This little island packs its fair share of wonders all different from one another, and all giving a different punch. History, and traditions explored in various angles is just one of them. In hospitality as it should this historical imprinted has a definitive space, in monuments to archeology, the fallen buildings to stories and Sri Lanka has quite a pack, ready to be explored.
What if we tell you, there’s a huge part of unexplored history, often told in ways that the caretakers only wish to tell. “The hotels” with history, from a bold design style from the Dutch coming down to the English, there are some very distinctively featured hotels that have stories waiting to be told.
Today, we take you down the path of historic hotels that you shouldn’t miss in your trip to the paradise island.
Just across the Temple of tooth in Kandy stands the white washed colonial building, the Queens. Presently known as the best spot to spectate the Kandy perahera, this magnificent building once used to be the residence of Dullewe adikarama (chieftain), in the latter years after the fall of Kandyan kingdom the building was converted as the mess complex of the Ceylon Rifle Regiment and was subsequently named as Malabar House. In 1879 it was passed to one Miss Piachud as a Kandy viewing spot and in the years to come it got converted to a hotel held by Kandy Hotels Limited. Queens has managed come through waves of time, just maintaining its own distinct shape and had attracted a spectacular crowd with this same reason. Do not forget to visit the museum housed at the premises for better dusting off on the history of the establishment. At Tripavi we bring you the best rooms to watch the annual Kandy perahera from the rooms facing the lake.
Founded in the year 1876 just as a home spot for the planters from England and Scotland, the Hill club largely resembles the shape of a country stone house in the UK. Hill club had maintained their club status from then to now, still operating the by invitation only club in the premises. As it should the Club still maintains the colonial dress code and the style. This grandeur building and the neat gardens has seen a lot, rise and fall of governments, wars ad peace and the change in times just to name a few. But it still maintains that once grand and spectacular taste of stone cottage and popular stay among British and European travellers. Hill Club is among the most preferred accommodation options among our sustaining Danish clientele and we use it as one of the main stop overs for our golfing holidays.
Tintagel is undoubtedly the epitome of modern Sri Lankan politics. Quoting the official website “Completed in 1930, Tintagel was intended as a residence for Dr. Lucien de Zilwa. In the mid 1940’s de Zilwa was given a week to vacate the property by the British Military to house one hundred soldiers. The military occupation saw the house wrecked and de Zilwa sold Tintagel to Sir Solomon Dias Bandaranaike for his son, Solomon West Ridgeway (S.W.R.D.). It is from this point in time that the house gained recognition as a structure of national importance. It was here that Ceylon’s political history was decided. S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike became Prime Minister in 1956 and he was shot on the verandah of Tintagel in 1959 and subsequently died in hospital. In 1960, his widow, Sirimavo Bandaranaike, became the world’s first female Prime Minister. The younger daughter of S.W.R.D. and Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga progressively became a Chief Minister, Prime Minister and then Sri Lanka’s first female President in 1994. In 2005 Tintagel went to the hands of private owner and was developed to a hotel, and was even graced by the presence of Prince of Wales at the Commonwealth Summit in 2013. We recommend Tintagel for the historic and a memorable stay in a quiet part of the vibrant city of Colombo.
Mount Lavinia Hotel
Carrying a telltale of love story Mount Lavinia hotel used to be the residence of Sir Thomas Maitland, the second governor of Ceylon. The 46 year old Maitland came to Sri Lanka and wanted to build himself a mansion in the close proximity to the capital, which eventually became Mount Lavinia Hotel named after his lady love Lady Lowina Alponso, a low caste dancer from out and about. As it should be Maitland and Lovina’s love story was looked down on and Maitland built a tunnel from Lovina’s house to his for them to meet secretively which to date is at the hotel. After the British reign fell, the grandeur house was converted to a hotel and is among the finest in the country even still. Mount Lavinia hotel is one of our recommended stays equally popular among all our traveler groups and especially among the sports groups who travel to Sri Lanka with Tripavi.
Carrying the Dutch Colonial Legacy between its thick walls, Amangalla is an icon inside an icon. The classic now hotel inside the fort walls of Galle was initially used as a headquarters for Dutch commanders and staff, in the latter part of English rule this grand building served as a hotel named New Oriental, serving mostly the British clientele coming to and from the Galle port and Colombo (when Galle used to be a port for international travel vessels). In 2005 Aman group overtook the ownership of the building and converted it to the luxury hotel Amangalla preserving its colonial shape and making it a very comfortable lodging for the international travellers. Aman is among the luxury hotel recommendations we always put to in the Sri Lanka map and a recommended choice of accommodation preferably for honeymooners by us.
Which once stood as a 16th century merchant house, now is a super luxury hotel. A luxury merchant house in the latter part of the Dutch ruling was very much neglected from the 1950’s, being inside the Dutch Fort, this building even though needed specific attention with its immersive Dutch architecture was beyond reach. In the beginning years of 2000 it was found appealed as a historic monument and was beautifully restored to a fort house retaining its original charm and the beauty just like it would have been in the glory days.
Galle Face hotel
Starting out as a Dutch villa in the 1600’s as a meeting point for the gentlemen, the Galle face dusting off to a proper hotel in the 1800’s went on to gather fame as the best hotel in the south of Suez. With its brown walls and the unmistakable colonial charm mixing along with the sea spray at the side of the hotel, now one of the iconic buildings in Colombo, the hotel maintains its grace, even well so than it was yesterday and brings out the polished look of the meeting point of Colonial charm and the metropolitan glam. Definitely a worth visit not forgetting a pop of head to the olde cellars. In Colombo, there’s no better historic hotel we would want to recommend for you to stay.
A popular tea planters retreat from the beginning part of the 18th century, Bandarawela hotel was built as a hotel preserving its colonial charm at an easy reach from the train station. Time has not done a many changes to the preserved property of Bandarawela Hotel, still very little developed from what is has been, from the heated rooms to the cemented floors, and lattice separators with bright colored flowers vines running up, it is as if time stood here. Bandarwela is an intermediary zone to the hills and a comfort stop to many planters which now belonging to a popular hotel group staying as it would Bandarawela hotel just makes a classic example of British comforts landed in the 21st century. Banadarwela hotel is a popular stopover point by our and European clientele who takes the amazing hill country journey by train.
Originally constructed as the summer retreat of the then governor Sir Edward Barnes and subsequently named after him as the Barnes Hall, this one story manor house looks over the Lake Gregory in Nuwara Eliya. In 1892 it was sold to a hotel management company and to date the governor’s wing stands, the original Elizabeth Era manor then took a turn to run along with the modernity as a mock Tudor manor and different wings and additions along the way had now made the Grand Hotel of what you see today. Today with an indoor heated pool and a neatly manicured garden the Grand maintains the undiluted class among the fellow regency era classics and serves up high perhaps even more. We vouch no better place than Grand Hotel to stay in Nuwara Eliya with all the grandeur comforts and modern day living. We recommend The Grand if you are looking for a luxury stay, with easy access and other recreational activities in Nuwara Eliya.
The ancient Nugedola Walauwa built in the latter part of the 1930’s is a manor house as intended for the then governor of Ceylon and as time would, it got passed down the ownership a several generations after. The grand white building then caught attention of the renowned American actress Gillian Anderson from the X-Files series. After her brief ownership the Nugedola Walauwa was abandoned and then was gone to the hands of another private owner who then reinstated the colonial charm as a hotel and restored the historical masterpiece. Now belonging to a boutique hotel chain the Viceroy house shades to a long route of ironwood trees back to the main house and spread around about 27 acre garden.