Camellia Hills

Dickoya, Kandy & Hill Country, Sri Lanka Book from Book from £302 per night

Idyllic small hotel in the Hill Country with killer views and easy access to Hatton's stunning tea plantations
The location of Camellia Hills is exceptional, the dramatic, panoramic vistas some of the most striking and inspirational in all of Sri Lanka. Perched on a tea-flanked hillside near Hatton overlooking Castlereagh Lake, a mirror-still reservoir, it surveys almost the entire valley and surrounding mountains. Tempting though it is to just sink into a chair and stay put, drinking in the island-dotted lake and pea-green field vistas, this is also a place for adventure - you can visit tea factories, temples and colonial sights, trek to waterfalls, scale Adam’s Peak, or simply walk and picnic amidst tea fields.

The hotel itself is a contemporary bungalow built in consideration of how a tea planter might live today. Butlers attend to guests, serving home-cooked meals, drinks and snacks, yet there are no airs and graces. The atmosphere is relaxing and warm, and the intimate nature of the hotel means you’ll often get chatting to other guests, perhaps when sipping G&Ts around the crackling fire. And at the end of the evening, you get to retire to a beautiful bedroom, sleep deeply in a four-poster bed, and awake to those views again. Deeply relaxing.

Highs

  • Breathtaking views, even when the clouds descend. Plus, it’s pin-drop peaceful
  • We loved the romantic rooms, with their contemporary styling and four-poster beds
  • You can walk out across tea fields directly from the hotel
  • Rates are all-inclusive and meals are a la carte; choose from superb Sri Lankan or European dishes
  • Excellent service from kind staff and a convivial atmosphere

Lows

  • Be aware that the climate is cool up here and rain is common (classic of the tea country)
  • Not an easy place to reach but definitely worth it (4-5 hrs from Colombo, 2 hrs from Nuwara Eliya)
  • The pool is unheated so swimming can be chilly
  • Remote (18km from shops), and the dirt track leading to the hotel is very bumpy

Best time to go

For clear skies, dewy mornings and the driest climate, the best months are January to April, though this is also the busiest time of the year. May, June, October and November are often wet. The shoulder season months in-between are good value though showers can break out at any time thanks to the region’s unique micro-climate. Tea is plucked throughout the year.

Our top tips

Bring a light mac and good walking shoes if you’re keen to explore outdoors, and a cardigan or jumper for the cooler evenings. The hotel is quite remote so we’d recommend you come for at least 3 nights to be able to settle in, explore and relax.

To avoid the long and winding road (or train track) from Colombo, book a seaplane into Castlereagh Reservoir, just below the hotel: it's a thrilling way to arrive, and surprisingly affordable.

Great for...

Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Romantic
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 5
  • All-inclusive
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room: Dickoya Bedroom

Rooms

Interiors are contemporary and stylish, with a feel that's more home than hotel: warm timber floors, honey-coloured furniture, armchairs for sinking into, and vibrant printed cushions infusing colour. Open-plan living areas flow into the 5 bedrooms, each of which is distinct in design and decor.

All but one room faces the lake through enormous windows, and most lead directly into the garden. We were very comfortable in Osbourne, a corner room with both lake and mountain views, a gorgeous bathroom with tub, and a private garden terrace. Dickoya is the largest room, with a pair of wicker armchairs on its terrace perfectly positioned for taking in the dreamy views. Its bathroom connects with a small room that can sleep 1-2 children.

Hidden below the house, closest to the pool, is light-bathed Warleigh, a spacious honeymoon suite. Maskeliya is twin-bedded and faces the mountains, and we loved Norton's chic pallette of muted green and blues, emboldened by pops of hot pink.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Butler service
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Safe box
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

All meals, snacks and drinks are included in the rate and refreshingly, menus are a la carte rather then set. The upcountry rice and curry is always available for lunch or dinner, and it’s great fuel for long walks through the tea fields. There are lighter meals, soups and salads too, such as a grilled chicken and mango salsa, plus good options for vegetarians. We loved the delicate mille-feuille dessert, which used local strawberries from Nuwara Eliya.

Breakfast is also a la carte. We tucked into Sri Lankan hoppers with curries and sambols on one morning, and on another, local buffalo curd with red berry compote and granola. Both were delicious.

There’s a semi formal dining area, though breakfast is often served in an adjoining room open to the views, and afternoon tea and cake is laid out on the living room terrace, paired with panoramic mountain views.

Features include:

  • All meals included
  • Bar
  • Children's meals
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • A visit to a tea factory, where you can view the aromatic, ages-old process of tea production, is included in your stay here
  • Swim in the pool, pick a book from the library for reading on a terrace, or take a Sri Lankan cookery class with the hotel chefs
  • Explore your surroundings on foot – wander estate trails, picnic at scenic secret viewpoints, and visit local villages on your own or with a guide
  • Float through the Castlereagh Reservoir in a traditional dugout canoe or travel by boat to the intimate, century-old colonial Warleigh Church
  • Hike to regional waterfalls, up Adam’s Peak or across Horton’s Plains to World's End. Or go white-water rafting at Kithulgala

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Cooking classes
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Rafting
  • Safaris
  • Swimming

Kids

Children are welcome and this is a super place for families. The number of outside activities and the sheer drama of the location will make this a hotel to remember for children happy to engage with nature and get outdoors. Best for 5+ year olds.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

All rooms except Osbourne can fit 1 baby cot/extra bed. Dickoya is the hotel’s family suite: a very large double bedroom, a bathroom (tub and shower) and a second bedroom with a single bed and pull-out trundle bed. Families with older children might consider booking Osbourne (a double) and Maskeliya (a twin), which are located opposite each other (not adjoining) at one end of the bungalow.

Children's meals:

A children’s menu with a good range of family favourites such as fish fingers and roast chicken.

Families Should Know:

The living areas are split level, and potentially hazardous for toddlers

Distances:

  • Airport: 30 mins' drive (Castlereagh Reservoir)
  • Shop: 18km (Hatton)
  • Medical facility: 18km
Kid Friendly: Dickoya Bedroom

Location

The hotel is located in Dickoya, 18km from the market town of Hatton (with a railway station), on the side of a deep valley amid rural villages, tea estates and mountains.

By Air:
Colombo Bandaranaike is the closest international airport (126km), but it's a good 4-5 hour drive away so an alternative is to book a seaplane with domestic airline Cinnamon Air directly to Castlereagh Reservoir, just below the hotel (20-30 mins' drive). Camellia Hills can organise transfers.

If you want to hire a car and driver for your whole holiday, enquire through our Tailormade Tour Operator; they can collect you at Colombo airport when you land, drive you to the hotel, then drive you to your onward destination(s) after your stay, as well as taking you on all day trips etc.

Detailed directions will be sent when you book through i-escape.

Airports:

  • Colombo Bandaranaike 126.0 km CMB

Other:

  • Beach 120.0 km
  • Shops 18.0 km
  • Restaurant 18.0 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests

10/10
Room
10/10
Food
10/10
Service
10/10
Value
10/10
Overall

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