Ellerton

Kandy & Hill Country, Sri Lanka Book from Book from £188 per night

A charming plantation bungalow, a little corner of England, set in tropical gardens in the hills high above 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 and 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. After an immaculate reconstruction and 10 years of superb stewardship, they sold it to a charming Swiss couple, Luca and Iromi, who spend 10 months of the year here and who clearly share a deep passion for the place.

Set in 9 acres of former tea, coffee and spice plantation, there are 8 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.

Highs

  • A lovely infinity pool with that dreamy backdrop of highland tea gardens and distant blue mountains
  • The tropical garden wildlife: a profusion of fruit and flowers, birds and butterflies
  • An easygoing, convivial atmosphere - more elegant house party than hotel
  • Plenty of hotel activities and a good base for visiting Kandy and nearby sites
  • The highland weather: cooler than the coast and not as chilly as the higher hill country

Lows

  • Though friendly and helpful, the service can be a little laid-back when the hotel is quiet
  • The neighbouring tea factory can be a bit noisy (mostly the rumble of vehicles and machinery)
  • There’s no air conditioning, but at 2,500ft up you don’t really need it
  • The rooms in the main house are darker and more traditional than the others but are best set up for families

Best time to go

The peak season, December-February, offers the best weather. From March onwards it starts heating up (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 verandas 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...

Family
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
Room:

Rooms

There are 8 rooms: 3 in the Main House (2 doubles, 1 twin), 3 in the Valley House annexe (2 doubles and a double/twin), and 2 self-contained Garden Rooms (doubles).

The Main House rooms are the most charming, with an authentic, plantation-house look: flowered curtains, cottage furniture, painted floors. The 2 doubles have dressing areas and vanity units; 1 double and the twin have an extra little room which can be used as triples or family rooms. Bathrooms have showers and tubs.

Just across the gardens, Valley House rooms have a contemporary feel, with polished cement interiors, bold colours, high-beamed ceilings and a wide veranda with spectacular views - a great place for sundowners. Furnishings are antique in style (French polished chests-of-drawers) but bathrooms are modern, with walk-in wet-room showers (the doubles have a tub, too).

We loved the Garden Rooms: bright and airy with panoramic views and a private balcony for relaxing. Bathrooms are modern, with bathtub and rain shower.

All rooms have ceiling fans and mosquito nets, though you are unlikely to need either as it’s generally cool up here. 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

Eating

We enjoyed all our meals in the Dining Pavilion - an open-sided building with lovely garden views. During wet weather, there is room for 12 diners around a French-polished table in the Main House.

Dinner is an informal, 3-course set menu of imaginative Anglo-Sinhalese dishes. 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 panna cotta or passion fruit souffle for dessert. Alternatively, you can order a proper Sri Lankan curry (meat, fish or vegetarian and several dishes of rice, vegetables and dhal).

Lunch is available at Ellerton - usually simple dishes like sandwiches, soups and salads. Breakfast is a buffet with cereals, fruits, toast and eggs. Many of the vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices are grown on the estate.

Drinks are included in the price. Bottled water, local beer and spirits are available throughout the day, while imported wine is offered at dinner. Ellerton also has its own supply of clean spring water. There are tea- and coffee-making facilities in the Valley House and afternoon tea is served in the lounge.

Features include:

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

Activities

  • Find a quiet spot to relax: on a veranda, in a shaded corner of the garden or by the pool

  • Enjoy a stroll along the paths around the plantation or to nearby villages, or borrow one of Ellerton's mountain bikes

  • Birders will enjoy spotting sunbirds, parakeets and the Sri Lankan hanging parrot

  • The ancient city of Kandy is only a 30-minute taxi or tuk-tuk ride away: don't miss the iconic lakeside Temple of the Tooth or stunning Peradiniya Botanical Gardens

  • Visit the Elephant Orphanage at Pinnewala (1.5 hours' south); bath time in the river is a particular highlight

  • Overnight trips to the Cultural Triangle (2-3 hours' north) include the famous Sigiriya Rock, Polonnaruwa and the Golden Temple at Dambulla. Ellerton can recommend drivers/guides

  • Ellerton guests can enjoy a private tour of the nearby Orangefield Tea Factory

  • 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

Kids

Families are welcome and 2 of the rooms in the main house have a small room attached to accommodate families (cots and rollaway beds provided). 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.

Best for:

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

Family friendly accommodation:

Main House rooms

Babysitting:

Babysitting by arrangement

Families Should Know:

The pool is unfenced and there is no lifeguard

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 4 independent reviews from i-escape guests

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

Excellent food, very welcoming hosts and great visit to the local tea factory they suggested! Great place to relax and bike or just read a book.

10/10,

Ellerton was a wonderful, everything was so well executed. It was so relaxing to come back to the hotel after a day in the hills or Kandy. Richard and Cary were a wealth of information about the area and Sri Lanka. We really got a chance to relax! The kids loved it and we now have to have afternoon tea every day at home.

10/10,

Lovely retreat in the mountains

10/10,

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

9/10,

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Rates for Ellerton