Elptiya Walauwa Heritage Hotel, Gampola, Sri Lanka
Elptiya Walauwa was one of our favorite finds in Sri Lanka. Located a short distance south of Kandy (outside the small town of Gampola) this is a heritage hotel reminiscent of the small fort palaces, where one stays en famille, in Rajasthan.It really is like stepping back in time. This isn't a redone interpretation of a colonial era home, this is a really home, owned and operated by a direct descendent of the original owner. Slightly worn but completely authentic, it is a charming place to stay and brought a unique flavor to our trip. We cannot recommend it highly enough.
Mrs Padmini is an elegant and gracious host. We turned up on the wrong day, at the wrong house and yet she calmly redirected us to Elptiya Walauwa, where the property was opened up especially for us and a superb meal was served. It was extraordinary and much appreciated, particularly because I felt like a complete fool!
From the front the looks house looks solid and imposing. It seems to be o more than like typical colonial architecture. But from inside it is quite a different space. The central courtyard, covered verandahs and beautiful teak details were captivating. From inside it feels much lighter, brighter and more interesting than the exterior suggests.
It's an eclectic place, with Victorian furniture, colonial planters chairs and art deco pieces combined with family portraits and even a moth-eared moose head! The place, the people and the food were a delight, though the moose has certainly seen better days!
Mrs Padmini's family were among the colonial elite, well educated and involved in government, scholarship and agriculture. Her father was knighted in 1944 and in 1954, as a young girl, she met the Queen on her Commonwealth tour. The house is filled with nostalgic pictures of well dressed family groups.
Our upstairs room was large, light and simply furnished with family antiques and photos. The bathroom had a claw foot tub.
The picture below doesn't convey how fabulous the evening meal was. The tomato curry, the string hoppers and the fish curry were extraordinary. The flavors were subtle, sophisticated and satisfying. This was among the best meals we ate in Sri Lanka.
Although we were the only guests we ate in the dining room which is huge! We also has a lovely breakfast in here, featuring tea and jams made on the estate.he family's tea factory is at the end of the long driveway.
and a great value for money at $70 per night including breakfast. This heritage hotel offers a real opportunity to look into a past way of life and to see how tourism can help preserve these kinds of properties.