Kandy & Hill Country, Sri Lanka Book from Book from £189 per night

A charming estate bungalow, a little corner of England, set in tropical gardens and mountain tea plantations only half an hour south of Kandy
For a flavour of plantation life in colonial Ceylon, this hilltop retreat does the job nicely. A vintage bungalow, topped with a green corrugated iron roof, it was built for the manager of a large tea estate. In the sitting room, there are comfy sofas, copies of Country Life, a zebra-skin rug spread-eagled on a polished ox-blood floor, a grandfather clock chiming the hour as though nothing has changed since 1910. But don’t imagine that this is some sort of time warp. When Richard and Cary Goode bought the Edwardian house in 2006, its only inhabitants were an army of termites. What you see now is the result of hard graft and sensitive reconstruction.

Set in 9 acres of former tea, coffee and spice plantation, there are homely guest rooms, a pool, an alfresco dining pavilion, planters chairs on lazy verandas, and a terrace with terrific views - from the gardens, an oasis of tropical greenery, across deep lush valleys towards the Mawanella mountains. The setting is so peaceful it would be easy to forget that Kandy, Sri Lanka’s second city, is just down the road, within easy day-tripping distance.


  • A lovely infinity pool with that dreamy backdrop of highland tea gardens and distant blue mountains
  • Lazing on a veranda, admiring the wildlife in the gardens - a profusion of fruit and flowers, birds and butterflies
  • An easygoing, convivial atmosphere - more house party than hotel
  • Good food (wild boar curry, fish in a ginger and lime sauce, passion fruit souffle), no set mealtimes
  • The highland weather. OK, so it rains now and then, but it’s cooler than the coast, and not as chilly as the higher hill country


  • The rooms by the pool can be noisy; we would recommend a room in the Main House
  • Though friendly and helpful, the service can be a little laid-back at times
  • The neighbouring tea factory can be a bit noisy (mostly the rumble of vehicles and machinery)
  • There’s no air-conditioning in the rooms, but at 2,500ft up, you don’t really need it
  • A bit out of the way - and hold tight on those hairpin bends!

Best time to go

The peak season, December-February, offers the best weather, as it starts heating up from March onwards (March/April are the hottest months of the year; October/November are the wettest). However, up here in the hills the temperature is pretty comfortable all year round - and you can get a tropical downpour more or less anytime.

Our top tips

Family-style meals, communal verandahs and kids in the pool makes Ellerton best suited to sociable travellers who want the beauty of the hills, but to be within easy distance of Kandy.

Great for...

Great Outdoors
  • Boutique Guesthouse
  • 7
  • Breakfast (+ other meals on request)
  • 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
  • Bicycles Available


There are 7 rooms: 3 in the Main House, 3 in the Valley House annexe (2 doubles and a twin in each), and 1 self-contained Garden Room.

The Main House rooms have more charm and a more authentic, plantation-house look (English-style flowered curtains, country cottage furniture, rugs on painted floors). The 2 doubles have dressing areas; 1 double and the twin have an extra little room with a single bed. Bathrooms have showers and tubs, and the doubles have twin vanity units.

In a custom-built annexe a short walk across the gardens, the Valley House rooms have a more contemporary feel, with polished cement interiors (floors, built-in bed bases, window seats), bold colours, high beamed ceilings and direct access to a wide verandah - a great place to sit and read, or enjoy a sundowner and the spectacular views. Again, there is an antique look to the furnishings (French polished chests-of-drawers, for example) but Valley House bathrooms are modern, with walk-in, wet-room showers (the two doubles have a tub, too).

More recently, the self-contained Garden Room has been added the collection. We haven't seen it yet, but décor appears to similar to those in the Valley House, and this room has a private balcony as well as a more spacious seating area.

All rooms have ceiling fans and mosquito nets, though you are unlikely to need either as it’s generally cool up here at night. You might hear squirrels and the odd monkey scampering across the rooftops at night.

Features include:

  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Mosquito net
  • Safe box
  • WiFi


The majority of meals are taken in the Dining Pavilion - an open-sided building, which offers good views of the surrounding gardens and the hills. During cool or wet weather, there is room for 12 diners around a French-polished table in the formal dining room in the Main House.

Dinner is an informal, 3-course set menu (the details of which are available in advance in case it features anything you can’t eat or don’t fancy). The food is often Anglo-Sinhalese, erring on the side of Raj cuisine, and imaginative. Perhaps quail's egg salad or chicken and avocado terrine to start, Oriental fish wrapped in a banana leaf or wild boar curry for main, and green tea panacotta or passion fruit souffle for dessert. Alternatively you can order a proper Sri Lankan curry (meat, fish or vegetarian and at least five other dishes of rice, vegetables and dhal; must be ordered in advance).

You can also have lunch at Ellerton - usually simple dishes like sandwiches, soups and salads, although you can request something more substantial. Breakfast is a buffet and offers cereals and fruits, plus eggs and toast to order. Many of the vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices used in Ellerton’s kitchen are grown on the estate.

All drinks are free - local beer, wine, spirits (vodka, gin, whisky) and mixers. Ellerton has its own supply of clean spring water, though bottled is provided as an alternative. There are tea- and coffee-making facilities for guests’ use in the Valley House, and tea and cake are served in the lounge in the afternoon.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Coffee tea making
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Vegetarian menu


  • Just relax - by the pool, on a verandah, in a shaded corner of the garden

  • Birders will enjoy all the exotic species flitting about, including sunbirds, parakeets and the Sri Lankan hanging parrot

  • Take a stroll - the paths and tracks around the plantation, the villages on the doorstep, or even just the gardens, will keep you going for a day or two. Ben, the resident labrador, might accompany you

  • Borrow a mountain bike (Ellerton has 6, available for use free of charge) and explore the rough and rather hilly roads around the estate

  • The ancient city of Kandy is one of Sri Lanka’s must-dos, and it’s only a 30-minute drive from Ellerton (take a taxi or tuk-tuk; plenty pass by). First the iconic lakeside Temple of the Tooth, then the nearby Peradiniya Botanical Gardens (you’ll pass the 120-acre gardens on the way into town)

  • Going south, you can visit the Elephant Orphanage at Pinnewala (1.5 hours' drive). Bath time in the local river is a particular highlight

  • Longer day/overnight trips include the so-called Cultural Triangle (around 2-3 hrs north): the famous Sigiriya Rock, Polonnaruwa (the ruined medieval capital of Sri Lanka) and the Golden Temple at Dambulla (with its 157 magnificent statues of Buddha and ancient wall paintings, Sri Lanka’s largest cave temple has been a sacred site for pilgrims for over 2,000 years, so expect crowds of tourists during high season). Ellerton can recommend drivers/guides

  • Take a train or car to the ‘Little England’ hill station at Nuwara Eliya (2 hrs south) for tea gardens, waterfalls and colonial throwbacks

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Mountain biking
  • Museums / galleries
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Wildlife


Children are welcome and most of the rooms are able to accommodate families (2 of the bedrooms have a small single room attached; others can fit rollaway beds - although extra beds in Double/Twins are not encouraged). There is also a twin room in the house that would suit older children. Kids will love the pool (though parents please be aware that it is unfenced and there is no lifeguard), the gardens, the wildlife (lots of monkeys) and Ellerton’s 2 friendly dogs, Ben and Polly. Cots and rollaway beds can be provided.

Best for:

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

Family friendly accommodation:

Main House rooms.


Babysitting by arrangement.

Families Should Know:

The pool is unfenced, and there is no lifeguard.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 5 independent reviews from i-escape guests


Lovely retreat in the mountains


beautiful location and exquisite hotel with wonderfully attentive owner, manager and staff. A truly magical place to stay during your tour of Sri Lanka


Service, food, hotel/room all wonderful. Location is stunning. Not cheap but worth it.


We loved the privacy and homeliness (dogs, books, and G&Ts) but the property is a little tired and could do with an update in some areas. The owner was incredibly helpful via email and accomodated a last minute change of date gracefully. Setting is unique and tranquil, wonderful views.


Excellent food and a very comfortable room with fantastic service.


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Rates for Ellerton