Nine Skies

Ella, Kandy & Hill Country, Sri Lanka Book from Book from £458 per night

Exquisitely restored hilltop tea bungalow near the iconic Nine Arches Bridge and buzzy Ella, with all meals included and views to die for
So-called because of its prime location near the insta-famous Nine Arches Bridge, Nine Skies is a boutique tea bungalow with incredibly warm service and just five sleek rooms. Set high in Sri Lanka's scenically-blessed Hill Country, the setting truly takes your breath away. Beautifully manicured gardens overlook distant temples, pea-green tea plantations and lofty peaks that drop down to the engineering wonder that is the Demodara Loop (train buffs will know it).

Part of the luxurious Teardrop Hotels stable (which includes Goatfell, Camellia Hills, The Wallawwa and Fort Bazaar), Nine Skies comes with all their trademark qualities: high standards, amazing food (included in the price) and plush rooms. Relax poolside by day then retreat inside to a comfy armchair, blazing log fire (evenings are refreshingly cool up here) and a G&T – and repeat! Nothing is too much trouble for the wonderful staff; butlers provide high-end service, and meals are cooked in-house by the bungalow’s experienced chef. You could very easily spend the day here and forget about seeing the local area. But try not to. Your stay includes a visit to a local tea factory, there are some excellent walking trails from the bungalow, and the jaw-dropping Nine Arches Bridge awaits.

Information provided by Nine Skies on 21/07/2020.

Cleaning and hygiene
Staff temperature taken on arrival and departure daily, and wash/sanitise hands at least every 30 minutes. Kitchen staff required to wash hands every 15 minutes while on duty. Face masks always worn by staff inside hotel. All direct contact surfaces in guest rooms cleaned & sanitised, with particular attention paid to high touch items such as door handles and telephones. All guest key cards, keys, in-room phones, and TV & AC remote controls sanitised again during turn-down. Some high touch point items removed, such as pens, pencils, books. Regular thorough cleaning and disinfection of AC systems, all units re-adjusted to ensure maximum fresh air circulation. Rooms cleaned 4+ hours after guest checked out.

Common areas
Social distancing expected throughout of at least 1 metre while wearing face masks (or at least 2 metres if not wearing masks). Masks can be provided on request. Additional signage placed throughout. Guests requested to regularly sanitise hands using dispensers provided throughout. Guests required to report any illness (particularly fever, cough, sore throat, difficulty in breathing) to hotel management.

Food and drink
Dining room set up to maintain applicable distance between tables, guests can reserve a particular table for duration of stay. Menus either disposable or sanitised before and after use.

Facilities
Additional cleaning of filters in swimming pool. Library still operating, any used/touched books placed into book sanitisation baskets.

Other
On arrival guests have temperature checked and fill in a Health Declaration form along with check-in registration. Guests met with traditional Ayubowan greeting instead of shaking hands. Guests in turn encouraged to adopt this traditional greeting while on the premises. Luggage sanitised by staff promptly upon arrival. Third party chauffeur guides not permitted to enter the building; they may remain in vehicles.

Highs

  • The utter tranquillity here is a balm for the soul
  • A cooling infinity pool, a stunning terrace and beautifully planted gardens visited by a myriad of birds and butterflies
  • Beautifully designed, spacious rooms with four-poster beds and great views
  • Close proximity to Hill Country's must-visit sights - Nine Arches Bridge, Little Adam's Peak and Ella Rock are all nearby
  • Brilliant personal touches: daily turn-down, butler service, picnic lunches, backpacks, hats and wellies to borrow

Lows

  • As with most Hill Country locations, it’s a long journey to get here from Colombo (5-6 hours) – don’t be put off, it’s totally worth it
  • The pool isn't heated so it can feel a little chilly in cooler months
  • You’re in the hills and the weather can be unpredictable – if you do get rained on there are worse places to while away the hours!

Best time to go

The months of January to April bring ideal weather - temperatures rise to the mid-twenties during the day but tend to drop at night. June to September are the driest months when there’s almost no rain at all. Monsoon season (October to December) is best avoided. Tea is plucked year-round.

Our top tips

Nine Arches Bridge draws big crowds at the weekends – plan your visit for a weekday if you can.

Great for...

Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Romantic
  • Boutique Guesthouse
  • 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
  • Laundry service
Room:

Rooms

The spacious and soothing rooms are light and airy with wonderfully comfy four-poster beds, crisp linen and decadent bathrooms with monsoon showers and clawfoot bathtubs. Walls are painted in muted shades contrasted by colourful cushions and armchairs, whilst furnishings - lamps, easy chairs, bedside tables – are a mix of rustic, antique and contemporary pieces. All come with a private verandah.

We stayed in the expertly appointed Ella Rock Suite, complete with a separate lounge and daybed, a writing desk and french doors leading onto a small terrace with incredible views.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Mosquito net
  • Safe box
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Breakfasts are long and lazy, the perfect way to set you up for the day. Choose between homemade granola and fresh fruits, classic fry-ups or traditional Sri Lankan fare like roti or even curry.

Light bites are on offer for lunch - sandwiches, salads, pasta and seafood - and afternoon tea is served wherever you like later in the day. For dinner, expert hearty and fragrant Sri Lankan curries, Asian fusion options and Western favourites - save room for beautifully creative desserts, too. We feasted on some of the best steak we’ve had anywhere in Sri Lanka and tucked into a lunch of curry made by our own fair hands during a cookery class. Produce is sourced locally wherever possible and much of the veggies are grown in the garden on site.

If you fancy a change of scene, head into Ella, which has a variety of eating options and a few lively bars - ask staff for recommendations.

Features include:

  • All meals included
  • Children's meals
  • Coffee / tea making
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • There are heaps of great walks in and around Ella – Little Adam's Peak and Ella Rock are two of the better-known hikes. Guided walks can be arranged, or, if you prefer going it alone, there are a variety of marked trails straight from the bungalow; clear instructions and maps are provided. Picnics can be arranged en route.
  • Wind your way by train down to Badulla (30 mins) or through prime tea country to Haputale (1hr20mins) – these are some of the most iconic train rides in the world. Depart from the charming Demodara train station (worth a visit in itself), just down the hill from the bungalow.
  • Take a mountain bike out for a spin.
  • Cookery classes can be arranged.
  • Go on an excursion - visits to temples, tea factories and spectacular waterfalls are on offer.
  • Stay put – play croquet on the lawn, wander through the immaculate gardens or play board games in the lounge.

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Traditional cultures

Kids

Children of all ages are very welcome. We took our two toddlers and they had a wonderful time exploring the gardens, swimming and joining us on leisurely strolls straight out from the bungalow. The children’s menu is extensive with plenty of good options for the little ones.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

We stayed in the Ella Rock Suite with our two youngsters in beautifully crafted cots alongside a spacious double. There’s also an adjoining lounge with an extra daybed and terrace, which meant we could spend civilised adult evenings within earshot – priceless. Alternatively, you can book the Nine Skies Bedroom (the only twin bedroom), which adjoins one of the Demodara bedrooms.

Baby equipment:

  • High chair
  • Baby bedding

    Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Distances:

  • Airport: 5.5 hours
  • Hospital: 30-45 minutes
  • Shops: 20 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Location

Nine Skies is perched on a hilltop tea plantation a short distance from Demodara train station and a 15-minute drive from Ella, in Sri Lanka's Hill Country.

By air:
Colombo Bandaranaike is the closest international airport (215km), but it's a good five/six-hour drive away.

From the airport
You can catch a train from Colombo to Demodara Railway Station, which is a 10-minute walk from the hotel. It's a beautiful journey - highly recommended.

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 215.0 km

Other:

  • Beach 212.0 km
  • Shops 8.0 km
  • Restaurant 8.0 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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