Our first night in Sri Lanka we met with nature at the Water Gardens, with peacocks as our wake-up call and a private pool surrounded by grasslands in our villa’s garden.
On our second night we met with history and had a dalliance with the colonial at the Elephant Stables boutique hotel, just a stone’s throw away from the centre of Kandy town.
Having visited the Pinnawala elephant orphanage the day before and fallen even more in love with the gentle giants (read about that here), we were thrilled to hear that ‘Elephant Stables’ was a real moniker, and that the property once served as a home to several elephants.
We approached the hotel in late afternoon, driving up through the winding hill roads above Kandy. As we pulled into the driveway, we spotted several restored vintage cars also parked up, which we were later told are available to guests to undertake city tours.
This is where Elephant Stables really stood out – the combination of old and new, of colonial and modern. Here there is a union of Sri Lankan heritage and contemporary design which transports you into the scenes of an old colonial film, made only better by the hilltop views of Kandy from the infinity pool and turtles roaming the garden.
The house was previously the home of Sir Cudah Ratwatte, a member of the island’s leading aristocratic family. Only six spacious rooms, all individually named, marry well with the colonial-era ambiance as well as the modern and boundless facilities.
A traditional lounge is filled with classical Sri Lankan sculptures and antique furniture, contradicted by colonial-era artefacts on the burnished hardwood floors throughout the house.
Take your pick between the Saffron, Pepper, Citronella, Lemongrass, or Vanilla. No matter which spice takes your fancy, all rooms have complimentary mini-bars, air-con, DVD players with a collection of vintage films and a beautiful bathroom with delicate handmade amenities to boot.
We were lucky enough to be staying in the Saffron Suite, a graceful yet inviting abode for the night. Three large windows overlooked the gardens and down the hillside over the city, while a rather regal four-poster bed awaited us.
Tempting as it was to have a quick nap, instead we explored the grounds a little before it was time to leave for dinner.
We decided to dine out at another local hotel, Kings Pavilion. An exclusive escape located on another hillside, Kings Pavilion is surrounded by abundant greenery, much like The Elephant Stables.
Traditional Sri Lankan dishes were on the menu, as well as international cuisine. A set menu had already been prepared for us, so if you plan to book at Kings Pavilion do make sure you request Sri Lankan cuisine if you are looking for a more authentic experience.
After a long two days of travelling, we were relieved to sit back and relax for the evening, starting with a glass of freshly pressed juice of course. Reclining on the outdoor terrace the country air felt refreshing, and a welcome reprieve from the humid city.
We started with Vegetable and Seafood Filled Spring Rolls with chilli dip, which were fried perfectly golden and followed up with a second appetizer of Seafood Bisque with bread and butter. For our mains we had a real taste of home; Lamb Chops dripping with gravy and served with seasonal vegetables.
As expected, desserts were the showstoppers. Chocolate Chip Mousse and yet another beautiful platter of seasonal fresh fruit (I ate one of these every single day for breakfast).
Does it get any fresher?
After a few cocktails and a quick peek around the hotel, we headed back to The Elephant Stables for a restful night’s sleep – not before dozing off to Casablanca though.
Breakfast the next morning was of course, a platter of fruit.
Uniquely for a boutique hotel in Sri Lanka, The Elephant Stables can (and does) also accommodate families. A stand alone cottage in the garden (The Cottage) is available for families or those looking for extra space as well as a luxury royal tented suite of 85 square metres, one of the largest tented bedrooms in the world!
Everything considered though, we like the simple things the most (with a pinch of the extraordinary); and the sweeping views over Kandy from the infinity pool with a little turtle friend next to me, plus the in-house yoga instructor available on request, is what I’ll remember from our time at The Elephant Stables.
What’s your favourite part of staying in a boutique hotel?
With a big thank you to The Elephant Stables and King’s Pavillion for their hospitality and Paradise Vacations for organising the trip.