourself for dinner, there are tempting
smaller bites too – we loved the dahl, salads and sandwiches with
chips. Three-course evening meals are indulgent affairs; a
melt-in-the-mouth ribeye steak with mash and up-country veg was a
particular highlight.

Is there a bar?

Of course. A sleek, fully stocked bar cabinet stands proudly in
the sitting room – a nod to the bungalow’s history, which adds to
the hotel’s homely feel. You can play barman yourself or ask the
butlers to make whatever you like.


Nine Skies benefits from an infinity pool and croquet lawn.
There are books, board games and bikes you can borrow, plus
wellies, hats and cashmere shawls should you need them during your
stay. The hotel offers a free and fast laundry service. All food
and drinks – as well as a tour of a local tea factory – are

Things I should know…

The hill country evenings can get a little chilly, so you might
want to bring a jumper.

Within a short walk I can find…

Plenty of tea plantations, plus the quaint and historic Demodara
Railway Station. From there you can head to Ella on foot or by
train, or ride the rails all the way to Kandy – surely the most
magical train ride the whole world over.